It seems this year has had sorrow upon sorrow, and while I try not to stuff down my feelings, it’s been difficult to process my grief - to the point it felt that grief was not just part of life, but that it was actually defining me.
Realizing grief is a process, I’ve been intentional about talking about my feelings of loss, and journaling. In the past I’ve also gone through grief counseling. These are all good things, but it seemed as if I were stuck in grief and not moving forward. After a while I just kept myself busy in hopes that would be helpful. It wasn’t.
By sheer coincidence, I started processing grief through art. I’ve been doing a series of photographs to illustrate both the elements and principles of art. Rather than just do photographs of each element (such as line, color, or shape among other things) I decided to do a series of the principles of art (things such as contrast, value and space) with the unifying theme of grief.
This has done two things. Using visual imagery and the creative process has connected me to myself again. Grief is no longer this huge boulder I have to negotiate around. I’m chipping away at it and its prominence has lessened. It’s also reconnected me to the creative process which has been such a struggle. Now I have ideas to communicate - even it it’s just for myself and not for display. I’m even carrying around a sketchbook again.
Life will always contain grief. It’s a sign of having loved and it is just one of those hard facts. It’s not something you simply shake off, but you can work through it. You just have to find what works for you.
One size definitely does not fit all.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.