Coping with Grief Through Art

Dr. Kenneth J. Doka is a licensed mental health counselor and preeminent expert in grief. He is Professor of Gerontology at the Graduate School of the College of New Rochelle as well as Senior Consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America and an ordained Lutheran minister. Dr. Doka speaks around the world on dying, death, and bereavement, and his work has been featured in national publications and media outlets such as Time, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and Nightline.

grief, sadLearning to express oneself through creating art is one way many people find relief after a major loss. Perhaps you enjoyed playing guitar in your youth and haven’t done in years, or there is an art class at a community college that you have been meaning to take. The medium does not matter, the importance is in trying. Learn more about navigating the grieving process in Grief Is a Journey: Finding Your Path Through Loss.

You can use your talents and interests as you journey with grief. Whether it is writing poetry or prose; painting; singing; photography; or any other method, you can use these approaches to help yourself express your grief.

John Gunther memorialized his son in Death Be Not Proud, and Beth Neilsen Chapman composed and wrote “Sand and Water” as a tribute to her late husband, Ernest Chapman. Fourteen-year-old Brianna Reynolds memorialized the young students massacred in a neighboring school district with her poem “Meaningless Bullets.”

Grief Is a Journey

Grief Is a Journey

by Kenneth J. Doka

  • Get Grief Is a Journey
  • Get Grief Is a Journey
  • Get Grief Is a Journey

Expressive approaches work because they are natural. You are simply using a common activity to express what you are experiencing. These approaches are reflective—allowing you to explore fully your reactions. They are cathartic—releasing pent-up energy as you engage in the activity. They draw from your inner self—connecting you to your culture, background, and beliefs. Finally, they work—in their own way. Intuitive grievers can express their emotions, while more instrumental grievers recollect and re-experience memories.

There’s really no such thing as closure; it’s about learning to live with the loss.

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