Art Therapy to Heal Grief

Those who don’t consider themselves to be artistic may not understand the great release of emotions artists can get when creating a work of art. Rules fall away, and many emotions can come to the surface to be cleared out, including despair, anger, stress, and grief. The process of becoming immersed in an art project can be like a form of meditation, and the project itself is safe self-expression. Because art is open to interpretation, and great creativity usually produces appreciation, art therapy becomes a very helpful form of healing for many people.

Grief Art Therapy ShowcaseArt Therapy Salon at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
(Photo by Vi Bella)

The left side of the brain rules vocabulary, but sometimes our pain, especially grief, cannot even be described. Grief therapy experts realize that when people are coping with loss, the roller coaster of emotions can be indescribable. These emotions can lead to low self-esteem, illness, depression, confusion, and feelings of being out of control. Using art as therapy taps into the ideas that words may not be the best way to process what we’re feeling.

Allowing the right brain to take over self-expression and doing something that is uniquely tied to the right brain means that suddenly many emotions can be released through this creative grief art.

“To mend this sorrow, the expressive arts can create a doorway to the unspeakable by opening all channels to the grieving body.” –

The field of art therapy today is designed to help people move through their grief, simply by doing something creative. The goal of using art as therapy is to get someone to become expressive, in any way possible, using art materials.

An art therapist usually has a background in psychology (or counseling) and art. An art therapist’s job is to get you to express yourself while releasing hidden emotions and to better understand your feelings.

“Art is a fabulous escape from feeling icky.” –

One of the goals is for art therapy to be a fun or pleasant experience. Through the process of working on a piece of art, the therapy should allow participants to cope with emotions that may not be pleasant. The art therapist should recognize the help a grieving person needs, and gently guide the person in the direction of learning coping skills.

“When we emotionally release our grief, we will discover that there is always something gained in the midst of loss, such as strength, new resources, or support that we did not know we had. Focusing on what strengths and gifts we have gained through our losses helps to heal old grief.” – Shelley Klammer,

Art is a beautiful way to heal from the grief of coping with loss, and to experience creativity in the process. There are many professionals around the country who lead grief art workshops in different media – from dance to sculpture, from painting to knitting. Art as therapy can be in whatever form of art a person would like to learn, practice, or experiment with.

Consider how you can use art therapy to relieve feelings of stress, grief, anxiety, or depression. Everlasting Footprint reminds everyone to honor, remember, celebrate, and enjoy life together.


About Cindy Readnower

Cindy Readnower, MBA, specializes in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An award-winning certified Life Coach, business consultant, and publisher at Skinny Leopard Media, she helps writers produce and promote their books. She is a newspaper columnist, author of "Inherited Secrets," and a blogger.

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