Loss is loss, and it doesn’t exactly matter what form it takes. And even though I’m surviving the loss of my romantic relationship, just two months after he broke up with me, I’m still grieving hard core. And for whatever reason, I have been finding that making beautiful art about the death of my mother is really helping. Perhaps the sadness I’m feeling about losing my ex is bringing up unchecked emotions about the loss of my mother. Or, perhaps I just need a new way to grieve the loss of Mike, and making loss-related art about my mother is helping move those emotions along.
MAKING BEAUTIFUL ART
There’s something transformative about taking our darkest feelings, and turning them into something beautiful. If I took those feelings, and just expressed ugly gunk on a page, I don’t believe I would feel the same kind of healing. Making something beautiful out of something that feels terrible, is what has always given me such hope. I think that is why art exists in the world.
I share more about this in my article, “4 Ways To Create Meaningful Art.”
LOVE IS WEIRD
I absolutely love this line in Hunger Games: Catching Fire. She’s so right, and it’s so true.
I never really cried when my mother passed away. I burst into sobbing tears once, a week before she passed. Because my sister and I were visiting her, and I could tell it was the end. The impatient aid was also force-feeding her, even though my mother was trying her best to eat. But she had liver cancer and zero appetite. So, I asked the aid to leave, and instead gently fed her, at her speed. However, she began vomiting up her food, and my twin sister came instantly to the rescue. She knows I’m not very good with bodily function messes. I then retreated to the bathroom and weeped hysterically over the sadness of it all. And those were the only tears I shed, initially.
I cried for a moment when I got the phone call that she had passed. I was on a subway train headed to work, early in the morning, five days before Christmas. And I grabbed my things (I had baked goods and gifts for my co-workers), and rushed off the train at the stop that was not mine. I believe I whimpered for a moment on the platform. Then, I switched trains and headed straight back home.
And I randomly welled up when we returned to her nursing home to gather her things. I wasn’t emotional for the whole morning. But, for some reason, when one of the aids who was always kind to my mother, apologized to us for our loss, my eyes burned with bittersweetness.
I didn’t cry for a long time after that. Not when we were picking out her urn. And not when I was standing next to her dead body, saying good-bye. No, the next time I cried about her, was shortly after I began dating Mike. We were playing Scrabble and an Elton John song came on. This reminded me of my mother, and I burst into tears. And as he held me, I remember thinking how amazingly natural his arms felt around me.
Mom Haiku 2, mixed media on paper, 2022, image and words dimensions 3 ½” x s 2 ½”, paper dimensions 12” x 9” © Libby Saylor
I’ve been making beautiful art about my mother since college. This was during a time when I first learned how to channel my emotions into my creativity. And once I discovered this ability, I just had so much to explore, and heal, and process.
Here are the first works of art I made about my mother in college, when she was alive.
Now, making art about her doesn’t exactly have the same sting that it used to have. The art-making actually stung much more when she was alive. Because when she was alive, she was still wreaking a bit of havoc in my life. Today, four years after her passing, the emotions are so much more subtle. If I’m being honest, they’re actually barely there, unless I actively tap into them. And losing Mike, and having my broken heart split wide open, I believe has unearthed deeper grief-related emotions about my mother.
At the same time, I can’t help but acknowledge the coincidental timing of it all. I did make beautiful art about my mother, right after she passed as well. These works of art are called Death Collages, and they were a fantastic tool to get up all of the initial grief gunk. However, I haven’t made any art about my mother since then. Until now, just after experiencing the greatest romantic heartbreak of my life.
As I said, er, as Johanna Mason from the Hunger Games said, love is weird. And grief is even weirder.
Mom Haiku 6, mixed media on paper, 2022, image and words dimensions 4 ½” x 2” paper dimensions 12” x 9” © Libby Saylor
I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to bring myself to make art about Mike. Perhaps it’s too fresh. Or perhaps, the pain actually doesn’t run as deep as my mother-related pain. Either way, my mother has always been my muse. And making beautiful art about her has always been my way. I must thank her for being so inspirational. And I hope you enjoy viewing this work, as much as I have enjoyed making it!
Mom Haiku 5, mixed media on paper, 2022, image and words dimensions 3 ½” x 2 ½” paper dimensions 12” x 9” © Libby Saylor
Mom Haiku 11, mixed media on paper, 2022, image and words dimensions 2 ½” x 2 ½” paper dimensions 12” x 9”
To view this entire body of work, you can visit my art website at https://www.libbysaylor.com/mom-haikus.html.
THANK YOU FOR READING/VIEWING!
How do you process your grief? The energy and feelings have to go somewhere, so where do you place them? Have you experienced a recent loss? If so, I’m so sorry! And what are you doing to take care of your dear self? Much love to you! xo
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Featured photo, Mom Haiku 3, mixed media on paper, 2022, image and words dimensions 2 ½” x 2 ½”, paper dimensions 12” x 9” © Libby Saylor
Love is weird gif obtained here