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Moving with your grief during the holidays

Whether you've lost loved ones recently and this is the first holiday season without them, or it's been several years since your loss, but it is still very present and painful, please know you are not alone. This can be a very difficult time of the year and the emotions can be incredibly complex and can include sadness and lonliness, disbelief that the world is 'going on like normal' when you feel like it's falling apart, or guilt in feeling joy or relief that your loved one is no longer suffering. Grief is not linear and while there are named stages of grief, there are no rules about how long grief must last and no order or separation to the stages. Our art therapist, Monika Burkholder, specializes in working with clients who have survived grief and loss and was featured today on our local news station, WHSV. Check it out by clicking here!

Using art to move with your grief this holiday season

Using the art process can be a helpful part of your moving with your grief this holiday season. We often say that there are no adequate words of comfort to say to people when they survive a death. In a similar way, it's hard to find the words for our own experience when we are grieving. Art making is such an effective way for processing because it allows us to communicate a feeling or experience with a much broader language-a language of color, lines and shape. So many of our clients tell us that it feels easier and safer, once given the tools in our sessions, to express themselves in this way. Any of course, no experience with art making is necessary to take advantage of art therapy.

We recommend working with an art therapist, but if you want to try some ideas at home, it may be helpful to draw an image or fill a shape with colors and lines that represent what you are feeling. You can also write a letter to your loved one, create a scrapbook, digital slideshow or art piece in memory of your loved one. New traditions can be helpful to start and we recommend talking with your family about it, thinking about how you can symbolically include your lost loved one in the new tradition. Lighting a candle, volunteering for a cause close to your lost loved one's heart, having out a photo album, or a book of memories written by family and friends are examples of this.

When to seek professional help

While we can find compassionate support from friends and family and find great resilience inside ourselves, it is a sign of great strength to know when we need something more. Maybe more tools, maybe it's a nonjudgmental person to listen and provide a safe space for you to feel free to express yourself, or maybe you want to learn more about the grief process and feel empowered to find hope. Finding the right therapist can take time and we do recommend interviewing a few different therapists until you find one that is a good fit for you. To find out more about how to contact us, click here.

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