As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.
Dealing with Loss can be extremely difficult and straining on your life as well as those around you. Everything changes, your routines are out of whack, everything you thought you knew is now in question... it's a difficult time.
Loss is a common and universal experience. Even under the best of circumstances, each of us faces losses at various points in our lives - perhaps the loss of a loved one, one's health, a job, or a home - leaving us depressed, empty and confused.
Art therapy has become an important way to help people explore and express feelings associated with mourning. After a loss some people become numb in order to avoid feeling pain, while other resign themselves to what has happened, burying feelings of distress and sadness. Because feelings are at the root of any loss, art therapy can be particularly useful, helping grieving individuals express their emotions and create a new view of themselves and of life after loss.
Dealing with Loss
by Michelle Springett
The painful experience of loss changes our life forever, no matter what the loss... Losses are difficult experiences that take us on a journey of sadness, heartbreak, even physical pain before we begin the road to healing and recovery.
During my years as a Funeral Director, I quickly learned there are no words that instantly heal, and it was only by showing compassion and empathy, and answering questions honestly, that I was invited (unfortunately) back time and time again.
Grief is the response to loss that needs to be worked through. We all grieve differently and need to take our own time.
Loss is something we tend to bury deep. In many cultures we don’t talk about our loss as we probably should. It’s painful and we need to talk about it, but most of us feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to do, what to say, or how to be of help to others going through loss.
Memories are sometimes all we have, and we hear people say ‘Be thankful for the memories’ ... yeah, that’s not easy at the time of loss.
It can be the smallest hint of a memory that brings emotions flooding back in a millisecond, like whenever I see a small-framed elderly lady walking down the street, I immediately wonder if it’s my Mum...
When I lost my Mum, I felt like I lost part of my soul. The physical pain in my chest was unbearable - even though we were expecting her to pass.
When my first husband cheated on me, my life fell apart. I felt like I’d lost my identity; I lost my close friends and I even lost family members. It was heartbreaking and most of it was out of my control.
Just months ago, a dear friend’s daughter took her life, and the unexpected death has created so much pain, so many questions, not only for the family, but to our entire community.
Losing your job, your home and your pet can be big life changing moments. Our brain brings up our fears around self worth, expenses, employability, putting food on the table. Because the brain doesn’t like uncertainty, it gets afraid. Understanding ‘our why’ we are feeling uncertain and afraid, is the key to taking forward steps.
“If you’re going through loss, you need to believe you will be okay - not just think you will be ok, but really deep down gut-feel believe it”
By becoming more aware of our thoughts, it’s amazing how quick we can change our thinking to be more of strength and survival mode and get creative to pull us forward. Fill our thoughts with good news, humour and things that we love, after all, our thoughts are our superpower! We need to stay as positive as possible, and try to focus on a plan to make the most of this pivotal point.
What can you do for others who are grieving a loss? Please don’t think you are helping by telling them to ‘Let it go, get on with life, rebuild or start over’. These words are not at all helpful. Just be there for them, be present, even if they don’t want to talk. Be there and ready for when their words do come. And then - just listen. There is no need for advice, just try to understand. Sometimes silence is actually best. Show empathy by putting yourself in their shoes for just a minute.
Understand that change and loss is part of our human experience, so don’t be afraid.
If you fear change, then challenge yourself often with both big and small challenges. Fear can hold you back and can certainly take you on a downward spiral.
We have to work on it, it’s not easy - even for those of us, like me, who love change, have to learn to adjust!
If you are dealing with any kind of loss, be kind to yourself. Give yourself time and understand that those around you won’t always know what to say or what to do.
Go gently, and I trust you will find strength and healing over time. It’s important you know there is help should you need it.
Remember your local Lifeline or crisis support facilities is there for you also.
And try some art therapy!
How sessions of
can help through difficult times
What a session looks like
We begin by checking in with how you are and see if there is anything specific you would like to explore straight away. You'll make art and there will be time to engage with your finished art and find the hidden gems within. Insights and strategies will be discussed to encourage positive thinking, effective behaviours and emotional rebalancing.
When you produce art you connect with your subconscious mind, so expect long periods of silence when we work together. Tapping into your thoughts at this time is where you will find answers.
If necessary, homework may be encouraged.
Do you need your own art supplies?
All materials are provided if you are in my studio.
If you are working online, materials will be whatever you have available; paper, sketchbook, pencils, crayons, paint, canvas etc.
Ways to deal with Loss
Time to Heal : Give yourself time to heal. There is no magic healing that can speed up the process, it's an individual journey.
Journalling : Writing is a powerful therapy tool. Grab a journal and start writing. It doesn't matter what you write, it may surprise you what comes out in your writing once you start and let go.
Draw and Paint : I recommend you capture your loss by drawing the sad times and painting the good times. Get you fingers into the paint and explore and express through the art.
Collage Photos : All those beautiful memories can be captured in a collage for the wall or in a book. The process of elimination can be difficult but give it a go, it will be worth it.
Time for Yourself : The most important thing you can do at this time is to take time for yourself. Set aside an afternoon or day a week to do something that you normally wouldn't do.
Share with me’... is the invisible sign that I feel is tattooed on my forehead.
For as long as I can recall, people feel comfortable sharing their life's journey with me, whether it be their darkest secrets, their fears, or their triumphs and joys. Now 50+, I love learning to use that to help others.
For over 20 years I have helped small business owners with their marketing and graphic design, then I took a sharp detour into something very different - I trained as a Funeral Director. Connecting with families in their darkest hour was such a blessing, however I felt helpless that there was nothing I could do for them after their loss, many were left to manage on their own. So I trained as a Life Coach and soon discovered that for most of us find it difficult to convey our true feelings in words and that is when I trained as an Art Therapist to help overcome our lack of words. Art shows us many ways that our connection with our art can represent our feelings and emotions, a true way of expression.
I have enjoyed many life-lessons consisting of mis-take(s) and successes and I recognise that it's all been 'work-experience' to get me to here. I started my art journey very young and left it behind for many years and 2020 allowed me to pivot into becoming my true authentic self, as an Art Therapist; which has become my tool for helping and teaching others about their own emotional wellbeing, by listening and hearing what they need to say, assisting them to thrive in areas that are passionate for them.
This is me getting messy!
Expressive Art - changing lives, one canvas at a time!
What others say
Thank you Michelle for giving my girl an amazing day, she feels so calm and still on a high. Words cannot express my gratitude to you. Truly apprecite it. Nicole