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
A painting of a portion of an empty bed against a dark black backround. Crumpled pillows and sheets rendered realistically in white and gray. Sheets and pillows indicate someone once slept there.

Is it Grief or Depression?

In the early days of grieving, some depressive symptoms are certainly present and normal. However, going forward, significant depression, exhibited in such ways as an inability to experience pleasure,...

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A vertically oriented abstract collage that includes images of plants and architecture as well as large color cutouts of grays and greens.

Working With Fragments

When I gather the fragments together, nothing makes sense. Everything is scattered and haphazard. But something may catch my eye, something accidental and unexpected. A color combination, a shape I ha...

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A stylized ink drawing of two female faces, one taller and older and the other smallers, embracing with eyes closed and arms wrapped around one another. The taller woman is in a pattenred dress with pink black and white shapes. The two figures' hair is painted in flat pink and blends together into a single shapre flowing around them. The background above is curved, parallel lines with patterned hatching.

Let Others Know What You Need

It is a good idea to clearly communicate with caring friends and family what would be most helpful to you in your grief journey. They may need to be educated on what are common expressions of grief to...

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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 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 black and white drawing of a trail of circles that are shaded to look like the surface of the moon. There is a black border around the image and the words "the journey" are printed in the bottom border.

Celebrate Signs of Healing

Healing is natural in a healthy grief process. Being able to enjoy time alone, laughing at a joke or funny movie, planning pleasant activities for the future, having a renewed sense of energy and purp...

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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 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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An abstract painting oriented vertically that is made of vertical rectangular strokes of color. The lighter pastel oranges, pinks and greens at the top change to darker tones of greys, greens and blues at the bottom.

Waves of Grief

When a wave of grief strikes, fight the urge to run away. Remain on the shore and allow the wave to wash over you. Remind yourself that you won’t drown, and that the wave, like a tide, will go out a...

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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 print that shows an off-kilter forest of dead trees that appears to be wounded and are oozing black goo. The sky behind them is a deep crimson with a golden sun.

Addressing Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural part of the grief experience. For some, however, it may become problematic, interfering with daily life. What things help to decrease your anxiety? Activities such as deep-breathi...

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A colorful, roughly-brushed painting that features tree-like figures with orange and yellow leaves, and other items in gray and brown and blue that may refer to the built environment.

Tune Your Senses

Look outside a window. Take note of the neighborhood you’re in, with all your senses. Sense the familiar or unfamiliar smells that are almost barely detectable. Hear the sounds that freely move and...

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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 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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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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A watercolor painting of a circle of many colored stones with a yellow feather at the top and a blue feather at the bottom. In the center is an opal-like stone.

Gathering of Stones

A Walking Meditation Take a quiet walk toward an outdoor place you enjoy such as a park, beach, or woods. As you walk, pick up any small stones that catch your eye. Stop long enough to examine each st...

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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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A vertically oriented photograph of the sky at dusk with a migrating "V" of birds moving from right to left.

Lingering Grief

I lost my Abuela to this pandemic. It's been months, yet I still cry all the time. She raised me. As someone whose primary love language is physical touch, the pain of not being able to touch her whil...

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A black and white drawing of a person spinning LPs in a darkened room. There are many records pictured, and from many of them bubbles arise that have small drawings of memories inside.

The Power of Music

Music has always been a powerful and multifaceted tool that I have used to navigate myself through all kinds of grief and trauma. Oftentimes, we may be afraid to listen to the songs that remind us of our loved ones who have passed away, because what if the memories come back to..

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