Searching for Meaning in a Season of Grieving
Art Therapist, Trisha Lundin, gives words of wisdom about grieving during the Holiday season
My five-year-old daughter and I recently attended a pool party. Her friends were already swimming when we arrived, and I left her with her friends at the side of the pool while I adjusted to the water. Moments later, her friends came frantically swimming toward me. When I found her, she was clinging to the wall but slipping and her friend who stayed with her seemed worried about how to help her. It was her first time without a floaty, and I hadn’t shown her she would be able to touch in the kiddie pool.
Weeks later, at bedtime, she reflected on this moment with her friends. She said somewhat surprised and somewhat confidently, “I know they really care about me.” It seemed like an epiphany for her, something she had hoped before was now true because she saw it and felt it in that moment of fear, uncertainty, and vulnerability.
In times of grief we need moments like this when compassion becomes real when we can be cared for in our vulnerability; clinging to the edge of life, unsure if it is too deep to touch. Sometimes we might need help coming away from the wall and adjusting to new territory.
The holidays present many people who are grieving with uncertain waters to navigate. Perhaps the things that kept us afloat before are no longer there for us to depend on and we then question if we have what we need to face the unknown. If you happen to be one of these courageous people looking ahead to the holidays or if you would like to consider ways to be more present to those in grief, here is some food for thought.
If you find yourself struggling to be received in grief, know that it is often those around us struggling themselves.
Your story is worth knowing and worth sharing.
Healing Art Eau Claire
First, the holidays are filled with sensory stimulation, and when we grieve our senses are heightened. The holidays may be a comfort at times. At other times, they don’t match how we are feeling inside. It is important to be aware of your experiences, seek out what is most supportive to you and know your limits when you’re overwhelmed.
Next, an ever-present element of the holidays is giving and receiving gifts. Consider exploring meaning not in monetary worth but in symbolic form – objects and items that tell a story and carry a worth personal to you. Consider collecting objects as a gift for yourself. These can be everyday objects around your house that hold sentimental value or that remind you of what is most important. Consider putting them in a box or a bag you can open when you need a moment to connect with your grief story. Consider if there might be a companion to share these and your grief with.
It can be challenging to find companionship in grief. You may be surprised to find new people in your life to share your story or old friendships that grow closer. You might reach out to a group or a professional if it feels hard to find a listening ear. If you find yourself struggling to be received in grief, know that it is often those around us struggling themselves. Your story is worth knowing and worth sharing.
Lastly, notice ways small things (gestures, gifts, acts of kindness) can become big or hold significant meaning, while things that seemed big in the past, become small. Old traditions can lose their meaning while new experiences can change us. This is the strength and wisdom only the hard parts of life can teach us.
Grief comes in many forms and is present at every stage of our lives. Tender moments in our days, years, and seasons remind us of what is truly important. I encourage you to continue to find ways to tend to your own grief and allow it to bring you ever closer to a deeper meaning of trust, truth, and compassion.
Trisha Lundin is a practicing art therapist and counselor with Healing Art Eau Claire that specializes in grief counseling. She seeks to support creativity as a resource for healing and personal growth.