create. heal. inspire. stephanie dyer.

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.

 

Tribute Collection

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.

 

Entitle "Faith"
Private commission
Entitled "Gone Too Soon"
Entitled "Starry Starry Night"

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.

Photo Credit ~ Wikipedia

 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.

Dylan Thomas wrote a beautiful poem for his father on his deathbed entitled ‘Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.”

Eric Clapton wrote “Tears in Heaven” after the accidental death of his young son and has spoken about how his music helped him heal.

. . . 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.

Giveaway

Stephanie is giving away one of her amazing art prints here today today. See a sampling of her work here:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BeyondWordsDesigns?ref=pr_shop

To enter:

  • 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 steph@beyondwordsdesigns.com ~ I love connecting.
 
If you are interested in my artwork, you can find prints as well as originals for purchase in my SHOP.


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Comments

  1. My favourite is ‘gone too soon’. This peice speaks to me because the red headed woman seems like me. Me with the red hair. Me with the hand over the empty belly (and mine is doubly empty with the loss of my womb the night our precious Joseph was born and me reaching for the spirit of my child, my last born, gone too soon.
    This is very moving artwork. Thankyou for the opportunity to enter. Love and light.

  2. Stephanie D says:

    My favorite is ‘His Light Shineth’

  3. Stephanie D says:

    I already follow Beyond Words Designs on FB

  4. Stephanie D says:

    I am now following Stephanie Dyer @beyondwordsdeson Twitter

  5. ‘Starry Night’ is my favorite, but they all speak to me!

  6. My favorite piece is the Private Commission.

  7. Gone Too Soon is my favorite piece in your shop! Following on FB!

  8. Amanda Monopoli says:

    I find myself intimidated by how much these amazing pieces speak to me… Starry Night, Awaiting & Embrace the most. I don’t think I could choose just one… <3

  9. Amanda Monopoli says:

    Just followed you on Facebook. Again, I love all pieces, but Starry Night, Embrace & Awaiting especially… <3

  10. Such beautiful, beautiful images to go with a heart-wrenching story. I’ve seen your artwork before, Stephanie, and as always, they take my breath away.

    My favorite, though, is probably the one in this post titled “Starry Starry Night.” I can really relate to this piece, really feel myself at the center of it. The colors are so soothing and calming, and there’s such a longing to it. It has such a dreamlike quality. I love the colors and the combination of the open, starry night sky and the awesome presence of the water. And the moon like a rose, radiating light and, for me, hope.

    Lovely. Thank you.

  11. Christine Gullage-McGraw says:

    I love them all. but fell in love with the gone to soon painting

  12. My favorite is Inspiring word art Family embrace. I love the inlusion of the man in this, and it reminds me of my husband and how I felt when pregnant, awaiting the change to a family of three. I recently lost Baby Noah on December 7. We are still family, even though he’s in heaven. I have never seen art that more beautifully reflects how this loss feels.

  13. After looking again ‘Gone Too Soon’ always speaks out to me. I’m missing her within my womb but reaching out to the sunshine where she lives now. ‘Finding Balance’ is also a favorite too.

    Thank you for sharing your pieces, Stephanie.

  14. I already follow BWD on FB.

  15. I’m now following BWD on Twitter.

  16. I love the Faith painting! that is my word for 2012 as I travel the journey of pregnancy after my losses so it is just perfect. =)

  17. I follow Stephanie on FB

  18. I follow Stephanie on Twitter too.

  19. I love “Gone too Soon”. It is me. I lost my son at 16 weeks so I wasn’t showing much yet. Some people didn’t even realize/heard that I’d lost him. Months later, I was still having people looking at my stomach and asking “When did you say you were due?”. I was induced and delivered him, after learning at our 4 month appointment that he no longer had a heartbeat. (I felt him move the afternoon before.) After 12 hours of labor, he was born still on July 21, 2011 at 2:32am. I was rolled off the maternity floor, to go home, the same day he was born. I remember sitting in the car, waiting for my husband to get everything loaded in the back, with my hand on my stomach… just crying. It took weeks for me to stop placing my hands on my belly. I was still having occasional “phantom kicks” and I kept having to remind myself that there was no baby there.

  20. “gone too soon” is by far my favorite. such beautiful work.

  21. i now follow on fb

  22. Wow… what beautiful pieces of art. Wow.

    I thik my favorite is Starry Starry Night, bu the His Light Shineth really speaks to me.

  23. I “liked” Stephanie on Facebook

  24. I am now a follower of Stephanie on Twitter

  25. Dora Goodlett says:

    honestly, I love each Beyond Words pieces! Your paintings are so moving.As I read your story I couldn’t help but cry.. I also carried my daughter to term with a fatal birth defect. She was my first daughter and I remember being so excised to find out her gender when I went for my ultrasound. To make a long story short my story is very similar to yours. The news was one of the worst days of my life! Anyhow, I would love to win one of your beautiful paintings! My self and husband would proudly display it. I know every woman who has had a loss deserves to win.. I usually don’t even try for these contest. I never took any pictures of my pregnant belly because I was shamed of my weight and had no real encouragement from family or friends because of my situation. I have a lot of regrets. Winning this painting would just mean the world to me.

  26. My favorite is “Faith”. Not only is it breathtakingly gorgeous, but it’s title is what we used for our baby Layla’s middle name – it’s the only thing we have to hold onto since losing her. What a beautiful piece of art (as well as all the other ones!)!

  27. I am also following her on Facebook

  28. Starry, Starry night is my favorite piece. When I first saw it I felt instantly connected to it, bringing tears to my eyes. xoxo

  29. I am now following Stephanie Dyer on twitter.

  30. I’m now following Beyond Words Designs on Facebook.

  31. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your beautiful, meaningful art with us Stephanie! I love your ‘bloom and grow’ piece!

  32. I follow Stephanie on FB!

  33. I hope to own my own canvas one day.

    One of my favs has always been Faith and the newest one is too!00000

  34. Wow, so many great ones it’s hard to choose. I love Faith & Sacred. Thanks for sharing your story & blessing someone with your work!

  35. I love all your art, but Starry Starry Night is my favorite. Thank you for creating what the Lord puts in your heart. Thank you for sharing your grief and healing. As you can see, so many out there resonate with you and need encouragement and understanding. Can’t wait to see what you create next.

  36. I already follow you on Twitter 😀

  37. I follow you on Facebook

  38. Julie Saunders says:

    My favorite is “Faith.” That word has taken on so much meaning to my husband and I. Five years ago when I was pregnant with our first son, my dad passed away. Faith was the last word that he spoke on this earth. At the time we did not know that we were expecting a boy, and my husband and I decided that if the baby was a girl, we would name it Faith. Fast forward four years, we are expecting our fourth child, our second son. Little did we know that the day we anticipated so much would be the day we would have to say good by to him. After losing our son, the only thing we had left was Faith. That word took on a whole new meaning. We are now expecting our fifth child, our rainbow baby. It is a girl, her name will be Faith.
    I love your painting, not just because of the title, but because to me it captures everything that someone who has lost a child could be feeling, not just the pain, but also the hope. It’s beautiful!

  39. Faith is definitely my fave of the ones shown above. I love the coloring and can just see all the heartfelt creativity in it.

  40. I have added Beyond Words designs on Facebook

  41. I am now following Stephanie Dyer / Beyond Words Designs on Twitter.

  42. I LOVE Starry Starry Night. Incredible.

  43. I follow Stephanie on Facebook…

  44. …and on Twitter!

  45. Beth Keville says:

    My favorite is gone to soon. My daughter has had 5 miscarriages and the colors in this painting remind me of the bright future that God has planned for her and our son-in-law.
    Wedon’t understand why but know that He has all these children in His hands. Beautiful work.

  46. I love the private comission

  47. I follow on FB!

  48. I love the Faith painting- the colors and shapes are beautiful!

  49. I’ve followed Stephanie on Facebook for awhile now- love her work!

  50. I follow on Twitter as well!

  51. Gone too Soon is my favourite… Love them all. Thanks for sharing.

  52. I love the Faith one as well… it’s what gets me through knowing that my Grace is ok and I will see her again… I must also say that the tribute collection is amazing… id love to own one of those as well.. continue your gift of giving the world a beautiful view of our babies…

  53. I love the Starry Starry Night, as my angels name is Stella, which means star. Really I love all your pieces, you are truly talented!

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