The Artists’
Grief Deck

How-to

Welcome to the Artists’ Grief Deck. There is no correct way to use these cards, but we have these suggestions:

  • Set aside time for yourself to go through them
  • Find or make a space for yourself
  • Look closely at the images
  • Be open to the feelings that arise
Learn More
Brown paper divided into a grid. Every other row is striped with shiny copper foil. Between those stripes, each square of the grid contains a letter printed in white forming a continuous stream of letters reading 'ASANASANASANASANA'.

Repetition and Healing

Think of something that you want to become part of you. It could be a loved one’s name, a healing word, a phrase. Say the words out loud. Let yourself fully feel them, and then write them down again...

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A photograph of a young barefoot woman's legs with a garden of dead flowers in the foreground.

Holding Vigil

This image reenacts the final weeks of my mother's life, holding vigil in her room, surrounded by condolence flowers, waiting for death to relieve her pain. Having experienced the anticipatory grief o...

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A photograph of a figurine with a round medallion-like head with eyes closed. The whole rest of the body of the figurine is swaddled in rough cloth, wrapped carefully like a small child.

A Grief Doll

This simple activity may help ease your transition. • Draw a portrait of your beloved departed • Rescue their handkerchief (or apron, or other cloth of theirs) • Make a Grief Doll and keep it un...

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A mixed media painting of a Black man's head on a metallic gold highly texture background. The man seems to have a halo of red and black lines and his mouth is also gold.

Who am I now?

The loss of an important person or a difficult life change often effects our self-definition. Roles may change. You may question who you are now. Focusing on the parts of your character that have not...

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A painting of a female face with dark hair, eyes closed, almost entirely obscured by rows of painted flowers in pink, red, and white which flow over the figure.

When Tears Won’t Come

My mother always said tears are cleansing for the soul. But sometimes the tears just won't come. Sit in a quiet place that can get wet. Wear something white. Put on music that calms you. Perhaps, ligh...

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A painted collage on a light brown fabric background. Around the left, bottom, and right sides, a pattern of white boxes with red triangles in them. The top half is filled with an array of abstract patterns, alternating a small design made of tiny yellow squares and white diamonds. Larger, in the center, is a collaged-together abstract arrangement of triangles, diamonds, and stripes, in blue, red, yellow, green, and pink. Below this form is a plant-like form with 8 yellow 'flowers', which appears to be dropping four blue leaves even further down. Arranged around the composition are other painted-collage designs, with fruit at their centers: two cherries on a stem in a yelow circle, a strawberry in a yellow red and green oval, a colorful coffee table with flowers on top, a slice of watermelon and a chair in purpose with red and lavender star-forms on its seat, and a bunch of grapes on its back.

The Importance of Routine

Losses of life interrupt the general flow of our lives. Things are not as they were, and life can feel chaotic. One way of bringing order into the chaos of loss is to establish healthy routines. Set t...

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A painting of a young light brown skinned girl holding a large basket of corn. She has a dark red dress on and the background is a starry night.

Connecting With Ancestors

Connect with an ancestor, either by genealogy or culture or choice. It may help to imagine or conjure their image, or perhaps you may just feel their warmth or light. What might you thank them for? Wh...

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An abstract painting that has a dark background with colorful details - broad orange and purple brushstrokes, blue highlights, black scribbled lines. The word "happy" is written in cursive handwriting in bright green.

Welcoming Happiness

Can you be happy at the crossroads of grief? Is it allowed? Do you feel guilty for being happy sometimes? Place your bare feet flat on Mother Earth, your hands on your heart and close your eyes. Inhal...

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A painting in bright bold colors set against a starry night sky, a face or mask of blue with pink designs on its cheeks holds its mouth open in a near perfect circle. Within the red circle of the mouth three smaller figures can be seen, from head to shoulders, one yellow, one orange, one purple. Behind the blue head, a fanstasy landscape of stripe patterned, polka dot patterned, and diamond patterns tree trunks and verticals.

Ritual of Remembrance

I didn’t know I thought about my mom everyday until I had to wake up and remind myself that she was dead. Now, I wake up and remind myself she lived. Gather on a tray: Pen, paper, candle, lighter, a...

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A painting in watercolor and ink; the top half shows a head and shoulders in black, with geometric patterns engraved like rays radiating around the head, the face cast down, all against a sky of black paint patterned with the rough texture of the paper. The bottom half of the image is a lighter gray, with the central body of the figure extending down to the legs, which are covered by a small bright green tree with black ink trunk. A small patch of bright sky-blue is visible beneath the tree on one side.

Exercising Your Grief

Exercise is an important component to staying healthy and is a natural mood-elevator. What are your favorite physical activities? How could you incorporate more movement into your daily life? Can you...

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A painting of a Black woman's bust against a field of pink flowers. She has her eyes closed and is weeping.

Welcoming Tears

Patiently wait for the tears to come. When they arrive, soften your belly and welcome them. Capture the image of your face while it is still wet and flushed. Visit this image often. Spend time observi...

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A photograph of a crude looking abstract sculpture wrapped with wax paper and twine.

The Texture of Memory

What is the moment you hold in memory when you were the most alive with your beloved? Dwell in the knowing of that aliveness. Remember the light that day, the way the air felt around you. The sounds,...

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A screenprint with watercolor of a river with five tributaries. It travels from top to bottom and the roman number 5 is written at the top.

Expressing Grief

The 5 of Water in the ECOtarot deck is pictured here. The water cards are related to emotions and the 5 cards are cards that relate to loss. This loss is something that must be passed through in order...

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A colorful cartoon painting of a daisy with a face on it. Her eyes are closed and blue lines that appear to be rain cross over the image vertically.

Acceptance

Let it rain....

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A horizontally-oriented color photograph of a large pile of ashes with burned incense sticks at the center. In the background of the image are black and white writings and drawings.

Connecting Through Rituals

Rituals symbolically connect us to the larger world and each other and those who have come before us. There is some evidence the actions in rituals may actually release endorphins, which can ease anxi...

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A very dark abstract painting oriented vertically. The grey, ghostly forms seem to drag down the frame weighting down the bottom.

Distraction From Grief

Distraction from grief is a healthy coping strategy. It is not necessary to experience grief intensely 100% of the time to move through your journey in a health manner. “Taking a break” from the g...

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A drawing of two long ladders that intersect and have their rungs entwined in the middle. One ladder is gray/pink, the other is wood and they both extend beyond the edge of the card.

Grieving the loss of control

Losing someone or something important to us brings home the fact there is much in life we cannot control. Control is something we thought we had, but ultimately there are many things in life we cannot...

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A drawing of a grid of simply drawn stick flowers. There are thirty-five in all in five rows of seven flowers.

The Bouquet

Set up a clean space at a flat work surface, and grab two things: a favorite pen or marker. a stack of blank paper. In the first attempts at this practice, it can be helpful to set a timer. Start with...

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A print of a lush jungle river flowing to the left of the image. The colors are black, mint green and hot pink.

Letting Go

Visit a river or stream and bring a flower. Place the flower in the water. As you watch the flower drift downstream, keep your eye on it for as long as you can, keeping it in view until it becomes a t...

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