I have been trained as a Creative Grief Support coach in the “Shameless Grief” model, which says that when grieving clients come to me for help, the problem is not their grief. It’s our perspective that death, loss and grief are natural, safe and healthy. We don’t have to learn how to grieve and research shows that most of us can naturally do it very well without any form of professional intervention. The problem is that overblown, chronic or difficult shame issues are getting in the way and obstructing their natural, healthy grieving.
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”
– Dr Brene Brown
This does not mean that grief in and of itself is not painful.
What this means is that many people don’t require professional support for their grieving. For those who do seek professional support for their grieving, this may be more because of the role of shame than grief, because shame may be the ingredient that disempowers us and tips painful grief into unbearable or pathological grief, depression or despair.
My role as Creative Grief Support Coach is ….
… to hold the belief in my client’s natural resilience, resourcefulness and creativity, rather than viewing them as broken or ill in their grieving state and help them reconnect to their own resourcefulness.
…to help clients identify their own ‘grief rules’ and examine whether they are liberating or constrictive and painful and help them bend their grief rules to incorporate the liberating perspectives they discover and to edit out the constrictive ones.
…to support the griever by being curious rather than empathetic (curiosity opens the heart and mind to offer non-judgemental and compassionate witnessing).
…to provide an accepting compassionate space where clients can consciously and mindfully review what feels shattered and begin to build out their picture of what ‘wholehearted living after loss’ means to them, who they want to be and what they want to be creating with their lives after loss.
… to help clients develop a greater tolerance for the unknown and dissolving their fear and shame, thereby expanding their opportunity to receive insight and to move forward with creativity and authenticity.
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.
Will you be expected to draw or paint?
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.
You also don’t have to make art to be creative. My role is to connect clients with and use their creativity even just through conversations. Creativity is ultimately about agile thinking styles and there are times when the creative procedures we suggest don’t even involve artmaking, but they still facilitate creative thinking.
Source: The Creative Grief Coaching Studio LLC © 2011