Grief has a way of stopping us in our tracks. I think we can all agree that the past year has brought us face-to-face with feelings of hopelessness and utter loneliness. Many of us hairdressers are not working in our salons, once again. For some, if they haven’t lost their salon already, they may be on the verge. Sustaining joy, balance or a sense of creative expression can be a challenge.
I’d like to share two inspirations on this topic, I heard on NPR this week.
Grieving Is a Journey
First, if you watched the inauguration last week, you not only saw the new president and vice president being sworn into the office but you witnessed the youngest poet laureate recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb”, with such grace and strength. She also wrote a poem to address these times.
We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof,
For it is in loss that we truly learn to love.
In this chaos, we will discover clarity.
In suffering, we must find solidarity.
For it’s our grief that gives us our gratitude,
Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.
So ensure that this ache wasn’t endured in vain:
Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.
These lines say it all. “Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.”
Question is, how are you ignoring the pain? How are you giving it purpose and how are you using the pain?
I offer that we have to feel the suffering so that we can see through it, and come through it transformed. The creative energy that gets bottled up when we are in pain, can implode and make us very unhappy.
The final line in the poem, “When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing/ In testing times, we became the best of beings.”
We truly can become the best of beings by being grateful for the resilience and compassion this time requires, mostly towards ourselves. There is nothing we could have done to avoid this situation. Some things are out of our control. Creating balance and creating itself requires a listening-in to your inner world, and feeling the external circumstances.
Grief Births Creativity
The second inspiration this week speaks to creativity and is worth listening to. It is a commentary by Matt Nathonson on finding his creative voice. Nathan’s pressing on to find his music and the pressure he placed upon himself to sound like someone else felt pertinent to this conversation about grief.
We as artists can take what is happening so personally. Yes, we have to feel it, but when we tune in to the collective experience, we don’t have to heap on the pressure to be like others, and for our work to look like others. Finding our own unique expression is a lifelong journey.
Our lives have been upended. I can hear it, feel it, and see it in my own words, and in the people, I see and speak with. Balance needs to be restored by living through this experience. What words will you use to describe it? How will you reconnect with your creative voice? Grief and creativity can be closely related. Use this moment, feel this moment, and you may find there to be, a brilliant source of balance and creativity.
Journey to Healing
You can only overcome grief after you have embraced it and allowed yourself to go through the process. Here are some practical tips to help you deal with grief and begin restoring balance in your life:
Allow yourself to grieve as long as you need. Do not rush or cut it short. The process of dealing with grief can be challenging because it takes time to process and shows itself. Let yourself move at a slower pace.
Grieve intentionally. Set aside time to let all your emotions out. Journal or write down everything that you possibly can as you allow yourself to feel the sadness or pain. This signals to your brain that what you’re feeling may be negative but not necessarily dangerous.
Seek out the right emotional support. Talk to a therapist, family, or friend. Find someone who can listen to you compassionately and without judgment. It’s too easy to hide, retreat, and all not in a good way.
Be proactive about self-care. Engage with yourself simple actions that build hope and figure out what brings you joy. Make sure you have sufficient hours of sleep, make healthy eating choices, and set aside time for exercise and physical activities.