Grieving Through Art
Art by Laura Mathes-Orr; Text by Rebecca Hensler
Grief Beyond Belief community member Laura Mathes-Orr, a beginning glass artist, has kindly allowed us to share this beautiful representation of her grief.
She writes, “I’m calling this piece “Loss”. It represents how I feel. Just over a year ago my mom ended her life and her struggle with stage IV ovarian cancer. She utilized the California end of life option. After 6 rounds of chemo and one major surgery she was done. I still miss her so and there is a gaping hole in my heart.”
It is rare that we have the opportunity to publish photographs of the art our community members create to express their grief. Creativity is clearly a process for grieving that is Humanist in nature, as it allows us to communicate our sorrow in a way that is unique to our human selves. The artist puts the emotions of grief — in this example the sense of a void within the shattered but resiliant heart — on display, an act of sharing and vulnerability. The viewer is moved by the feelings of another, and if they themselves are grieving, may find that the image or object “speaks” to them and even for them.
Art therapy is frequently used in conjunction with various forms of talk therapy and peer-to-peer support. Many of us who have participated in in-person grief support groups remember the opportunities to draw and collage as some of the most healing group activities. Because online support is by nature less hands-on, online grief support groups do not often involve sharing visual art — although grief writing, particularly poetry, is often shared in online peer-to-peer communities. I would love to publish more photographs of art created in memory of loved ones or as a tool to process and express grief. If you have art you would like to share, please send a photograph and an artist’s statement to firstname.lastname@example.org.