Sunday, June 16, 2013

Scrapping through grief

The (dash) LilyPad has an excellent blog post about something near and dear to my heart: To Remember Them. It's about scrapping about the loved ones we've lost.

It's so easy to put on the 'life is grand always' face when making pages and sharing them online. It's part of our Pinterest Pretty culture where everyone and everything is perfect. You see that reflection in all the wonderful, happy, kits that are all about the 'yay moments' in our lives. But that isn't real life. Real life is hard and messy and sad as much as it is happy, pretty and yay.

When we lost our sweet little kitten, Revan (which was pretty much because I wasn't thinking and gave him an open door out of our house), I was devastated. He was a really special cat. I can only compare it to losing a child. After an exhaustive search-- me going around daily in our town, flyers, social media, phone calls to the shelters and vets from here to Timbuktu, and even the police department--   Revan was found by my husband  dead in the middle of a road. I was not prepared for the grief that ensued.

I had to work really hard to keep my head above water for 7 months. My poor hubby had to pick up a lot of my slack because I was not myself. I had to push myself to do anything, even scrap. I just had no zest left in me.

Then I read a post at The Daily Digi about Art Journaling as therapy. I gave it a try. I had no idea it would be the break in the emotional clouds for me that I so desperately needed. I just let it all out in a way that made complete sense to me and I felt better after creating this page:

tracy martin; gltter velum; the lily pad collab:
winter wishes; 
CD Mukosky: Ink Pot; Font: Mom's typewriter

Little by little, I started creating more. I realized that I wasn't just grieving Revan, I was grieving all the changes of the past couple of years: My hubby's life altering diagnosis and surgery, the loss afterwards of our entire lifestyle, my kid growing up, and losing two beloved pets.

The Lily Pad Collab: Winter Wishes; Font The Storm

Micheline Martin: Someone to Love, Confetti Dot Alphas, Artsy Bits:
Allison Pennington: Playground Love, Decorated Polaroids;
Font DJB Digi Tara;  Kozuka Mincho Pro

I hadn't realized just how bad and how much I was grieving  until I started creating these pages. Healing came at the end of each page. The expression helped me not only process these big issues, but reconcile with them, too. Scrapping was a tool I could use to identify the grief, play with it until it looked like something meaningful then create a tangible, concrete expression of it.

As a happy by product, I was happy scrapping authentic pages instead of shallow, life is great even though I'm in so deep pain, pages. It was so cathartic to be real and be open through this art. Many of my favorite pages were created from my pain.

The big page came later, at the end of April, really. It was my page reconciling the loss of Revan. It was a heart wrenching page to create and tears were shed as I played with papers, brushes and blending modes, but when I finished the page, a 20 ton monkey was off my back. Completing the page gave me the most profound sense of peace. Revan was happy, I was free and our love is forever honored:

Just Jaimee: Painted Newspaper, Mixed Media Mix and Match Brushes,
Basic Photo Masks, Whoop-de-doo Alpha;

Fonts DJB MOUSEKATEER KIM; Rough Typewriter

There is nothing wrong with scrapping happy pages or using happy kits. We need those. Yet, there is a time and place for everything. To my fellow autism parents I always say "celebrate the small victories", which very easily can be applied to scrapping life. Yet, we also need to work through the hard stuff and not deny ourselves when we are grieving and/or depressed for whatever reason. I say scrap it all; It will provide an opportunity to assess and lick your wounds and help you heal. And it gives future generations a real feel for the life we live.

Scrapping really gave me my life back. It gave my kid his mom back, my husband regained a partner. I don't know what I would have done had I not created that first page. I owe this hobby and those who enable it an awful lot.

(If you are struggle with loss and/or depression, please know you aren't alone. There are resources available everywhere. You can start with this helpful info: HERE.) 

♥ Carrie

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