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How Art Therapy Helps Process Grief, Loss and Manage Symptoms

Anna Toane
Anna Toane
March 13th 2024 - 4 minute read
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There are numerous forms of therapy to help you move forward from grief and loss, and art therapy is one of them.

Anna Toane

Grieving is a natural response to the loss of someone dear and it manifests in different ways. Every person deals with grief in their own way, but for most, adjusting to loss is a long process. There's also a difference in the way children grieve, as they don't have the same mechanisms to deal with a loss as adults do.

Therapy is a common way to get help to cope with the feelings of sadness when grieving. But just like in the case of grieving, not everyone responds the same to different types of therapy. The good news is that there are numerous forms of therapy to help you move forward, and art therapy is one of them.

Art therapy is a safe outlet

A form of psychotherapy that encourages individuals to express themselves via various creative mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, or ceramic, art therapy allows you to express your feelings when you find it too difficult to express them with words.

When you don't feel like talking about your grief, your feelings get bottled up. Instead of keeping your pain inside, you can release it via a safe outlet, and art therapy is the perfect choice for people of all ages.

Art therapy helps with most grief symptoms

Even though people process loss differently, some grief symptoms are common in the majority of cases. These include missing the deceased, crying, feelings of fear and loneliness, intrusive thoughts and memories of the deceased, and feelings of hopelessness.

Most people tend to isolate themselves when grieving, and they may also experience numbness of emotions. Art therapy can assist you in processing these feelings not only by giving you something to do to take your mind off your grief, but also by helping you explore the underlying feelings associated with loss.

Art therapy is extra helpful for children

Art therapy is particularly helpful for children and youth, who can use it to express their emotions while also developing a better understanding on the meaning of death or loss.

Children typically have a hard time accepting the permanence of loss, and art therapy can help them explore identity in relation to loss while also creating feelings of safety and security. Art therapy can also help young ones commemorate their loved ones and remember their connection to them.

It takes your mind off of grief

Many people turn to art therapy as a way to express grief and avoid bottling up their feelings. But art therapy is also an activity that can take your mind off of your grief altogether. By taking up painting, drawing, or sculpting, you can enjoy a relaxing activity that allows you to detach and live in the moment instead of thinking of your loss continuously.

For many people, art becomes a form of meditation, which helps you find inner peace. Most artistic activities are repetitive and soothing, so they work great when it comes to creating a sense of calmness. Studies have showed that creating art increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, which help fight depression.

You don't need to have artistic abilities to benefit from art therapy

It's not necessary to have artistic abilities to reap the benefits of art therapy, and people from all ages can try it. There is even research showing that simply being in the presence of art can help boost mental health, which is especially important when you're grieving.

Many people wonder how art therapy session are different from regular art classes. Instead of focusing on the finished product or teaching various techniques, art therapy is more about allowing individuals to focus on their feelings and inner experience.

As such, it doesn't matter whether you have any previous art experience in order to benefit from art therapy. The purpose of this therapy is to provide you with a medium where you can express yourself in a way that you can't do with words, and the finished product is never the focus of this exercise.

Grief is unique to each person, which means that there is no one way to get through it. For most people, dealing with grief is not a linear process, as you adapt to the feelings of loss over time. Engaging in creative activities may improve mindful attention and regulate the highs and lows of grief.

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