The Art of Grieving: A New Path for Healing

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

The most powerful stories of resilience are our own.

This month, my wife, Sheila K. Collins, is releasing her newest book, The Art of Grieving: How Art and Art Making Help Us Grieve and Live Our Best Lives. This work is the culmination of her work exploring grief through her personal experiences, her work with clients, and her deep understanding and passion for the power of art, in all its forms, to heal and create new insights.

As Sheila wrote this book, I wanted to understand how art helps us heal from grief. I had an epiphany during the memorial service for a friend’s husband, who passed away unexpectedly. The church was adorned with his photographs. People shared stories as we entered; Music soon filled the sanctuary as we began, giving way to moving capella hymns sung by a few choir members. The minister read a few poetic verses and his friends and family members eulogized him with tales of his life that had us laughing and crying.

It was a vivid demonstration, to me, that we already use the power of art—imagery, music, and storytelling—as our most important and powerful tools in expressing and processing grief.

Sheila’s book takes this understanding much further by asking the question: How would our lives be if we used art in a more intentional manner and in our everyday lives to reconcile and rebuild after our losses?

Traditional views of grief often reference Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages, but her work focuses on the emotions of the dying rather than the survivors. Sheila proposes a more dynamic approach—the “Grief Spiral.” This model does not chart a linear path of recovery but rather visualizes grief as a spiral, where we will reencounter losses during our life, yet find a way to use these experiences as an opportunity for growth and transformation.

The Art of Grieving is more than an exploration of loss—it’s a guide to healing and using art to find resilience and joy in the face of grief. It illuminates the transformative power of grief, showing that while it is a universal part of the human experience, it also offers opportunities for profound personal change and rejuvenation. Through art, we craft our stories of resilience, finding ways to continue our life journeys with our losses providing a sense of hope, meaning  and renewal.

The Art of Grievingis now available for pre-release on Amazon and through your preferred booksellers.

Join us for a special event!

Please consider this your invitation to a special book release celebration for Sheila’s new work. This event will occur on Thursday, May 16, at 7 PM at the Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh. The evening is organized in collaboration with the 10/27 Healing Partnership, formed in response to the Tree of Life Synagogue tragedy.

This will not be a typical book launch. True to Sheila’s artistic energy, the event will be a “Performing the Book” experience. Featuring performances by Sheila’s group, “The Wing and a Prayer Pittsburgh Players,” and artists from the “Talk Back” Theater, promise that the night is a vibrant mix of storytelling, singing, and movement. All the arts in one night in service to healing grief.

Please join us if you are in town. You can register here.

© 2024 Richard Citrin

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