For many artists, their most prolific periods are the result of episodes involving extreme emotion. The pain associated with tragedy and loss is arguably the most acute. Following the events of 9-11, for example, artists all of the world responded in a manner most instinctive to them – they created.
Of late, I find myself in the midst of a season of loss. A good friend has battled oral cancer for the past ten months and, about a month ago, went into hospice care as all options for fighting the disease were depleted. Two days ago, she ended her fight. She was 33 years old, a remarkable and wonderful spirit, wife and the mother of two boys. I also recently learned of the passing of the mother of my childhood best friend. For the past fifteen years she has suffered from Pick’s disease, a particularly cruel form of dementia. Her death was both a relief and a kick in the stomach.
I find, when I’m mourning, that I retreat into art. Whether it is the creation or the consumption, art is a form of catharsis. Sometimes it’s a song. Sometimes a poem. Perhaps a movie. The medium isn’t so important as the fact that it provides a means to process my grief.
For the sake of conversation, I wanted to share examples of a few works that have had particular impact on me in the past.
- Beauty Will Rise – Steven Curtis Chapman: An outstanding album, recorded in the wake of the tragic loss of Chapman’s daughter, Maria. It’s stark, raw, and honest.
- “You Hold Me Now” – Hillsong: Inspired by the description of heaven in Revelations 21, I’ve retreated to this song a number of times of late, dwelling on the hope from that vision of a place with no weeping and no pain for my loved ones as they celebrate with our Savior.
- “Funeral Blues” – W.H. Auden: Probably best known from its reading in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral, this is a remarkable poem that puts words to the ache that accompanies deep sorrow.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. I could probably go on for days listing different works that in some way have been important to me. I’m sure there are some of your own that you would add to this list.
In fact, at Frequency would love to hear from you to understand some different works of art that have impacted you in a similar season. Also, tell us how the creation of art helps with your processing. Is it some of your best work? Is it something that you share or is it simply a device used to work through your loss? Let us know in the comments.