Grief and the Arts
Grief and the Arts
The arts, such as music, film, and literature, have long been sources of comfort and inspiration for grief-stricken individuals. Creators express and deal with their grief through their medium of choice, while viewers take in the subjects and resonate with them. It’s important to seek out the art forms that can help you understand grief. You come to innately understand that you are not alone, and that others have felt exactly what you feel, and have created works of art as a result. You can feel the interconnection, universality, and similarities as strongly as if you made the work yourself.
Below are some examples of grief and the arts that can give you insights and hopefully remind you of the positives in life.
A Grief Observed
“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?” – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis is a collection of thoughts and musings written after the passing of his wife. She died of cancer only 3 years after the couple got married. Lewis wrestles with his faith, his social life, his personal beliefs, and more. The book lets you identify with someone on the grounds of questioning, and you can find many of the questions he raises are questions we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another.
“At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is. Oh right, that.” – Nat, Rabbit Hole.
Rabbit Hole is a film that observes the life of a married couple after their 4-year-old son is killed by an inattentive teen driver. Nicole Kidman’s character eventually meets and forgives the driver, but her husband is not so readily forgiving. The film showcases how grief is both shared and separated; there is tension and misunderstanding when there isn’t communication. What drives the point home is that nothing about the situation is unique – thousands of individuals suffer the same way. The difference is in how the grief is processed, and the steps everyone takes to move through it.
Tears in Heaven
“Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?” – Eric Clapton, Tears in Heaven.
Written in the aftermath of his young son’s untimely death, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton is one of his best-known songs that has reached millions of ears. The song deals with uncertainty, self-observation, and acceptance. Parental grief is an intense form of suffering, but a song like this lets grieving parents know that everyone, no matter the level of fame or amount of riches, can share similar feelings. It is a simple reminder that people are people, and grief is grief.
Using Grief and the Arts to Cope
Absorbing the feelings that come from the arts is one thing, but it’s another altogether to embark on a creative process. Art therapy, music therapy, and other creative outlets can help you process grief. You do not need to be artistically inclined; in therapy, it’s all about the journey, and not the destination. Grief and the arts will always be intertwined – you may find comfort somewhere within them.