I use my entire body when I create art.
Sunday I created a piece I call “Dividing Line” at a Grief-Art workshop at the Art and Spirituality Center at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield. The piece doesn’t feel finished yet though it will be on display in an upcoming art show. Perhaps, like grief and like the General Assembly at the United Nations, it is never finished, it is just experienced differently.
I closed my eyes in the making of it.
I started in a much more organized manner. I didn’t know what I was doing with pastels as I have never used them much in the past. I started with a white pastel on the black paper. I moved it back and forth, soon discovering I liked to use the chalk on its side more than using it like a pencil or pen.
It was a large piece of paper and I was using my non dominant hand. Up and down and all across the page in circles and colors and sweeps. I crashed into the end of the table cloth and my chalk seered down the edge, tracing the stitching of the table cloth.
It jolted me.
I adored it.
This is how I have been taught to grieve: behind a line, behind a veil, in a space where no one else might be made uncomfortable by the rawness of my emotions.
How many times have we heard it at a funeral? When the family members are stoic and showing no emotions, we say “Oh, they are doing so well!” Maybe we should say “Are they on too much medicine to feel the service? Will they remember it at all? Do they have a safe place to express their loss?”
Yes, we all grieve differently.
I am a loud, active, deep feeling, very reflective griever.
I respect each of our methods of grief.
What was difficult for me when I was younger is I never had any grief models. I was never allowed to go to funerals. I didn’t get to talk about loss or death. I remember when the call came in that my grandfather died, I was with my mother. I looked at her with an odd, six-year-old excitement, “Should I go tell Daddy?”
I still don’t know how he was told.
I still don’t know how he responded. He was in the midst of a worsening relationship with alcoholism though.
I do know when I facilitated my brothers Celebration of Life nearly forty years later, all the grievers stood in a circle, holding hands, as we remembered John. Katherine, my daughter, said my father’s hand shook with grief as she held it. I am so grateful he was able to express his grief and I am so grateful my daughter was able to fully witness it without fear or anxiety or judgment.
If I had been faced with raw grief like that at her age then – fifteen – I would have been frightened. I had no exposure.
Check it out here or by clicking the "Going Green Image"