Tea With Grief: creative prompt

There is such a prevailing attitude in our world today that says, implicitly or explicitly, that grief is bad. It is one of those horrible things. Something you have to heal from or get over or move through to get to a place where there is no grief (as if that place actually exists). Some experiences seem to tell us we need to get past the grief to return to the state of being we were before the grief-causing-incident (as if you can just forget what happened and be who you were before grief came). Some experiences seem to tell us we can be changed, but it has to be spun to have a packaging that says we are some how a better person now, or we've learned something from this, or there were gifts that came from it all.

The more time I spend on this planet, the more I think both extremes of this spectrum are hooey.  Really. You can keep your DSM V, and your theories, and your medical journal speak, and even your new age healing manual and workshop speak. I think that both the idea that you have to heal from grief OR the idea that you've changed now to be a better person -- ALL of it seeks to escape grief.  Anything to just not sit with grief.

Heal from it. Get over it. Move past it. Integrate it. Find the gifts. Evolve from it.

While I'm sure some of these might come to be a reality for some people, I still think that most people try to steer the bereaved -- or we get sucked into steering ourselves -- toward one of these goals without ever truly SITTING WITH GRIEF. Rarely do I hear anyone say to a bereaved person, "I'll sit with you and your grief." Or, "How much time did you spend sitting with your grief today?" Or, "When you first sat with your grief, what did you think about? What did it look like?"

For some, the idea of sitting with grief is repulsive because they have not experienced grief themselves and our grief seems like a dis-ease they do not want to catch.  For others, the idea of sitting with grief is overwhelming precisely because it is happening to them and they feel they'll be overwhelmed by it.

But I propose that we can approach sitting with grief in a multitude of ways. As many tools as there are in the creative box, there are just as many ways to sit with grief. Below are a few creative ideas.  Pick one at random. Just try approaching your grief in as many ways as possible, from as many angles as you can possibly dream up. You may well end up feeling a sense of healing or moving through or discovering gifts in the end, but those things are so not the point and maybe not even necessary. It is simply about discovering ways to SIT WITH GRIEF. Be in the same room. Talk to one another. Re-member your shattered heart.

  • Imagine your grief as a stuffed animal.  Either draw or get a stuffed animal similar to what you imagine.  And then spend a 1/2 hour each day this week offering Reiki (or just a healing touch) to the stuffed animal.  I have had experiences where the doll I'm using represents the person I was at the moment of trauma.  From my different perspective and place today, I offer Reiki to the doll as a way of sending Reiki back in time to myself when my heart first shattered.

  • Cut out images of chairs from magazines, papers, art books.  Look also for images that might represent your grief.  You can draw images as well.  Then collage the chairs and images of grief into the chairs on a piece of paper.  You can do a chair and image to represent yourself as well.  Looking at the collage, write a dialogue of what you say to each image of grief in each chair.  Write down what they say back to you.  You can even do it with talk bubbles right on the collage if you want.

  • Many of us schedule everything into our lives these days.  Very few people I know have the ability to live a stream of consciousness kind of life.  So we schedule what time we wake, when we'll be in meetings, what night to go out with our partners, when we'll travel, what day we'll use those free tickets to the Science Center, when we'll have dinner with friends, when to catch that new film.  Why not schedule time to sit with your grief?  Seriously.  Put it on the calendar.  Friday, June 10, Noon to 2pm, Sit with my grief.  And then keep your date for it as conscientiously as you would keep any other date on your calendar!!  If you are into meditation, take the time to mediate with grief.  If you like to walk, go for a walk with your grief.  If you like art museums, take your grief to the museum with you.  Think of it as an Artists Date with Grief.

  • Have a tea party with grief.  I know it sounds weird.  But often the things we refuse to allow into the party are the very things that get blown out of proportion, seem like monsters we are trying to keep at bay.  Invite the monster in.  Serve him tea and cakes.  Talk with him.  You can do the whole fancy table and hat and music playing in the background if you want.  Or you can do this by drawing or writing or collage.  Cut out images from magazines and such that make a tea party scene for you.  Looking at the collage, write up a little description of what happens at the tea.  
Before jumping to the candlelight vigils and rituals *for healing*, instead, lets really hear it when *grief support* is asked for...and then try making space for exactly that support to be given.

If you are looking for other creative prompts to explore your grief experiences, take a look at the eBooks we have available in our Shop

[Previously published in Radical Creativity June 11, 2011]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak it!