Expressing Feelings of Grief through Art, Music, Dance, Theatre and Writing

It is said that expressing feelings of grief is very important as bottling it up as can make things worse.  But how do we go about expressing our grief and getting in touch with our emotions? How do we go about moving beyond grief and loss? 

Everyone finds their own ways of dealing with the loss of loved ones.  My aim has been to show a selection of these ways, which have given comfort to grieving families.  Some may help you too and give comfort at this difficult time.

Our thanks to Mitch Carmody for this comment about why expressing our grief through the arts is so helpful:

"I know from personal experience and that of others that the creative process has a healing and analgesic affect - whether it is writing, artwork, photography, music, dance, or what have you.

Being creative and having pride in accomplishment release neuro chemicals and hormones that neutralize stress hormones as well as releasing chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine and seratonin that provide us with that " feel good" feeling.

Grief engages our fight or flight response when it it senses danger. Creativity and relaxation reset that survival response and we feel relief."

Expressing Grief through Art

An artistic grief journal in remembrance of a fatherArt Notebook by Christine Haldane

I met a lady who had an amazing notebook. Instead of taking photographs, she did sketches of the beauty around her. Not just the flowers and trees but the special table settings for a dinner, children playing, animals grazing.  It was a joy to see.

Drawing was her skill and she had used this talent to add special sketches after her dear father died.  It was a wonderful tribute to him and the things he treasured.  A montage of his life in her notebook.

Grief journal in sketches

It was also a way of keeping and cherishing messages and memories of his funeral. 

It seemed to be a wonderful way to show how much she cared and it gave her comfort expressing her feelings of grief in this way. 

Poems and eulogies illustrated

Expressing Grief through Music

A major part of our lives from early school or even before is hearing songs or singing along.  You might have experienced singing in church or school services - perhaps you learnt a musical instrument. Listening to favorite music whether jazz or opera can be very therapeutic and help to get you in touch with what you are feeling.  Continue to enjoy your special music as much as you can.  Yes, you will be upset sometimes when a loved one’s favourite song is played, but that too is a part of the healing process.

After an old friend lost his wife and partner of many years he started to play his piano again, the first time for many years and he played for hours each day.  He told me it was a huge comfort and he played pieces which suited his mood of the day.  He found it released all his stresses.  If you are lucky enough to play an instrument then this is good therapy.

Other friends and myself have joined a singing for fun choir, there is something so emotionally uplifting about having a good sing and the lady who runs the choir is funny so we get lots of laughs too.

One of my friends lost her daughter, another her husband and we all agree that the therapeutic benefits of singing along are huge and impossible to measure.  To be able to relax, sing and laugh along is a big step along this pathway of grief.  Check out Sing Australia for a group near you.  Or ask in your local library or online. 

Singing in Choir, Credit: Manly DailySinging in Choir - Photo by the Manly Daily

Expressing Grief through Dance

Other friends have told me that going back to dance classes or tap dance for fun has been a turning point for them. They always loved dancing when younger and as well as the exercise they have made new friends.  Others are enjoying afternoon ballroom dances, many community centres hold these events and there are always partners around too.

If you were a partnership for many years it may be difficult to pluck up the courage to join in, so get a lady friend to go with you.  Go on try it, you will know which kind of dance suits you best.

Bengi Dancing by Bryony WebsterBengi Dancing by Bryony Webster

Expressing Grief through Theatre

We all love going to plays or shows and one of my friends got involved in amateur dramatics after the loss of her dear husband.  Sometimes she has a part, other times she does the lights or just helps with costumes. They always need volunteers and it is an excellent way to make new friends, and to get involved with your local community.

Expressing Grief through Writing

Many people keep diaries and an account of each day’s events and how they are feeling.  It is a good way to relieve stress.  It can get rid of lots of negative thoughts too.  Reading back over the diaries later can give you guidance on your progress along the pathways of your grief.

A friend told me that after she lost her husband she wrote him a letter every night for weeks. It was her way of keeping contact with him and discussing her day which was a comfort as she lived alone.  Read more about writing through your grief. 

Many books are written after the loss of a child, spouse or pet.  These are not only a comfort for the writer but for readers too.  Read our recommendations for books on grief.  

When you feel able re-read and respond to the friends and family who sent you messages of condolence.  Tell them what a comfort it was at the time, let them know how you are coping even if it is to say not very well. People like to know if you are having difficulties and may invite you to coffee or supper. Sharing sad times can help.

Related Pages: 

Grief Poetry and Art Books

Poems about Grief

How to Write a Grief Journal

> > Expressing Feelings of Grief

Sales from our pages result in a small commission to us which helps us to continue our work supporting the grieving.  

Memorial Magnolia Tree

The Magnolia is one of the earth's oldest plants, with a spectacular flower which dates back 95 million years.  What a beautiful specimen to commemorate a life. 

These trees are grown by the foremost magnolia nursery in the country and they will send a variety most suited to the recipient's climate. 

The flowers in spring will bring joy to the bereaved and help to heal their heart.

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