The Grieving Inner Artist

using art to heal grief

This post is part of a series on grief. My family recently lost someone suddenly, and as a result, we we were faced with shock, sadness, and disbelief. It’s my hope that as I process our experiences in grief here on the blog, I’m able to help any of you who may be faced with the loss of a loved one. Click here to access more resources on overcoming grief.  

The month of April has been filled with revelations for me. Many of them relate to love and family and death. For me, an important one relates to my inner artist.

I bet that’s not where you thought this was going, right?

My inner artist has always been an under-appreciated part of my life’s experiences. She’s been neglected. She’s been suppressed. She’s been ignored. She’s been told that she’s only as good as the stick figures she draws. She’s never thought she could create something worthy of hanging on her wall at home. Especially while grieving.

Special thanks to Painting With a Twist in Cedar Hill, TX for partnering with me on this much-needed project!

The day after my aunt died suddenly I was at a lost for words. I threw myself into helping my cousins with funeral preparations and getting my family prepared for travel. My aunt died on a Saturday, and the day after she died was a Sunday. I’m not sure what happens in your part of the world, but here in Texas, not much is happening on Sundays. My family in Mississippi couldn’t make arrangements, we didn’t have deadlines from the printer, and I didn’t know what information would even be needed for my job as the family obituary writer. Sunday left me at a loss for what to do, where to go, and how to process my grief. 

Enter my friend Cheryl. If you read this blog regularly or listen to my radio show, you know that one of my blogging partners in crime and real-life friends is Cheryl aka Mocha Mob. We’ve been friends for about 13 years now (and I know that because I measure everything by my kids’ age, and Jada was a baby when we met). Cheryl and I actually had made plans to attend a painting event at our local Painting With a Twist that Sunday afternoon. Even though we scheduled the event weeks before we knew I’d be entrenched in grief, and even though I considered cancelling based on sadness, we kept our plans and did it anyway.

Y’all. We had a blast!

2016-04-10 16.03.29

There are about 10 PWAT locations in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth area with 281 locations nationwide.

We started with a blank canvas.

We started with a blank canvas.


2016-04-10 14.20.26

The class is led by a teacher and cool girls in painting aprons who are available to refill your paint and give you tips and hints.


Our class was titled "Texas Home Sweet Home." Cheryl's a native Texan and I'm transplanted, but we're both proud of our Texan status.

Our class was titled “Texas Home Sweet Home.” Cheryl’s a native Texan and I’m transplanted, but we’re both proud of our Texan status.


Texas has been home to me for the past 21 years.


2016-04-10 15.42.58

We were instructed to paint the words “Home Sweet Home” over the state of Texas, but one of us isn’t good at following directions.


And in true Texas fashion, this is what she wrote instead.

And in true Texas fashion, this is what she wrote instead.


For two hours, I was able to enjoy myself and spend time with a friend but allow my grief to transform my creativity. In talking with Lisa, the owner of the Cedar Hill location, I discovered that she and her husband joined a PWAT family while grieving for their son, who died suddenly in a motorcycle accident. Lisa, a former school teacher,  started painting to process her own grief, and fell in love with the items she created as grieved. The official term for using art to work through grief is called art therapy. Now, when I walk by my painting on the wall in my hallway, I think of my aunt, who didn’t live in Texas, but whose death help me appreciate why I do.

2016-04-10 15.56.51

About Painting With a Twist:

Painting With a Twist is headquartered in Mandeville, Louisiana with franchise locations all over the country. They host classes and private parties, all of which can be scheduled through their website. Giving back and charitable fundraising is also important to the company as they also host Painting With a Purpose events for non-profit causes.

Have you ever attended a class or event at Painting With a Twist? Has artwork helped you process grief or any other stressful situations?

23 thoughts on “The Grieving Inner Artist

  1. I have only done paint nights for fun. but I love that there are people that use it therapeutically to help with their grief.

  2. Great job! It doesn’t matter what the end result is…your inner artist just wants to be free to play with the colors and paints and textures. Even if you don’t like what you’ve created (because that’s your inner critique speaking) it’s still so good for the soul to get creative. 🙂 Great post!

  3. This looks great! It doesn’t matter what the end result is! Your inner artist just wants to play and create. Your inner critique is the one keeping you from loving it. Enjoy the process. 🙂

  4. I have only attended one of these types of classes and it was so much fun. I am sure art helps with a lot of therapy as it lets your mind go to another place to create. Sorry for your loss.

  5. I have a friend who does art therapy for moms who’ve lost a child at birth so I KNOW how amazing and therapeutic it can be. ❤

  6. Sorry for your loss! I am happy that you used art as a way of expressing your emotions. It can be so healing.

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