Can Music and Art Help with Grief and Loss?
Art and music therapy can calm the emotional storm caused by grief and loss. But why? Keep reading for art therapy activities that help during difficult times.
Have you ever heard the quote, "music hath charms to soothe the savage beast”? It turns out 17th-century playwright William Congreve was prophetic: music calms strong emotions — and grief certainly brings up all kinds of savage feelings, like anger, resentment, and denial.
Music unleashes our emotions, a crucial step in healing from the sorrow and pain of losing a loved one. Music therapy helps, and there’s evidence that art also has a calming effect on grief.
How Music Provides a Safe Emotional Space
Country, classical, rock, alternative, jazz, music provides a safe space to let emotions out. Rhythm invites us to move our bodies. Lyrics paint a picture in our minds. Express yourself as you wish: sing, shout, cry. The finite boundaries of a song – beginning, middle, ending – is a familiar anchor amidst the chaos of grief.
Music Connects You to Memories
Music connects you with happier memories when someone passes away after a long illness or your relationship is contentious. Remember special times with your loved one by playing their favorite music or songs that remind you of them. Maybe it’s from your wedding day or a song they loved singing in the shower. Cherish the memories and accept whatever emotions come with them.
Music Brings Your Loved Ones Together
You’re probably not mourning alone. Playing music with shared memories — remember how mom always played this song while she was cooking? — connects you with partners, siblings, children, and friends. Healing sounds can make the grief journey less lonely.
Music Helps You Prepare for What’s Ahead
Losing a loved one might also mean a loss of identity. Your role as parent, child, spouse, or sibling has shifted. Healing music gives a sense of self as you move forward without your loved one. Suddenly, familiar lyrics have new meanings.
What are the best funeral songs? Click here to learn about adding music to your loved one’s memorial
Many people like falling asleep listening to natural sounds, such as gentle raindrops or ocean waves. Our ears hear a vast range of frequencies caused by vibrations. Our brains recognize these vibrations as sounds, from booming thunder to whispers.
Specific sounds called solfeggio frequencies are reputed to help improve physical and mental health. Healing frequencies date back to ancient religious and spiritual rites. These healing sounds are soothing for meditation, prayer, or relaxation.
Listen for yourself – click here for healing frequencies
Art Therapy: As Simple As Coloring Books
Art therapy for grief doesn’t require an art background, degree, or even the ability to draw more than a stick figure. Even visiting a museum or browsing beautiful images online is a welcome break from grief.
You could also try one of these art therapy activities:
- Create a photo collage or scrapbook with favorite photos of your loved one
- Decorating a wooden box for meaningful keepsakes
- Make a memorial window box or garden with flowers, pinwheels, stones, or seashells
And here’s a simple art therapy technique that grew in popularity in the early days of Covid: coloring books. Adult coloring books are a great way to focus on the present and make your mind more peaceful. For teens and children, coloring books help them express their feelings.
See for yourself — here’s a list of free coloring pages for every age:
Free coloring pages for adults