The Creative Arts – One Way of Expressing Grief

Support that is offered to bereaved parents often relies on talking as a way of expressing grief. Yet there are some human experiences that are so complex and so intensely emotional that words alone cannot do them justice. For many people, the death of a child is one of those experiences. Sometimes it is too hard to find the right words to adequately express grief, and other forms of expression seem to better tap into our deepest thoughts and feelings.

The following pictures illustrate the powerful emotions that can be evoked through the creative process. The mother, responsible for the art works, was one of many bereaved parents who participated in a series of Creative Arts groups that were held at the Victorian Red Nose Grief and Loss office.

“When I reflect on the process and look at the piece of work that I and others have created, it helps me find peace with my thoughts.”

“These classes are a time to be myself, away from the usual routine, and to reflect on my feelings and express myself without judgment. You don’t need to be creative – it’s about choosing materials and using them in any way to express your emotions, in the past, present or future.”

R’s daughter, Iris, died suddenly and unexpectedly when she was 3 years old. The following pieces of art were created by R. during the Art sessions, reflecting very powerfully her journey of grief.

“This piece was such a relief to make. It represents an image I have had in my mind from the first days after Iris died. I imagined my heart had been ripped from my chest and that I could only hold it together temporarily with string, rubber bands and paper clips. In the weeks after Iris died, if I was away from home for too long, I could physically feel my ‘scar’ opening up and I knew I had to get home. It really helped to see this feeling, which I had imagined/felt for so many months.”

This article was prepared using extracts from Your Child has Died: Some Answers To Your Questions.1 The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.

Last reviewed: 6/8/21