The Picasso Stage of Grief
By: Mandy B. Anderson
“Girls…I am now entering the Picasso stage of grief. Turning an old purple frame into a blue one.”
I sent this text message to my besties at 10:33 pm on a pivotal Tuesday night. While staring at the decorations on my bedroom wall, I realized something. I hated the purple color of one of the frames. Never mind the fact that it didn’t go with my buttercup yellow walls (thank you Lord that I’ll be moving on to tauper walls soon and I can kiss the buttercup yellow days goodbye!) It was an ugly purple no matter what. It had to go.
The problem was that there was a picture of Ajah B. in it. I know, I know, you might be thinking, “Well, Mandy, just take the picture out and get a different frame!” If only it were that easy…
You see, this frame was designed by yours truly during her last Picasso Stage of Grief in 2012. It was a DIY Pinterest frame and that meant that I didn’t just paint a frame and put a photo in it. Oh no. I made the frame out of a piece of wood and glued another piece of wood to it (for color and dimension of course) and then glued the photo to the whole thing! Guys – this was a diehard Pinterest project!
And it was purple.
And now I’m done with the purple.
So I decided to paint it. I’m not completely convinced that I’m done with this masterpiece yet, but I can tell you that right now it’s an abstract masterpiece of teal blue, white, and black and the Ajah B. photo is intact so now all is well.
None of this is important though; nor does it apply to you in any way shape or form. However, the lesson I learned about myself that night could very well be insightful for you.
Experts say that there are up to seven stages of grief. They include some form of the following: denial, guilt, anger, depression, the “upward turn”, working through it, and finally acceptance and hope. Looking at my own history, I can attest that this is correct. Only…mine look a little more like this:
1. Guttural Crying
This is the stage of grief where I literally cry to the point of shaking and screaming and I find myself on the floor unable to pull myself together. It happened in 2010 when we had the fire. It happened in 2012 when I was going through depression and grieving a miscarriage. It happened just three months ago when we said goodbye to our furbaby, Ajah B. This stage is ugly. It is intense. It is also very healing. Tears are always healing and they demand to be shed.
The exhaustion stage makes sense, really. Any time we stuff our emotions, we are bound to be affected physically. When I enter the exhaustion stage, it is usually because I’m just trying to survive and I’ve turned myself on autopilot. I stuff the guilt. I stuff the anger. I stuff the denial. I push myself to adult, but avoiding all the feels is just plain…exhausting. No wonder it leads to depression.
3. Depression and Silence toward God.
This is the stage that always seems to surprise me. I’m a positive person by nature, so it makes no sense to me that I would experience depression – ever. But I have. And I do from time to time, especially when grieving. And that depression becomes most evident to me when I realize that I have been silent toward God. Oh, I still talk to Him during this stage. But I avoid going deep. Instead of reading His Word or being inspired by a personal growth book, I dive into the pretend world of novels and camp out there until I’ve finished at least seven of them.
And then one day I realize…I’ve been depressed and silent toward God and I don’t like it. This sadness isn’t me!!!
Enter the Picasso Stage.
4. The Picasso Stage
This is the stage where my creativity breaks free and the only way to express myself is to paint! I don’t know why. I really am not a painter. I’m a writer! But when I’m grieving, it’s hard to write words that matter. So instead…I paint.
While I’m painting…my soul sings. I get lost in the colors. I get wrapped up in the crafts. I DIY all the things and then hang them on my walls as proof that the grief is leaving! The Picasso Stage is proof to me that the sun will shine again!
Just last week, I reached this stage. It felt good. It felt insightful. It felt a bit bitter-sweet, but it also felt hopeful. Also…the purple had to go!!!
5. The Sun Shines Again and I Rise Up
When I reach this stage of grieving, I’m a new person. By this stage, I can see God at work in my life and through the sadness. Yes, I still miss that which was lost whether it was a loved one or a season of life. However, I see it all through a different lens and I can appreciate the memories much more.
Over the years, I have learned that there is a great freedom in admitting where you are in life. About a month ago I admitted that I had been experiencing some depression from this season of grief. That confession – to both myself and those closest to me – helped me see my options. It helped me realize that I’m not powerless when life happens to me. Eventually that confession led me to this Picasso Stage of Grief and I am happy to be here, in this stage. Yes, some days my heart still hurts and I miss my fur-baby. The stages of grief don’t stop that. However, when I face the stages of grief with courage and persistence, I grow stronger through them.
What about you?
Have you been grieving a loved one or a season in your own life? Are you currently going through a season that will lead to grieving? If so, I want to encourage you today to give yourself the grace to grow through all the stages of grief. Take good notes (a.k.a. journal) and let yourself fully process what your heart, mind, and emotions are going through. Share your experience with a few close friends, a life coach, or a counselor if need be. Carve out some time for YOU so you can become beautifully whole through this whole experience.
It’s quite possible that you have your own Picasso Stage of grief. When you get there…allow yourself to paint to your heart’s content!