The Creative Ache in Grief

When I grieve, I shut down. Most of the time I won’t let myself cry in front of anyone else. I’m just trying to hold it together.

I couldn’t speak to anyone without fear of crying.

My creative spark shut down too. When I sat down to paint or draw, the brush or pencil seemed heavier than Thor’s hammer. Impossible to pick up. Impossible to wield.

I tried to sing to ease the pain of my heavy heart; but even songs of the greatest melancholy left me dry.

At the same time I felt the deep ache to create.

I’m learning to let it out. To seek out safe places where I can ugly cry and no one will care. It helps. It’s much more healing than holding it in.

I took to writing. It helped me get out what I wanted to say, to process my thoughts, with no one to see me sobbing but my computer screen.

Some time ago, when I was visiting my parents and attended my mother’s church, I listened to a lady sing. She sang a powerful solo with tears streaming down her face; yet her voice never wavered. I was amazed. My own nerves could always be heard whenever I was asked to sing solo. I couldn’t imagine being that emotional, crying while singing, and yet my voice not being impacted. When I asked her how she managed it she said, “You can’t fight it. You have to just allow yourself to cry. Fighting it is what makes everything else go bad.”

There’s no way around pain. We can try to avoid it, but it just ends up hurting us more. Grief has to be allowed. Like a river, it plots its own course, not always going where you’d expect. The boulders and trees and mountains of each person’s life make it move and flow differently for different individuals. It must be allowed to flow.


It’s been months since I sat down and wrote the above. At the time my grief was still so heavy. I was ready to go off on the next person who told me to “just get another dog.” The idea of EVER getting another dog felt like a pole impaling my chest.

I fought to find an outlet. I tried to paint, feeling nearly manic about it, as if I started to sketch or apply brush strokes to paper or canvas I wouldn’t be able to stop. Would all night be enough to let it out? Would all weekend? Would any measure of time be sufficient to put a dent in it? In the end, I couldn’t even start.

I’m not sure what happened, what changed. At the 6 month anniversary of my little dog’s death I was still so full of pain; but a short time later it was like a door in my heart opened and allowed in sun and fresh air and I could genuinely see myself, one day, getting another dog.

I’ve also been able to be creative again. Not to the extent I’d like, not yet…but little by little. Creating a necklace for a friend, ready to do some bracelets for another. Working slowly on some watercolors for my sister, and an acrylic for a friend. Writing more regularly and more creatively than my normal wrestling with words to figure out what I’m feeling. I’m sure not everyone has this same creative ache in their grief, but maybe some do. And finally I feel the freedom and breath of life and love reaching back into those painful, wounded places…bringing healing.


About findingmyselfinhim

I'm a single Christian bookworm learning daily how much I don't know about ...well, everything. Instead of trying to find myself out "there", I'm trying to find myself in Him.
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