"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.
At times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It's so uninteresting. Yet I want others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me." - C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.
This excerpt from one of my favorite books is the perfect depiction of grief and how it feels to experience it. When my dad passed away in 2006, I was open about my journey through grief. I wanted my experience to become the hope someone held onto through their grief. I'm thankful that I've been allowed to speak on loss and its complex layers throughout the years. When I started painting, however, I knew I needed to translate that journey into paintings. So, here I am. It's not just the grief I want to paint, but the epilogue after loss--finding happiness and being able to breathe again.
This painting is one of many to come--about the tangible experience and journey through loss. Grief is a whole-body experience that seems to consume our senses. It's a journey of facing a new reality--life becomes new again but never the same. But there is also light within the shadows of grief--glimmers of hope that give us the strength to fight for light when darkness attempts to consume our being. Within this painting, you'll find both triumph and struggle. After all, the process of grief is a delicate dance between both.
I titled this painting 'No One Ever Told Me' after a quote from my favorite writer, C.S. Lewis. The irony of grief and loss is we expect it during our lifetime, but once it hits, we become paralyzed and often don't know how to react or what to do. There's a lot about grief we aren't told because it varies so much from one person to the next. It's one of those processes you have to experience for yourself, in order to know what it's like. When I lost my dad, no one ever told me the process of grief was lifelong. Some might not think it's lifelong, but 14 years later, I still find myself missing him, just like the first day I lost him. 'No One Ever Told Me' speaks to the unexpected lessons and revelations that come up during our healing journey. It also speaks to the human heart's strength--to walk through the many unknowns of grief, sometimes on our own.
Visual symbolism hidden within the painting:
- This painting has several layers to convey the phases of grief one goes through after a loss.
- The gritty textures and patterns are purposefully imperfect to convey the truth about grief--it's not always pretty and full of many surprises.
- The splatters speak to how messy grief can be--like red wine spilled on a white carpet--it's messy and hard to clean. Even once it's cleaned, you may always see remnants of the spill left behind.
- The flakes of gold convey the goodness found within the the journey of grief. There are always good surprises that fill our soul with sunshine, even when we didn't think that was possible.
- The colors symbolize the emotional battles we face during grief--fighting against depression, anger, and sadness while trying to keep positive and see the good.
- There's also a personal nod to my dad within this painting--one small streak of purple. Purple was his favorite color. This small gesture symbolizes his continual influence on my life and who I've become (personally and as an artist).
I don't know what kind of loss you're experiencing today, but from someone who has experienced loss in many forms, I promise there is another side to the pain you might be feeling. So, whether you've lost a job, finances, friends, a loved one, a relationship, or anything else that may matter to you...I hope this painting brings a sense of hope, comfort, and encouragement.
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