How Art Therapy Taught Me To Overcome Death Of A Parent

overcoming death of parent

It’s been a few months since my father passed away. Anyone who has experienced the death of a parent knows full well how harrowing it is. It feels as though your spirit has been severed in two. When my father died, at first I didn’t believe it. His death was an accident and a shock. I denied it. Then it gradually dawned on me, over the course of a pone call with my mother, that he really was gone and would never be coming back.

That was when the grief began to set in. I felt so alone in the world, like a ship without anchor lost in a bizarre world. I drifted through the pain. At times it came pouring out of me and I wept. Grief seeped through my body, mind, and spirit like water through crevices.

Today, the wound is still open and at times I will weep. What I really need, for myself and for my family, is to be able to truly let go of those emotions. I need to allow my father to be in heaven.

This is a beautiful quote about the death of a parent.

Grieving is not easy. As a meditation teacher, I’ve had many people say to me “Well, surely you know how to cope with this sort of thing.”

I suppose that’s true, to an extent. I do know a great deal about how to cope. Meditation has helped me immensely (for a guide see my article on Meditations for grief on But there’s a certain inalienable reality: losing a parent hurts no matter who you are, no matter how well equipped you are to cope. You can’t prepare yourself for such a life altering event.

Overcoming the death of a parent is a challenge for anyone

Losing a parent is a difficult challenge. I remember being at my father’s funeral, people placing roses, the music… but to overcome the death of a parent you have to look at it in the right light.

No matter who you are, when you experience the death of a parent, or a loved one, or a friend or family member, there is pain. And that pain needs to come out.

It’s the same for people dealing with anxiety, stress, depression and many other psychological complications. There are pains, and those pains are going to stay inside you until they come out. The best thing we can do—perhaps the only thing we can do—is to help the pain come out in a healthy way.

One such way is to express pain through art therapy.

One of the modern creative holistic therapies, art therapy offers an opportunity to let pain out. When we grab a piece of paper and a paintbrush, a notepad and pen, or an instrument, and let go, we give our pain a channel through which to flow out of our bodies and minds.

You might think that’s similar to talking to someone. When we talk to others we do offer ourselves a chance to express things. But talking to others is very conscious. We rarely, if ever, genuinely let ourselves go. Most of us don’t allow our words to flow through us freely. We filter ourselves for the benefit of the other person. This impedes our expression and impedes the release of our emotions.

Art therapy, on the other hand, allows us to let go absolutely. We paint, or draw, without thinking, just letting the pencil or the paint splash out onto the page. But it’s more than paint. It’s our feelings, our fears, our thoughts, our suffering… it all comes flowing out.

This is a piece of art therapy work expressing the death of a parent.

This art therapy image helped me to release my feelings when I was trying to overcome the death of my father

Art therapy can be an immensely emotional, spiritual experience, because there simply aren’t that many times in our lives when we just let go.

Art therapy can help me to overcome the grief of losing my father, as it can help anyone to overcome the death of their parents. Sometimes, what you really need to do is just let go. Let it all out. Let those feelings, thoughts, and emotions splash onto the page. Watch them leave your mind.

A painting can be more than a painting. It can be a profound, spiritually healing experience.

Read Next

Using Meditation To Overcome Grief

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *