Grieving and Creativity

October 8, 2008 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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How does grief affect the creative process?

Our 11 years old dog, Gypsy, died a few weeks ago. It completely threw me off the studio track into the dirt, literally. Rather than painting, I dug holes, moved rocks, and planted native plants. I needed to do something extremely physical, forget myself in the ache of burning muscles.

Now, back on course, I’m reflecting on times when I’ve lost loved people and pets, and how it affected artistic productivity. It varied greatly. For instance, when my Grandmother-in-law died in 1990, I buried myself in a frenzy of artwork, churning out very intuitive pieces, like Endangered, in a short time.

When I read my writer friend Ann’s, loving, funny tribute Goodbye, Henry, it reminded me of my need to write creatively about our dog Capone, after he died several years ago.

However, with Gypsy’s death, I pulled out the shovel, and, starting with her grave, split open the ground and dug.  Kept it up for about a week, digging, extracting rocks and boulders, refilling the spaces with Sugar Bush, Buckeye, and Flowering Apricot.

Hopefully, I wasn’t channeling Gypsy, as one of her favorite toys was a rock, and she loved digging for rocks! Probably not, but I feel better now. 

In looking back over my varied responses to death, it’s apparent that all sorrow needed defined acknowledgement, whether through ritual, words, creative outpouring, or digging holes.

Sorrow is our natural response to a big loss. Not to give it expression and voice in some form can lead to depression, which is debilitating and can kill creativity.

Writing this…I’m being tough, but it’s awful quiet here without her bark, her stirring up of the garbage…

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  1. Dear Joan, I am sorry about Gypsy. Grieving is always different… I do not want to have any more pets after we have to put to sleep Kaiser, a loving old black labrador…
    Perhaps one way (since you are such a good organizer) you can create a Mail Art Call about Grieving… or Creativity in Memory of… or both…


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