Today hear the story of how Stephanie from Beyond Words Designs used art and painting on her healing journey. I have one of Stephanie’s gorgeous canvases hanging prominently on display in my office, and it’s a beautiful reminder that our daughter was real and she was here even if only a short time. ~Beryl
The Dr. said “Your baby is very sick . . . ”
As I lay there with my belly exposed and the warm gel turning cold, a feeling of total violation swept over me. “Wait, we are supposed to be here to see if I am carrying twins because I am so big already! There has to be some mistake. Please tell me that this is a mistake!”
The joyful tickle of waiting to hear “TWINS” quickly turned into an icy dread . . . a stone in my stomach. In a space of a few seconds, my life had turned upside down.
For the next 16 weeks of my pregnancy, I faced the nightmare of planning Amelia’s funeral at the same time as I planned her birth. I was crazed all wrapped up in a functioning facade. How can I survive this . . . HOW!?
Like a boiling tea kettle, the pressure built each day. I was a pregnant mother of three very active children who was now overshadowed by a terrible grief. I knew what was coming. Amelia’s little body would not be able to survive without mine. I had to anticipate things that no parent should ever have to deal with.
I was obsessed with the idea that Amelia’s name be spoken aloud long after her death. That her life, no matter how short, not be forgotten. So, I decided to do everything that I could to create tangible memories of her for my family.
Art became my distraction, my sole purpose in life, my survival mechanism. My house and the job of keeping it didn’t seem nearly as important as using the time we had left with Amelia. It was as simple as that. I was given time and I threw myself into my role as Amelia’s memory maker. I painted, I wrote, I created during my pregnancy and after her birth. It gave me hope and helped me remember that I was still alive and that I had a purpose ~ a reason to keep going.
My beautiful pregnant belly, full and round, was the only place that Amelia was safe. I found such irony in this. I knew that I needed a way to celebrate my journey and pregnancy with Amelia that photographic images may not be able to capture. My art seemed to perfectly represent what I was trying to do. To create beauty from pain and to have a lasting and meaningful image that represented my journey with Amelia, my grief, and of babyloss. So, of course, I began to paint exactly what I felt.
Images of pregnant woman who appear full of life reaching out to hold the spirit of the baby that has left her became my subject matter. The mother’s pain and anguish kept turning into something sacred, beautiful and precious in each piece. I found healing in painting these mothers. Each painting helped me see that nurturing Amelia through my own devastation was mothering, plain and simple.
Painting through my grief was like a rebirth for me. So much raw emotion was not easily contained and needed a place to be vented. It was cathartic and healing in ways that I could not imagine. I needed a release that no amount of tears could touch. Artistic expression allowed me to get to that place that hurt the most and explore it within the safe confines of canvas and acrylic. The creative process bore witness to the trans-formative power of my grief. Everything that I was, all I believed and held onto was altered by my grief ~ no part of me was unaffected.
Creating also became part of an outreach to help other baby loss parents. When I became aware of the babyloss community, I was overwhelmed by the amazing and lovely ways that so many mothers (and fathers) found to create memories, honor their children’s lives and help others. Even in the early moments of my journey with Amelia, I craved being a part of a community, to know that I wasn’t alone. I wanted to find a place where I could make a difference for others in some small way. And sharing my art ~ opening up myself to others in this intimate way has also been very healing.
I know that I am not alone in this urge to create through my grief. People throughout history have used grief and creativity as a catalyst for healing, resulting in breath taking beauty being born through the darkest moments. I want to share a few creative expressions of grief. Some of which you may be familiar with. . .
The Taj Mahal is a not simply a beautiful building, but a mausoleum erected a grief-stricken emperor, for his third wife who died during childbirth ~ his monument to love.
Claude Monet painted his grief. The love of his life, his muse, wife and mother of his children ~ Camille Doncieux was on her deathbed at the young age of thirty-two.
. . . And the list goes on.
I invite you to give yourself permission to explore your grief in creative ways. You may be surprised at the result. Create something, and odds are that it will speak to someones heart. Your creativity could result in something new and unexpected . . . connecting you to your child in a beautiful way.
Stephanie is giving away one of her amazing art prints here today today. See a sampling of her work here:
- Leave a comment on this post: Which Beyond Words Designs piece is your favorite?
- You can gain additional entries by following Stephanie on facebook and/ or twitter ~ be sure to leave a separate comment for each one.
The contest closes January 12th and a winner will be announced January 13th on the facebook page!
—-I blog at Beyond Words Designs and share my my crazy life, my family, my art and grief ~ because it is all connected and part of me. Or you can contact me and just say “HI” at firstname.lastname@example.org ~ I love connecting. If you are interested in my artwork, you can find prints as well as originals for purchase in my SHOP.