Guest post by Ari.

What helps… expressing feelings through art

After my son died I looked for ways in which to cope with the many feelings I was experiencing: sadness of course, but also guilt and anger. I couldn’t sleep, walked the darkened house crying, wanting to scream but not wanting to awake my husband who blessedly slept. Those first months were so very hard! One day I saw some cheap acrylic paints at the store. I had never painted anything in my life but I took them home. Of course they sat unused for some months. I wasn’t ready.  Finally one day I grabbed the tube of black paint and some paper and slathered it all over with my hands – why bother with a brush? I wanted to feel that blackness as it spread across the paper- it mimicked my grief so well. I “painted” many black pictures in those early months, sometimes dipping my finger in bright red and writing WHY? over and over. It is the most

important question we have in our beginning- unfortunately no answer usually comes. But I had discovered art, and my feelings were expressed in other ways besides words. Sometimes people cannot understand, they get tired of listening to you, they get uncomfortable with your tears. Art therapy helps you deal with feelings that are sometimes hard to express, and it helps heal a broken heart.

My art has evolved from angry black scenes. It has been almost six years without my boy. I can now create with bits of paper and paint beauty that soothes my soul, brings a smile to my face, and when shared it also makes others feel. Art has helped me to heal. It is one of the most important tools in my arsenal against the grief. I try to spend a few minutes avery day creating something, however small. It is my self-care. I hope in reading this that you will give it a try- what do you have to lose? Everything helps a little, nothing helps a lot, but you might discover something in you that you never knew was there until this dark time in your life. Let yourself find some comfort in art. Draw, paint, collage with paper, anything that takes you out of your blackness for a bit. You don’t have to worry about being an “artist”, no-one will judge. Just create!

I made this picture using bits of paper and some paint. The seagull represents my son’s spirit, always watching over me, yet I am always left behind. When I did this one it made me cry- and that’s ok. Tears are healing, they are liquid love. Let yourself feel, and let yourself heal.