ART and the Grieving Cave

As a child, my mother made a big deal about making sure her rural county – living daughters were exposed to museums, parks, art, the city, plays, etc. I have wonderful memories of sitting next to her in the field by our house as she sketched. The long grass was itchy, but it didn’t seem to matter. We put out a blanket and just enjoyed the view to let our creativity flow. I definitely have appreciation for art. In fact, painting has helped me in the past deal with a hard break-up so many, many moons ago.

However, dealing with grief when it has to do with a parent has been harder to overcome. Dealing with a break up is easy in comparison, because when a relationship ends, you can convince yourself eventually that it ended because it wasn’t healthy or it wasn’t meant to be or you deserve better and more. Yet with Alzheimer’s, for example, it does not give us that fall back. Instead, we are left wondering why someone had to suffer. Why is there not more help for the person with Alzheimer’s and their families? How do I deal with this death when no one is better off? I have been grieving for so long, but the finality of the death is all consuming at times.

Grieving is a hard process. I have been through depression and eating disorders in the past so I know all too well that it is possible to just be swallowed up by life. I refuse to let that happen again. It can creep up on you though. As I look around the house, I can see the clutter, the laundry that was never put away, the empty notebooks that haven’t had words in them for a while. Sometimes in our grief, we just stop doing things. It is important to know when enough is enough. It can be hard to pull ourselves out of that deep, dark cave, but you have to make yourself wade through that mud, climb the seemingly impossible wall, and use your muscles to pull yourself out even when it seems hopeless.

The cave analogy may seem weird, but I have never claimed to not be weird. As I get older, I find myself wanting to share and be more open about my weirdness versus hiding it. I am a visual person. In a previous post, I mentioned that I have self-diagnosed myself with ticker tape synesthesia. I “see” words as people say them. Talk too fast and they get jumbled up. Speak with an accent and I cannot “read” what you say. Too many people talking at once? Forget about me listening anymore and I go into my own world. The point is that your depression or your grief may feel differently than a cave, but the outcome must be the same. You still need to find a way out or at least a way to breathe with that stale air until you can finally breathe the fresh air of Spring flowers once again.

So I can either let myself go deeper into the never ending cave or not. I choose to do something about it. That is the key. It can be hard to find that key, because the cave is alive and likes to hide it. Sometimes it is under a heavy rock just out of your reach or sometimes it is deeper in the mud, making you work your ass off just to take a glimpse at it before the mud slides in all around it making it harder to reach. Regardless, you need to work for it.

That means:

  • Listening to music even when you feel like it won’t help. Lately, I have been listening to Donavon Frankenreiter and good ol’ school Guns N’ Roses. Nothing makes you feel better than singing along to Axl with Patience. Or maybe that is just me? And yes, I still have his autograph from when he signed my Dirty Dancing jeans shorts! EEk!! (Yeah, I am that old.)
  • Work towards something. Take something you love and go one step more. For me, I LOVE yoga. So I decided to take it one step forward and signed up to learn how to teach yoga to children. I am one step away from finishing. It feels good to work towards something; it brings the light further into the cave.
  • Watch a series that you can get into. It sounds mundane, but it can also give you inspiration if you choose wisely. I recently watched 11.22.63. I am late to the party, but I am a huge Stephen King fan so it is never too late to read or watch something that he had a hand in creating. He is so talented. Surprisingly, I am now also a fan of James Franco. I can only name a couple of movies he has been in, but obviously have heard of the Franco name. I have a new respect for him now and am inspired. Yes, he is weird, but again, I gravitate toward the weird. Who says your normal is normal? Maybe it was him or maybe it was Stephen King or maybe it was both. Whatever it was, it left me wanting more. It left me feeling inspired that this show, even after it ended, can make me think about life and the choices we make; that James Franco’s smile (and all of his talent) can seem like a true smile with eyes shining, yet it was just an “acting smile” meaning it left me feeling inspired. Inspired for more creativity in my life (i.e. more light into the cave).
  • Get back into nature. There is nothing I love more than glamping or camping. I love going on hikes and relaxing in a hammock listening to the birds and the squirrels scampering about. It is truly good for the soul.
  • Create. Find something creative to do. For me, it is writing. Yes, I am blogging but that isn’t my passion. I am back to writing baby. I wrote a children’s story while out camping a couple weeks ago. Ideas are coming back to me and I am writing them down every chance I get. Even in the shower…

Art isn’t just about paintings in the museum or classical music. It is about creativity. Look around and you can see this art, this creativity, everywhere…. listening to Phish, the way Rodney Yee talks and explains yoga positions, an entertaining book, and yes, even James Franco‘s smile. Although I do prefer watching Ed Harris. I have enjoyed his talent for decades. Sorry James, Ed is ahead of you by far, but maybe in time. 🙂

The point is that if you use the creativity around you, for you, and even to help others, it can help you heal. It can make the cave a little brighter until one day you realize that you are no longer in that cave. Sending healing light your way.


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