Creating a Grief Collage

Jennifer Foust, PhD, MS, LPC, Director of Clinical Services

Posted by: Jennifer Foust, PhD, MS, LPC
Director of Clinical Services
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Grief Therapy in Philadelphia: Creating a Collage to Cope with Grief

Dealing with a loss of a loved one is tough work.  Grieving involves a variety of different emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, despair, loneliness, etc. All of these emotions can be very overwhelming and at times seem unbearable.  Nobody enjoys dealing with these emotions but they are necessary.  They are a reaction to a large adjustment process: understanding and living our life without this significant person.  There are active ways that you can deal with your grief.  One of these ways is to make a collage.  People who are very creative and visual often enjoy this type of activity to cope with their grief. 

You are going to need a large piece of poster board to make your collage.  Choose any color you want.  You may want to choose your loved one’s favorite color, a color that reminds you of him or her, or even a color that feels comforting to you.  Next, gather all the pictures that you can of your loved one.  Begin to sort them in a way that feels right for you.  Some ways to sort the pictures are by age of the person, by activity, by other people that are in the photo, or any other way that makes sense to you. 
Next, consider looking through some magazines or using other items that have some meaning connected to your loved one.  For example, maybe you saved a concert or show ticket that you went to with him or her.  That may be a good thing to include.  Think as creatively as possible about things to include.  Magazines can be good way to find ideas or items that are meaningful to you.  Magazines are also very helpful if you don’t have many pictures or items to use in your collage. 

Now, what else do you want to include?  Do you want to use markers, stickers, stamps, etc.  This is your collage.  You can make it any way you want.  Don’t be afraid to use your creativity. The point of collage is not really to make a piece of artwork (although it may be something that you are really proud of and want to share with others).  The main point of making the collage is to access your grief.  Looking at pictures, thinking about memories, remembering good times: these are all ways to celebrate a person’s life and as a result to feel all of the positive and negative emotions that happen in the process.  Making your collage may not necessarily be a one-time activity.  Often, the process of collecting elements for the collage and thinking about how you are going to create it can bring up strong emotions.  If it feels like it is too painful, stop working on the collage and do something else that you find pleasurable or that can distract you for a bit.  Or, use those feelings to cry and let out some of your emotions.  Making the collage also does not need to be a solitary activity.  You may find it much more meaningful and helpful to create your collage with another person who knew your loved one or is also grieving over him or her. 

Once your collage is done what do you do with it?  Well, that is up to you.  You may choose to frame it and display it in your house.  You may want to share it with others.  Or, maybe you just want to keep it in a safe place where you can pull it out and look at it whenever you want.  Whatever you choose to do, choose what feels right for you.  This is your grieving process.  Grief is hard work.  We need to grieve in a way that helps us to come to terms with our loss and to move on to live the fulfilling lives that are loved ones would desire for us. 

Grief therapy in Philadelphia: creating a collage to cope with grief.  Still struggling? Call to schedule a grief therapy appointment in Center City Philadelphia.