Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was the researcher who outlined the five stages of grief. The stages do not only apply to an end of life situation, they apply to any form of loss. A job change, a divorce, a pet’s life ending, A child going away to school, a change in our circumstances that we were not expecting, anything in which we experience loss. To help me deal with my Dad’s passing, I started a journal where I can express through art, creativity and mixed media the feelings and words rumbling around our home. Family members have given me ideas and we then have worked together to put it down on paper.
This page is a quote from Kubler-Ross and reminds us that we need to live without conforming to the “external definitions of who and what we are.” We need to live our lives as our genuine selves, which means embracing the variety of emotions, reactions, and feelings we experience along the way. It can be tough and quite a roller coaster ride to handle life’s losses, especially if they were unexpected. And it can be just as tough to handle triumphs, wonderful surprises or even positive changes. To know how to handle all these things, we need to spend time knowing ourselves.
Knowing ourselves begs the question, who am I and what am I doing here? Those are two very powerful questions, one most of us avoid at all costs. We blaze a trail, work hard along that trail, often never looking up or left or right to figure out where that trail is leading us, or if it is even the right path to be blazing. Living as our genuine selves means facing the good, the bad and the ugly about ourselves and then doing something about it. Whew! As if loss were not enough, we need to then face our own self on top of it all? Yikes, that is a lot, an adventure, and a trail worth traveling.
One of the things that helps me through all this is journaling. In my case I journal through art by using words – mine or someone else’s – to help express and think through the many layers rolling around in my brain. Some pages have lots of words, some only have a few. The goal is not to fill the journal to entertain people; the goal is to express things so they do not eat me up alive. However it is done, being able to have a safe place to express our thoughts, ideas, concerns, and emotions without being judged is vital to healthy living. If we hold all that in too long, we explode and end up destroying our world.
I appreciate your reading these posts, and allowing me to share what is happening in my world. I hope that my art and words help you too process through what is happening on your end of all this. Stay tuned as I plan to take pages out of the journal and share them in some form or fashion.