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
An abstract painting with large swaths of light and dark blues, white and gray.

Practice Strength-based Self-talk

Healthy thinking leads to healthy emotions. By listening to how you talk to yourself, you can determine whether your internal statements lead to anxiety and defeat (“I can’t do this") or encourage...

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From the left, an arrow pointing up reading 'inhale,' leading to a short arrow pointing right reading 'hold,' leading to another arrow pointing up reading 'inhale,' to another pointing right reading 'hold,' continuing in a stairstep pattern until the topmost arrow pointing right reading 'hold,' leads to a long arrow pointing all the way down reading 'exhale,' and a long arrow on the bottom pointing left reading 'hold,' making a continuous loop around the page of white.

The Power of Breath

We can calm ourselves through our breath. Use the pattern on the front of this card to guide you. Repeat 3 times or more. Notice how you feel....

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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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An abstract black and white and grey drawing that has a ghostly feeling with images of peony flowers emerging from the right side.

Connecting With the Body

I grieve not only for the losses of the present but also for what could have been. If I stay too long in my head imagining the things I won't ever have, I can lose myself in a spiral downward. When I...

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A drawing of a woman in profile. She is staring intently at the viewer while she sews up parts of her flesh that are torn apart showing her biological matter inside.

Dealing With Past Wrongs and Resentments

Anger, resentment and unforgiveness are heavy burdens to carry and, if not dealt with, can sabotage your grief journey. Writing a letter to the one who has wronged you can be incredibly healing. Take...

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A colorful drawing of an overhead image of a person in bed under the covers. They have earbuds in their ears and across their face is a banner with the words "you are still worthy even if breathing is all you could do today."

Rest

Take a nap without guilt...

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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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A mixed media artwork that has a textured background that resembles water meeting a shore. A long bottle is cutout and collaged in the lower right as if it has washed to shore.

Washed Ashore

We often ‘bottle’ up our emotions because they are just too much to deal with. We might cork them up and throw them out into the ocean hoping they will leave us forever. But without paying attenti...

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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 mixed media artwork that features an abstract background in red, white and brown and a centered altarpiece. The altarpiece background is made of shattered glass and small objects are placed on the bottom ledge of the altar.

Learning From Grief

You can’t bring back the dead, but you can learn their wisdom, passed down from generation to generation. What did you learn from your loved one? What were the gifts that you received? How might you...

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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 very realistic pencil drawing of a mountain with less detailed images of wooden poles placed at different angles in the foreground. There is a very small human figure off to the left.

Living With Loneliness

Loneliness is in integral part of grief. It is hard to accept and feel the loneliness of loss. Consider filling some of the emptiness you feel with other people and activities, such as volunteering or...

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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 simple line drawing on white, of a empty wall upon which 12 t-shirts are hung, in orange, green, gray, and white. On the far left, a figure stands on a stepladder and extends their arms up into the left-most pink t-shirt.

What is Left Behind

My beloved left this earth and left behind his belongings--his residue.

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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 photograph of a white person's hand holding a photograph of an older white woman. In the background is a large body of water.

Carry Them With You

Find or create a likeness of your lost loved one. It could be a photograph, a small sculpture, an object that belonged to the person or something else. Choose something that represents them at their b...

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A vertically oriented photograph of two older white men kissing on the mouth. They are on the side of a house with white siding and a picnic table full of food.

Be in the Sun

Go for a walk. Find a piece of sidewalk that falls under the sun’s rays. Place your feet firmly on this patch of concrete. Close your eyes and keep your hands to your sides. Breathe. Stay here for a...

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A two panel black and white illustration where both panels show multiple hands touching and massaging other hands in a cascade.

The Power of Touch

Touch another person's hand and wait until the temperature becomes consistent. There is one more thing in common between you. If you are by yourself, put your hand on a surface or an object and wait u...

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An abstract painting of a landscape that is mostly a rich cloudy sky. The bottom of the painting has swaths of bright red, blue and yellow.

Look at the Sky

Look at the sky.

Look at the sky out your window.

Look for all the variations of color and light you can see. Maybe there are clouds and they are moving...

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