This is Day 7 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.
I made it to one week! It feels like I have been doing this a year already. It is very intense to carry this grief in such a conscious, present way throughout my daily life. In one way it makes the grief more real - it forces me to feel my sorrow more deeply. But at the same time, it is truly helping me carry this grief in a new way. My grief is like a companion now. We walk and talk together. We have coffee every morning together and we cry and laugh together. Grief doesn't sneak in to the house at night and punch me in the guts quite as often anymore (but it still happens).
I've noticed that I have mostly been taking self-portraits so far. "Grief Selfies" if you will. I didn't used to be so comfortable taking pictures of myself, until I took Vivienne McMaster's Be Your Own Beloved e-course. Here is how she describes this course in her own words:
"Be Your Own Beloved is a 28 day photo adventure designed to cultivate self-reflection and self-compassion through the practice of taking self-portraits. They say it takes 28 days to change or start a new habit, so in the month of February, you are invited to take a small yet powerful action each day to be your own beloved this February and cultivate self-love and self-care during the month that is so focused on external love."My life totally changed after participating in this course, because I learned to look at myself in a completely different way. It is so empowering, as a woman, to focus on documenting myself in a loving way, as opposed to a harsh, critical and judgmental way. I can't recommend her courses enough. She is a true treasure in the world. The organization I used to work for interviewed her in the Fall of 2014 and it's a great read, if you want to more about her own healing experience with self-portraiture.
|My "Be Your Own Beloved" self-portrait #18 - "Take a Picture of Your Shadow" (2013)|
Along with the above, you can see more of my 28 Be Your Own Beloved self-portraits here. Synchronistically, I started that project 3 years ago this month. I love when those patterns match up. It always makes me take special note of the greater workings at play in my life and the greater universe. It's so powerful and moving to see how deeply the bravery I grew in that course has now woven into my creative life, so that it is just second nature to take self-portraits for healing. Now I don't think twice about taking a photo of myself. Now I even take "Grief Selfies."
Recently, I linked to an article called In Defense of the Grief Selfie on my Facebook page. A woman named Eleanor is quoted in that article and what she said about expressing emotion through art moved me to tears:
"There was a time when I didn’t have the words to describe my grief even privately. In those early days the only tool I had for self expression was my camera. On the days when I felt really bad I would prop my camera up on a stack of books and take Self-Portraits, feverishly running back and forth between the shutter button and a pose, over and over again until I felt better. I truly don’t like being photographed, but it felt so satisfying to get my feelings out into the world without having to talk, or describe, or explain. You want to know how I’m feeling? Look, this is how I’m feeling. To this day when I feel so depressed and/or anxious that I can’t put together a coherent sentence, I turn to my camera. The results almost always channel my mother in one way shape or form."Through this creative grief project, I am honoring my grief. I am living with it. I am creating with it. I'm thankful for art. I'm thankful I'm brave. I'm thankful you are still following along on my grief journey, alongside me.
I am very aware that this project can bring up a lot around yours or other's grief and loss, I will always follow every post some online grief support resources that have helped me. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:
- Self-Portraits: Expressing Emotion Through Art on What's Your Grief?
- Grief Bibliography on Grief Healing
- The Hard Romance of Grief by Mark Liebenow
- A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
- Megan Devine’s Refuge in Grief
- The Geography of Sorrow: Francis Weller on Navigating Our Loses, interviewed by Tim McKee in Sun Magazine
- The poetry of John O’Donohue
- How to Be a Friend in Deed by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times
- 12 Things to Know About the First Year of Grieving Someone You Can’t Live Without by Laurie Costanza in Elephant Magazine
Thank you, and see you tomorrow.