Drawing Grief and Loss

Every week I join this lovely therapy group over Zoom and each week is a thematic exercise. This week we were asked to draw what our grief looked like when the loss happened and what it looks like now. I also learned that grief means the internal reactions we do to process loss. Mourning is the term for how we show it in the real world. I often get these words mixed up.

Grief presented when it happened before and how it manifests now in the present

It was weird using my drawing and coloring pencils because they’re tools I would normally use for fun. Applying them to something traumatic was like soiling their purity. Maybe the good thing about it was they were symbolic of reconciling with the past because some of my pencils were literally purchased during my urban design architect days.

I thought my drawings were pretty simplistic and rudimentary but after I started coloring things in, they really spoke to me. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with a wave of sadness for both the past and present.

My grief before picture represents me driving away from the hospital. In a way I’m racing away as fast as I can, eyes wide open, gripping the steering wheel. But to where? The colored objects are books and resources and even new cities I tried to escape to find solace in. I was racing to find information to cure the thing that caused it. The thing is, I’m still stuck in the hospital, like I never left, the wavy lines left and right of my eyes represent the hospital bed. The energy around me like a barrier keeping me stuck in bed.

The “bed” is reapplied to the present moment. My grief now is me, whole, but black and white, lifeless and still. I’m in purgatory, barely alive floating in a lovely river. In my meditations these past two years, I often envision a deep stream moving rapidly with lush foliage all around. I’m just floating on top, peaceful yet frozen.

I was a little embarrassed to show this, only because I don’t feel genuinely in a better place right now (in regards to this specific grief). However in many ways this is an improvement because it means I acknowledge that the past was full of frenetic undirected energy. It was a coping mechanism, a way to process grief by being busy. Letting go, becoming adrift, was the right to do. I just hope in the future I will end up upon a beach.

The wonderful part of sharing in a group was seeing the recurring themes and connections between us even though our traumas are so different. The themes of nature, paths, an environment, a space, all resonated. I saw a lot of transition between one difficult space to another. I didn’t feel so alone in the human experience.