Expressing Your Grief Through Art: 7 Activities To Try

Art has been shown to help those who have experienced trauma. But did you know that it can also help to alleviate and process grief?
Expressing Your Grief Through Art: 7 Activities To Try

If you have recently experienced a loss, it can be difficult to transition back into your usual routine. It may seem like everyone is moving on except for you – like you’re just floating in some sort of transient space while you wait for your brain to play catch up. Here’s where grief art can help.

See, if you’re looking for a mindful way to channel your emotions, grief art is a great place to start. And unless you’re joining a paid art class (which is a great way to meet people and learn new skills), many of the following activities are free… and you don’t need any special skills to get started.

Here are 7 grief art ideas to try:

Get crafty with your hands

Want to create a long-lasting memory, but not sure where to begin? A grief scrapbook is a solid place to start. It may seem overwhelming, but if you set small goals, this could be a helpful way to channel your grief.

You could dedicate one hour per week, or aim to work on one page per day. The important thing is to set goals that feel achievable to you, and if you decide you’re not up for it one day, allow yourself the flexibility and the space to try again the next day… or the following week. 

Tip: You may prefer to go digital. Use your computer skills and whatever programs you like. This could be Canva, InDesign, or Photoshop, or even a slideshow or a short film… because getting crafty doesn’t have to literally mean whipping out the humble glue stick. 

Create music, or join a singing group

For some, it’s listening to the soft tunes of Taylor Swift. For others, it’s songs about death. And hey – even Metallica isn’t out of the question. No matter what genre you’re into, listening to music can help you heal.

You may also be dealing with feelings of sadness or anger, or feeling the need to wallow in your emotions for a while. That’s fine, too. Chuck on those headphones and roll with *all the feels*.

Tip: If the thought of writing an entire song is too much, jot down some lyrics. Or, join a music class or a singing group. 

Get dancing

If you and your loved one danced together, you could play some tunes and dance to the beat of the songs you both loved. Alternatively, have a solo dance party in your room. Dancing has real endorphin-power, and may help take you out of a grief funk. (Of course, it’s not a surefire fix, but it can offer temporary solace).

Tip: If Dancing On Your Own is not your style (sorry Robyn), sign up for a casual dance class. Not the best dancer? Join a gentle beginner’s class.

Write a grief journal

Love to write? Start a grief journal. You can fill the pages with literally anything, like poems, one-liners, sketches, shopping lists, quotes and more. This is an excellent way to get your thoughts out of your head … and who knows? You may even feel lighter once the ink has dried.

Tip: Set goals. Aim to write every morning, before bed, or whenever the inspiration strikes… but you don’t have to write every day. It’s your grief journal, so do it your way. 

Shoot a photography series

A photography series can be a great way to document and understand your grief. It can also act as a reminder of the progress you have made.

Tip: Need a little push? Enlist the help of a friend for this project, or sign up for a photography short course.

Craft a quilt out of a loved one’s clothes

For some, donating or re-gifting a loved one’s clothes feels like the right thing to do. Others may prefer to put their sewing or knitting skills to use and craft a quilt out of them, instead. T-shirts or sweaters are popular choices for a memorial quilt, but you can get creative… it’s completely up to you. 

Tip: If you feel ready to sort out your loved one’s closet, grouping items into multiple bins or boxes could help to bring a sense of order and practicality into a task that can otherwise be emotionally draining. For example, a ‘donation’ box, a ‘keep and wear’ box, a ‘store away for later’ box, and a ‘throw away’ bin for clothes that have seen better days. 

Design a grief tattoo

Gifted with a pen, paintbrush or graphic design, or just interested in getting inked? Design your very own grief tattoo. Cremation tattoos are another idea you could look into, too. This is when tattoo artists incorporate ashes into the tattoo ink to memorialise a loved one

Tip: Brainstorm a list of tattoo ideas before your consultation, or bring in design examples. A good, experienced tattoo artist will have the skill and compassion to help you create a design you’ll be proud to wear on your sleeve.

Wrap up

While grief activities are great ways to help process your emotions, feel close to your loved ones and be more in touch with yourself, remember that grief has no expiration date. These tough emotions will ebb and flow, but it’s important to feel them. After the bad days, come the good days. The good days are there to remind you that your loved one is right there, along for the ride with you. 

Grief activities can be healing, but they can also bring up some powerful emotions. For more information or support, read our Complete Guide to Grief Counselling and Bereavement Services in Australia (2022)

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