Saturday, November 27, 2010

(Part 8, Does Art Heal?)

Most books and online sources dealing with healing, grief, the whole process, end with 5 or 7 steps.  But I think they are leaving out something really huge...scar tissue.  Every wound has it.  Even emotional ones.  It never goes away. It's always there.  It can be good or it can be bad.  

Sometimes, you start small and build.  I flattened this spoon in my Wizard, then added some ribbon, flowers and crystals to it.

Dad had a series of heart attacks back in 1975 when he was 45 years old.  We joke and say it's because he had had 4 teenage daughters.  But at the time, it was quite serious. He went to Seattle and had 5 bypasses done....very early on, among the first in the US.  Over the next 17 years, scar tissue built up in his heart.  He went back into the hospital in Denver to have experimental surgery to try and fix the problem.  They wanted to try to remove the scar tissue that had built up in his heart and then graft healthy heart tissue into it’s place.  At that time, this was truly frontier thinking.  It didn’t work.  Dad died shortly afterwards.  

In the last 18 years, I have built up “scar tissue” in my own healing processes.

I stamped the word "HOPE" into the spoon using metal stamps from Creative Impresions

When Kerry had bypass surgery this past March, I went through the entire process of remembering my father's death all over again.   I worried that the same thing that had happened to dad might happen to Kerry.   I pre-grieved Kerry's surgery.  I wrote down all my thoughts.  I kept a journal.  And it was a good thing because after surgery....I was 100% there for Kerry.   And while our lives have changed and we no longer have our "pre-heart-surgery" life and it won't ever come back, I have been through this process enough.....I have enough scar tissue, that I know what to expect and how to deal with each of my thoughts, fears, emotions and worries.  I also know from past experience, past scars, that I will get through this, sooner or later.

a fairly simple pocket....

The more events in your life that are a loss, the more times you will go through this process, the more scar tissue you will have.  

But there's one more thing to think about!  Do you have a scar somewhere on your body?  If you stick a pinhead in the middle of it, you probably won’t feel a thing.   Scar tissue has no nerve endings.  It feels nothing.  It is completely numb.  But it is a protective covering, a shell, a bridge between what was hurt and what now is.  

and put the tag with the spoon down into the pocket - together, a perfect match!

So the therapists don't tell you about this part of the process for those who go through repeated incidences....and as you age, you certainly will.  If you live long enough, your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will all die.  Your friends move away, or pass away.  Things happen, it's all  part of life.  And grieving simply becomes part of life.

It's interesting that while writing this....just yesterday, Kerry's 91 year old Grandma Ruby passed away.  It's a huge loss for him.  She was the "good" grandma, the one everyone loved being around. But she had been in a nursing home for about 3 years.  I think the grieving took place 3 years ago when we "lost" the grandma we knew.  But also, there's been so much in our total cumulative lives....this just isn't much.  We can celebrate the life she had immediately.  We can cherish the fact that we knew her "before nursing home" and keep our fond memories of her intact.  

I think that's scar tissue.  Experiencing multiple losses, going through the healing process over and over, that's the bridge between how I would have felt back before all this experience and how I process loss now.  It's simply scarr tissue.

This journal is going to take awhile to finish as each page is going to have a different cut, be inked....

Finally.  Ah! But isn't there always a "finally"?  I was raised with a strong, fundamental,  solid belief in God and in His Son, Jesus.  I was raised with very simplistic thinking - yet extremely complex when you give it some thought.  I was taught to celebrate death because of our belief in a "next life".  And if you are taught to celebrate death, that leads to celebrating any type of loss.   I think these are the fundamentals of it all:

1.  Honor what was
2.  Celebrate what has happened
3.  Trust that God will lead you through this
4.  Believe that what is to come is even better than what was
5.  Put all your faith in your own personal salvation
6.  Never question what happens, know that there is a reason
7.  Be strong, because God has chosen you
8.  Study to show yourself approved to others
9. Never blame anyone for what happened
10.  Turn it all over to God, let go, and move on

I was never taught how to grieve.  I was never told there was a healing process.  We didn't sit around in support groups and discuss what had happened.  We had grounded faith and a strong belief that this was just part of life.  I only learned about the "healing process" after I turned 50.  And I didn't take up art until after that.

and loads of stickles applied to almost every that's work!

If you have had enough sorrow in your lifetime to fill a boat, and you have processed each event step by step....If you have been through part 7 where you have provided support, taught workshops, given lectures, journaled and scrapbooked it....then when the next event simply get over it and go on with a very quick, precise method that takes very little time.

I had a cousin once who said that she didn't think I had any emotions.  She never saw me cry or get mad or anything.  I told her I just kept it all inside of me.  But what I didn't realize at that young age was that I didn't keep it all inside of me at all.  I simply said a prayer, turned it all over to God, let go of whatever it was and got on with my life.  

and this is just the START of what the cover page will look like.  Layers upon layers.  It all takes time. Sort o how it is when you go about building scar tissue, huh?

Bottom line:  each one of us is at different stages with different events and we will do this in our own way. There is no right or wrong.  For some of us, creativity, art, music, prayer, any of it can be a part of the process to help us through a phase, to bring us out of a step on to the next step, or to simply sooth and comfort us.  

This year seems to have a craft theme of "art heals" or "creativity heals". And I had to ask the question, does art heal?   My simple answer after all does not heal.  But it can be an important part of the overall healing process.  

I hope you will go back and read Part 1 - 7 if you missed that.  Let me know if you answered the question the same way I did...and why or why not.  It is going to take me a few more days to finalize this journal, but I promise, I will post it here!  You know, if I don't have to think about the healing process, and can just play over in the right side of my brain all day long...I might have it done before you know it!  That's the great thing about being my age and being's recess all day long!!!

1 comment:

Shoshi said...

Ah yes, Jen, the scar tissue! We can look at it, and remember without pain. Jesus has scar tissue too - as the old hymn says, "With what rapture gaze we on those glorious scars." Even in His perfect heaven, those scars remain, as a constant reminder of the price He paid for our salvation, and they will remain beyond eternity. Immeasureably costly sacrifice resulting in immeasurable gain for us - that's grace! "God's Riches At Christ's Expense."