Using Art to Cope with Grief

Creative Coping / Creative Coping : Eleanor Haley

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You know that we spend a lot amount of time musing about 'coping' with grief. Add creativity, art, and photography to the mix, and you might find us writing ourselves in circles. What does it mean to create art as we grieve and to grieve as we create art? How does creation help us cope and how does coping help us create?

The more we write and create and share, the more we intersect with amazing people asking the same questions. We never stop being grateful when these individuals trust us enough to share their art, their grief, and their thoughts.

Lauren Irma Altman is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice explores psychology through video, photo, installation, writing, and mixed-media. She finds that her grief intersects with her art and her art plays a huge role in her coping. After reading our musings on coping, she shared hers in return. And we're very grateful she has been kind enough to let us share them here.

As I’ve been creating this new series work in my studio, I’ve been thinking and exploring what it means to cope—how do we endure and work through experiences and emotions that life brings without succumbing to them, without letting them overtake us and cloud our perception of life? ⁣

For me, these questions stem from the underlying basis of why I create art, which is to understand grief. ⁣

Coping is what is required to move through grief, but, not just to process the most significant of losses, like losing a person, it’s also required to move through the more insidious forms of loss that we encounter in daily life, like the loss of a dream unfulfilled, the disappointment of an expectation going unmet—coping is what we do all the time, and we often do it without realizing it.⁣

And, with the reality of needing to cope comes with it the gift of choice—we can choose how to respond to what is in front of us, once we begin to notice when the opportunity presents itself—because, when we begin to notice the moments when we are asked to cope, we can see them as opportunities to create. ⁣
⁣Coping holds in it a kind of mysticism, because we can’t always anticipate when or what we will lose, or what we will grieve on a daily basis. Coping is improvisational and spontaneous, and, in the times we bottle up our feelings we withhold from ourselves our own creative potential — rather, we can strengthen our relationship to the way we cope by expressing that innately creative part of us through art.

For me, I bring these moments into my studio, choosing colors, shapes, forms, surfaces that validate and reflect those feelings inside of me. I can then choose to exaggerate them, make them playful, or I can twist and turn them into abstractions that have no meaning at all. What I’ve learned by creating art to cope is that creativity is an effective response mechanism that can transform fears and unwanted pain into invaluable pieces of art to be shared and celebrated.

Make sure to visit Lauren's website to see her work and follow her over on instagram (@laurenirmaaltman)

We shared our musings, Lauren shared hers, and we would love for you to share yours. Leave a comment below and, as always, subscribe to get our new posts right to your inbox. 


We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

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2 Comments on "Using Art to Cope with Grief"

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  1. Patricia Young  February 23, 2022 at 7:50 pm Reply

    I do draw, sketch and create a variety of my interests. I have tried to recreate my grief but I usually give up. I have a journal but have also stopped that. My hopes are to start over but I find it very difficult.

  2. Ghazala Khan (Mrs)  March 4, 2020 at 4:28 pm Reply

    I do a lot of colour sketching not drawing but colouring


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