Making meaning and learning how to live wholeheartedly after loss
“Grief is like an earthquake. The first one hits you and the world falls apart. Even after you put the world together again there are aftershocks, and you never really know when those will come.” – Author Unknown (The Creative Grief Studio)
Loss and grief often shatters our sense of identity, how we understand ourselves and the world and our ability to imagine a future we want.
Join a small group of 6 – 8 people for 4 x two hour sessions (every Wednesday evening or every Saturday morning) to start your journey of learning or inventing a new way of living, a new sense of self and new meanings using artmaking.
Each session you will have the opportunity to explore what feels shattered and begin to build a picture of what ‘wholehearted loving after loss’ means to you and who you want to be, what you want to create with your life after loss. The workshop is based on the theoretical framework of ‘shameless grief’ – i.e. grief and transformation are recognised as a paradox rather than a linear progression or a problem to be solved. You will learn to appreciate the paradox that you are whole, resilient, resourceful and creative, even though grief is in your life.
Making meaning through Grief?
Key to the journey of loss and grief is the process of meaning making. Once our world is shattered, it is impossible to go back to the old stories, old perceptions of ourselves and the world. This process therefore is incredibly creative since we’re starting to build new connections and new meaning within a context where ‘making sense’ of major loss , death, trauma often defies rationality or logic. Neither is there a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it, nor can you simply copy someone else’s meaning-after-loss into your life for it to be meaningful.
“Just like a necklace of precious stones that comes undone and needs to be restrung. If some stones are lost, new ones must be added to replace the old ones. Grief can be understood as the process of picking up the pieces of your identity (the stones) without the help of someone you had assumed would always be there, or without a relationship that was a crucial part of your life (the string). Grief is the process of finding out who you are in a world that is barely recognisable because of the tremendous change that has taken place. You may not be able t to answer the questions “Who am I?” for a long time after your loss.” – Sameet M. Kunar
What is wholehearted living after loss?
Wholehearted living is about…
- living with your whole heart and being willing to experience all that life has to offer you.
- being willing to love completely and to invest with your whole self, in spite of the risks that you may lose what you’ve loved and invested in.
- no longer numbing yourself to all emotions by protectively closing your heart and being willing to feel the full range of feelings you feel.
Why wholehearted living?
So that you can access the connection, love, peace, meaning, belonging, wellness and joy that you want at a deeper level than you ever
The impulse to close our hearts is understandable – especially considering all of the uncomfortable and painful reactions we might experience after loss. It is a protective impulse. However, by closing our hearts to potential loss and pain, we also close our hearts to potential connection, belonging, love, meaning, joy and peace. You can’t switch some unpleasant emotions off without also switching off the emotions that we do want to have. We’re either open, wholehearted and fully alive, or we’re numbing ourselves to all that life has to offer.
Creativity and artmaking in the context of creative grief coaching is not about how well you draw or paint (or whatever artmaking modality you choose). The purpose of creativity and artmaking is in the process, not the end product. In the process of artmaking, we shift into more creative ways of thinking, we see things in new ways, we solve problems and innovate. Because of the focus on process rather than product, our definition of creativity isn’t only about artmaking.
Structure of the workshop
For each of the four two-hour sessions, we will start with a brief check in after which you will be given a theme and artmaking project, followed by debrief with the group. The themes for each week are based on tried and tested exercises developed by Cath Duncan and Kara Jones from The Creative Grief Studio. Some of the themes we will be exploring include: ‘Who am I – Self-identity before the loss and after’; ‘What does it mean to live wholeheartedly?’; and “How to live wholeheartedly – embodying grief”.
This workshop is NOT for you…
…if you are keen to ‘fix’, ‘heal’ your grief – you are not broken. You have lost someone you love and it is painful some/most of the times. This workshop will help you understand what is happening to you when you grieve and live more wholeheartedly – i.e. more alive, connected WITH your grief.
…if you are looking for a blueprint of how to ‘do grief’ properly. The workshop aims to help you discover your own path and meaning.
…if you hate artmaking and don’t even want to try any form of creative expression. You don’t have to be arty or believe that you’re terribly creative – the focus is on the process, not the outcome. But you do need to be curious and open.
Do you have any questions about whether this workshop is right for you? Please email me and we can set up a free discovery chat.
Part 1 only:R1100 (for 2 workshops)
Part 1 & 2: R1900 (for all 4 workshops)
Please bring your favourite basic art supplies (paper – any size you’re comfortable working with, paint & brushes, colour markers, crayons, pastels, etc. I will provide tea, coffee and light snacks.
Please email me for the next upcoming workshop dates: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why is creativity important in grieving/ living wholeheartedly after loss?
It can take a lot of creativity just to find a reason to get out of bed after loss.
We need creativity in order to create new meaning, a new identity and new wholehearted purposes after loss.
Our rational, logical ways of thinking strive to “figure out” grief and loss. This can generate many “unanswerable questions” that end up torturing us as we try to figure out the answers rationally. Creative ways of thinking are more comfortable with ambiguity, mystery, uncertainty, and the unanswerable nature of loss.
Creativity helps us to connect with intuition. There’s no “right way” to live after loss. We have to invent our own way and we have to keep tuning back into our essential self/ intuition to find our truth. Logic wants to find “right and wrong” and goes looking for that in the rules of the world social systems. Creativity, on the other hand, is better at inventing ideas that never existed before and looking within to find our own truth, so it is better suited to leading the task of learning to live after loss.
Grieving is stressful! Creativity and artmaking helps to calm us and soothe stressful and painful emotions.
Artmaking can externalise the intangible inner world of grief thoughts and feelings, so that we have something tangible and concrete that we can look at, observe, learn from and integrate more easily.
Artmaking allows us to create tangible markers that can become expressions and containers of meaning and story. This makes meaning and story easier to affirm and even to pass on to others, which strengthens meaning and connection. Meaning and connection are deep rewards in and of themselves.
Creativity allows us to solve problems and see things from new perspectives. Creativity shifts us from “either/or thinking” to more integrated “and” thinking, where we drop false choices and create solutions that encompass more of what we value and allow for us to have a richer experience of life.
Source: The Creative Grief Studio