Healing and Creativity


“At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source.”

–Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.


“He was not just a step-father,” she said.  “He was a father to me.  He never abused me.  He taught me what love is.  He meant everything to me.”

These were the words of a woman who, years ago, told me about the abuse she experienced in her family.  She said she used to think that love and abuse were synonymous.  She didn’t know differently until her stepfather came along and treated her with respect.

When her step-father died, she wanted to write something about him.  She wanted to express how much he meant to her.  She wanted to make her writing a gift in his memory.  Since she had no writing or reading skills, she asked if I would write while she dictated.

“This is a marvelous idea,” I told her as I went on to explain that we need to bring meaning to our grief experience and one of the ways we can do that is to use our creativity.

Creativity and healing are so closely linked because our creative expression allows us to share our feelings, our hopes, and our dreams.  Creativity helps us release whatever is going on inside us.  We give our wounds an “airing” so that they can breathe and heal.  “Take what’s on the inside and put it on the outside,” I often tell people.

Using our creative gifts can help us make meaning of our grief experience.  While some write prose or poetry, others design a scrapbook, a quilt, or a photo collage.  Others paint, do woodwork, sew, or plant a tree in memory of their loved one.  There are many ways to express ourselves creatively.  However we choose to be creative, we can be certain of one thing:

Creativity is healing.

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