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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Art Therapy 5: Understanding Grief Part 8 of 8 - Acceptance & Hope (Phase 7)

There is probably not one of us who have not had to deal with the devastating effects of losing someone dear to us. Everyone grieves in their own way and it would be a cheap attempt to say that one formula fits all. Yet, numerous attempts have been made to identify the phases that people in grief pass through and seven have been agreed upon to be more or less universal. We will take a look at these phases in an attempt to gain some form of understanding for the process we are passing through. We take this journey in the form of an art journal, attempting to somehow find a means of dealing with the loss we have experienced and continue to experience still. In this last blog of the eight part series, we look at the seventh phase identified, namely acceptance and hope.
This blog is co-authored by Marietjie Uys (artist) and Melette Els (therapist).
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

We start with the reverse side of the previous page, and the reverse side of the back cover of the album for journal-ling this stage of the grieving process.
We've come full circle, being on the reverse side of the back cover. The back cover was done at the start of our journey, when we still specified what we hoped we might gain through this process. The important word here is HOPE. The one thing that death robs us of is hope. We can not hope for death to be reversed. Without hope we have nothing to live for and no future to look forward to. I you have regained hope for the future, you have come a long way! Hope is the foundation for courage. Hope is the one thing that can motivate us to move forward. Small pieces of hope grouped together can form small islands of hope. As these islands increase and band together, they can become continents of hope, forming an anchor of stability. This sets dreams free.
One can never undo the loss. However, one can learn to live with the loss. Acceptance means different things to different people. Choose the word or terminology you feel most comfortable here, e.g acceptance, living with loss, making peace with loss, etc.

This time I choose to paint my background a very positive and upbeat Lime using Dala Craft Paint. This colour represents life, vibrancy and energy to me. It is a colour that makes me feel as if anything is possible and this is where we finally are in this stage of the grieving process where we have reached a point of acceptance and hope. This does not mean that we experience instant happiness, but our pain has turned to sadness and it is not overwhelming us any longer. We have reached a point where we can plan for the future and, dare we say, even anticipate good times in the future.
Which colour will you be using? Why? What does your chosen colour represent to you? How do you feel about choosing this colour and starting this part of the journey.

Find a magazine that speaks to who you are and what you are about. You are more likely find pictures that appeal to you in such a magazine, than in another. We will be cutting pictures from this magazine, so it should not be one that you treasure.

Page through the magazine a couple of times while you think of pictures that could represent the things you want to fill your life with. When you have selected, discarded, and re-selected the pictures mentally, you are finally ready to cut out your final selections.
In making these decisions you are deciding on things that are important to you, and you are setting markers for your journey ahead.Of course these are not cast in stone. They can, and probably will, change. The important thing is that you are laying beacons in place in hope of a doing and being. In other words, you are the architect of your own future.

Plan the layout of your pictures to make sure they fit on your page and then start with the bottom layer of pictures. This can be compared to a reality check with a friend where you sit down and talk about your plans and ideas for your future. Use your Dala Acrylic Gel Medium to coat the reverse side of the first picture.

Stick this picture down and then seal it with another coat from the Acrylic Gel Medium. I chose this drawing of a partial world map and plane to represent my desire to travel and explore the world.

I also love hikes and was thrilled to find this photo of hikers in the magazine.

This picture simply reminded me of my family and early childhood when Elvis was still the news of the day. I wanted to make sure to take better care of my family relationships.

This photo of the boy with a guitar spoke to my love of music. Perhaps I should even consider taking up learning a new instrument?

This drawing of a piggy bank addressed the practical issues surrounding earnings, work and finances. There is a imminent need to address these issues.

The nostalgia awoken by the wind pump spoke to a longing to get more grounded with the peace that is found in the great outdoors and the less crowded rural areas. I should make a point of simply getting away from it all more often.

I loved these three drawings I found that spoke to me about all the facets of communication that is important to me. The radio with the big ears attached to it, reminds me to listen for new and innovative inputs from friends and other sources. The two speech bubbles, connected to each other like balloons on a string, talks about communicating with someone in a way where you make a connection with that person, meaningful communication. The last of the three pictures, with the speech horn, reminds me how important it is to me to find my voice and to speak out on issues that are important to me.

Lifelong learning has always been of great importance to me and this rucksack and book certainly represents this very important aspect to me.

I have also always enjoyed reading, be it fiction, or non-fiction. Adding a drawing of a stack of books to the layout was a no-brainer.

Coffee represents small rewards to me. Every time I have achieved something, however small, I tend to reward myself with a cup of coffee in acknowledgement of the achievement. Big success are celebrated with a designer coffee at a good coffee house. I put this drawing of a steaming coffee cup in to remember to acknowledge and celebrate both the smaller and bigger achievements.

I definitely had to include my hobbies in my future and did this by adding the photo of a woman at a sewing machine.

I wanted to make a point of taking care of my health and included this with this cute picture of a little girl playing at being a doctor.

My faith in God plays a pivotal part in my life and I would not be happy with a life that did not have lots of space for Him. This photo of an old Bible represents this aspect of life for me.

I love baking and experimenting in the kitchen and found a book review of a recipe book and used this photo to represent my kitchen activities.

Hanging out with friends, and actually leaving the house to do so, is brilliantly illustrated by this fortunate find of a drawing of three women standing next to a car.

My future would still hold a place for my lost loved one and this picture of a heart holding out a bunch of flowers to another heart that has been broken and is crying, is a brilliant illustration for including this aspect of my perceived life.
It is a great idea to add this in. You do not need to leave your loved one behind. You can take your memories with you into the future.

I have always loved walking through museums and visiting antique shops. This illustration of an old gramophone player reminds me of the peace that is to be found in nostalgia.

 One of the most important aspects of my life is art and I was happy to find this drawing of an artist's palette and paint brush to represent this aspect.

With my envisioned life finally presented in pictures, I use a fine liner black marker to add a couple of guiding words to the illustrations. Some of you will want to do a substantial amount of writing, and other will only want to include key words. This is entirely up to yourself.

Both pages received some additional journalling where I wrote short key words to remind me of the original meaning of those pictures to me. You should feel free to be more descriptive, if you so choose. There is no hard and fast rule that says you have to be cryptic in your journaling.

I then used a huge black chisel point marker to write the title of these journal pages:

Hope and Acceptance.
How does this make you feel?
Describe your emotions when looking at this page.
What emotions do you experience when paging through your journal?

An overview of these last journal pages side by side.

With all seven stages of the grieving process journalled, we can now put the final journal pages into the album and construct all of them into a unity. You may want to revisit some of the stages and add some more ideas of your own. Make this journal something you can use to overcome your loss. Nothing we did here can change anything, or even make it better. All we can do is to help you gain some kind of understanding of what it is you are experiencing. Perhaps, it helps to know that others have also been there and survived?

Before we go, I want you to stop at the back cover once more. Can you see how far you have come? Are you any closer to reaching the goals you have set for yourself starting out on this journey?
What parts/aspects of your process deserves acknowledgement?
Is there anyone you would like to share your experiences of this process with?

Melette Els (Clinical Social Work) can be contacted via the webpage, or by email at, or by phone at 082 776 1536.
Melette Els B.A. (SocSc) M. (Th) 
BHF Pr Nr.: 089 000 00 28754 SACSSP Reg.Nr.: 10-17310

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy her books here:You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
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