Used with Permission www.grieftoolbox.com
Turning Loss to Legacy
The pencil drawings on this page are my interpretation and representation of the many emotional components of the bereavement journey. They will be used in my upcoming workshop called "The Faces of Grief "
In this workshop participants will be asked asked to write a sentence, paragraph or page on what each drawing represents to them on their journey. You may even have your own concept of what each drawing should be called or you have not experienced a particular grief component that is listed. Respond to what reflects your journey.
The renditions are not listed in any particular order. Everyone's journey is different, their is no one way to grieve, only your way.
Some bereaved experience anger, some do not, some feel guilt, some do not, some fortunates find peace, but yet for so many it still seems so far from their reach.
This is a work from my heart and what I have perceive working with the bereaved. I have limited the drawings to 20 portraits, there may be more but these I feel represent the major emotional componants in grief.
I encourage web viewers to write down what your gut reaction is to each drawing and verbalize what the drawings bring to mind for you.
Please send responses to my email form on contact page, or directly to:
I will post responses on this page, please indicate if you want your name and or email address posted as well.
Love and light
This powerful poem below was written By Faye McCord and used with permission, in loving memory of her son, Lane McCord (1/26/65 - 9/13/98)
She dedicates this poem to "the many faces of grief" we see in bereaved parents everywhere.
THE MANY FACES OF GRIEF
I look into your faces and what do I see?
Sadness, pain, hurt and confusion looking back at me.
Minds overwhelmed by the loss of a child -
Looking for answers amid feelings running wild.
Faces engulfed in a sea of distress -
Signaling turmoil, indecision, fear and unrest.
Tossed about on waves of hearts laid bare -
By anguish and helplessness marooned upon an island of despair.
Whipped by winds of desolation and feelings of being left behind -
Adrift on rafts with nothing but loneliness, aching hearts and tormented minds.
Crying --- crying hot tears -
Hearts open, broken, wounded, and gripped by fear.
Overwhelmed by the silent scream we feel inside -
Numbness -- frustration -- dread --
Reason escapes us - Life goes on instead.
Searching, ever searching for rescue - for a reason to live -
Purpose? Contentment? Peace? Do we have something left to give?
As I look into the mirror what do I see?
Is that my own sad face staring back at me?
When I look intently, searching for the light,
to illuminate my darkness, do I find hope in my night?
So, as we look within ourselves, what do we hope to find?
A new purpose for living - a new peace of mind.
Courage to face what life has in store
Offering help to others still drifting far from the shore.
Letting them know they are not alone in their pain,
That they will survive, and will find hope and peace again.
From Judi Altier
I have looked at the different faces of grief that you did and I can relate to most of them .I wonder if people see our real feelings that we think we are doing such a good job of hiding under the face we put on to go out in public?
Anxiety -I have felt this expression many times .
Shock -When the officers told us our son was dead I could hear my screams in that face.
Melancholy- I know that blank stare all to well in myself and others who have lost much way to soon.
Fear- I could not relate to much to this one.
Anger-the look when someone says something so dumb you just want to slap them up side the head and they think they are helping you to heal.
Denial -that is the face we put on for others and think we are acting perfectly normal and most people think so also. But inside we are dying .
Guilt -that is a big one now after almost six years of survival I am still experiencing guilt and I know in my heart of heart that no matter what I should have done or could have done would really make a bit of difference in the outcome.
Hope-the reason we get up each day hoping something good will come from our getting out of bed and that this might be the day we finally feel peace .
Peace -I have not reached that point yet .But the serene look on her face is what I strive for each day..
I just wanted you to know how much your writing mean to me you have been richly blessed with so much talent and compassion to help others through so many different venues .You take us out of the box that people want us in and tell us that we can grieve in any way and for as long as it takes .And that is what I have been doing . I just let people tell me what I should be doing and then I do what gets me through . I have come a long way in becoming my own person by doing this . Sometimes I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel and the next thing I know I am back to square on . Blessing Judi
The Many Faces of Grief
My interpretation of the drawings, with a couple of additions.
Acceptance – the ultimate stage of the grieving process that does not happen until the grief occupies a comfortable place in your psyche. Comes with time and manifests calmly.
Anger – may be directed at one’s self, people involved in the loss, or the one who has passed. Can be positive or negative, depending on how it is used. Powerful emotion that is unsustainable long term without detrimental effects on one’s health and wellbeing.
Anguish – the heart-wrenching emotion of early grief that is written on one’s face and felt with every waking moment. Brings a sense of hopelessness and inability to cope with everyday life without the constant presence of distress.
Anxiety – may manifest itself in excessive worrying about other family members, friends, and the future in general. Can lead to physical problems such as palpitations and panic attacks. May be minimised and overcome with the help of calming exercise such as yoga, especially deep breathing techniques, and complementary therapies such as homeopathy and Bach flower essences.
Apathy – the ‘couldn’t care less’ stage of grieving, that may strike at any point. Usually manifests alongside depression, and gives rise to lack of interest in appearance, home, work, others and life generally.
Comprehension – May sit alongside acceptance, but equally may never appear. Sometimes there may be a level of comprehension as to the mechanics of a loss, but there will almost always remain some aspects of not understanding ‘the reasons why’
Denial – appears most often in early grief and may be an extension of wishful thinking. Sometimes the mind protects in the early days and it is possible to believe that the loved one still exists, but he/she is ‘away’. Usually accompanies the shock of sudden passing. Well represented by a mask, as denial is the mask that is often put on every morning before facing the day.
Depression – seeing the world in monochrome, feeling apathetic, feeling worthless, useless and that there is ‘no point going on’. There’s nothing healthy about depression and it needs treatment either by conventional medicine or alternative therapies. True depression cannot be overcome by telling oneself to ‘pull yourself together and get over it’
Despair – the bleak hopelessness of a future that does not contain your loved one. A deep, pervading emotion that is nonetheless possible to overcome with a positive attitude and strength of mind.
Faith – whether conventional religious faith or more esoteric spiritual belief, faith is one of the most sustaining aspects in grieving. A belief in the afterlife, a belief in ‘signs’ sent from ‘the other side’ or answered prayers all help to uplift, sustain, nurture and enable one to cope with grief.
Fear – fear for the present, fear of the past, fear for the future. All commonplace in the grieving process, and not easily overcome. Accepting that a level of fear is always present may be helpful. Reminding oneself that losses are random rather than one having been singled out may help.
Frustration – often felt at not moving on quickly enough in the grieving process. In the early days, it is not uncommon to wish for time to pass more quickly so that the hurt is less. There is also frustration that it is impossible to change events to bring the loved one back to one’s life.
Guilt – such a common feeling in grief. Usually manifests in questioning oneself, ‘why didn’t I do …… or say …. Or help more …..’ Guilt is closely tied up with the ego that believes it could have prevented the loss; it couldn’t. Guilt can be overcome by turning negative thoughts away and focussing on the positive.
Hope – regaining hope is one of the most positive ways of dealing with grief, and ultimately it is rewarding to be able to feel this emotion again, along with pleasurable anticipation of future events. Hope is well symbolised by a candle, with a flame signifying the light of life.
Melancholy – sometimes it can be good to choose to be melancholy for a period of time. It can be helpful to take grief out of its box, examine it, feel it, breathe it, mourn with it, then put it back into its box until it is required again. It can help along the road.
Peace – Along with acceptance and comprehension, comes the blessed relief of being at peace with one’s grief. No more railing at the fates, no more questioning, just a feeling that peace washes over you and takes away some of the pain.
Shock – the shock of grief is like a physical punch to the solar plexus, that radiates out to encompass your whole being. It is like no other shock and cannot be minimised, even if loss is anticipated. May give rise to very strange manifestations of behaviour like excessive laughing and hyperactivity. Usually settles into a numbness that allows one to deal with practicalities, then gradually lessens as time passes and nature allows one to feel the stages of grief little by little.
Tears – tears can be healing as well as hurting. They can be balm to the soul, as well as an expression of sadness. They are a physical manifestation of grief that flows in a natural way that can soothe away some of the pain.
29 May 2008
Mother to James – 11 September 1985 – 28 July 2005
The 20 Faces of Grief
LONELINESS...the missing them
AGORAPHOBIA / self isolation