What does grief look like? What color is it? Is it a shape that moves or changes? Does it have meaning without words, purpose without explanation or depth that is beyond thinking? Looking down at the page, images appear, unexpected, sometimes unwanted but then they move, can be covered, soothed, and often cared for. As images are created, new expressions of emotions can be revealed, feelings that often do not have words are discovered, hope that is not apparent is revealed, and transformation has a slow safe space to grow. Thus, is the gift of art and grief work.
Art therapy in its purist form is all about the process and nothing about the product. What is incredibly lovely about this is no matter what your artistic background or your comfort level with creating art, you can find it to be a meaningful experience. While it can be challenging to throw out those early formed expectations of “creating a masterpiece,” once the flow of the process itself takes over, images and creations can be made that express, reveal and make visible the multi-faceted aspects of the journey of grief.
Here are some of the things that can be gained in an art-based grief group:
(Moon, 2016, pp 8-9)
Now that you have been introduced to art-based grief groups we hope you will join our Virtual Expressive Arts Group – Illustrations of Grief. Click below for current group offerings.
Kelly Gelhaar, Art Therapist & Bereavement Counselor at Hospice of the North Coast
About the Author:
Kelly Gehlhaar holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Early in her career she worked primarily with children and youth and has been working in Hospice Bereavement for the past four years. Kelly is completing hours towards licensure and will be sitting for the LCSW exam in the next few months. Kelly has extensive training in Art Therapy. She is passionate about utilizing this modality in her therapeutic work as art was instrumental in her own journey of grief. She has been exploring the arts in her personal life since she was a kid, performing in musical theater, singing in choral groups, oil painting, crafting, and scrapbooking. Kelly loves to travel and is passionate about helping others through their grief journey in a safe and supportive environment.