Creativity is something that already exists inside each of us. It needs only to be uncovered. Gwen Coleman Detwiler, opera singer
One of the steps to recovering from loss is to apply your creativity. This may mean writing about your experience, tapping into the visual arts, engaging in dance or music to express your grief. You can also apply your creativity to establish a new or different life for yourself without a spouse, mother, or other loved one.
To be human is to be creative. As we guard against pain or failure we block our vulnerability and creativity. Instead, be curious about your altered life and how you might use your creativity to express your feelings and explore new avenues for joy.
Affirmation: I am creative.
Coaching questions: How have you experienced your creativity in the past (think back to childhood if necessary)? What did it mean to you? What creative outlet will you use to heal yourself?
“My research shows that writing 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days about a traumatic or difficult event in your life has measurable health benefits that last for days, weeks, even months.” James W. Pennebaker, social psychologist, University of Texas, Austin
I’ve always been a writer. Years ago I wrote adoptive studies on prospective parents, poetry, a book. I earned a living writing newsletters, brochures, scripts. For my well-being, I’ve written daily gratitude journals, prayer journals, affirmations. I’ve never written for the specific purpose of healing, but I don’t doubt Pennebaker’s research.
Pennebaker’s believes that labeling your feelings and putting them into a story affects the immune system. When he speaks of healing, he’s talking about physical healing as well as emotional. Healing in his research is demonstrated by wound shrinkage. Research from New Zealand confirms the writing/physical healing connection. According to the BBC, the effect may be short-lived, but powerful.
Affirmation: My writing heals me.
Coaching questions: If you believe this research could be true, what will you write about? What difference do you expect it will make? When will you start?
The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor should you want to. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, psychiatrist, pioneer in near-death studies and author of On Death and Dying
I interviewed a 33-year-old woman today about her mother loss experience. She was 12 when her mother died. Articulate and introspective, the young woman was wise beyond her years. When I asked her about advice for other motherless daughters, she told me this story.
“When I was in second grade, my teacher used the illustration of a torn, red, paper heart to show us what it is like when we mistreat others. She then taped the heart back together and showed us how, even though the heart is whole again, the tear does not completely disappear. I think recovery from losing a mother at a young age is similar. You heal from your broken heart, but you are never quite the same, a part of the brokenness and sadness remains always.”
Affirmation: I can heal.
Coaching questions: How have you patched up your broken heart? How are you different because of your loss?
Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives. Author unknown.
Two of the most difficult mother loss stories I heard as I interviewed daughters for my book were the stories from daughters whose mothers were murdered by their husbands, the daughters’ step-fathers. When domestic abuse culminates in murder, there is much opportunity for anger, hate, blame, and depression.
Both of these daughters, one who lost her mother several years ago, the other, very recently, are both moving towards the goal of not allowing the damage of their horrific experience control their lives. They have both sought therapy, asked for support from friends and family, and have been gentle with themselves through their process of grief and healing. One daughter wrote a book entitled, The Third Return, about her mother’s life. Writing the book helped her to move on after the trial of her mother’s killer which lasted over eight years.
Affirmation: I can heal.
Coaching questions: What negative energy, if any, controls your life? What will help you to take back control?