My Uncle recently visited my art therapy studio. He told me, “Your mom would be so proud.”
She would. And it also wouldn’t exist if she was still alive.
My mom’s death was pivotal in the shaping of my career. Following her death, I wrote and illustrated my book “Grief is a Mess.” This book helped me get a job at a local charter high school. They hired me to teach a class on bookmaking. I later became their full-time art teacher and they agreed to pay for my masters education in mental health counseling and expressive art therapy.
I later graduated and opened up an art therapy private practice (you can read more about that journey here) and primarily worked with people experiencing grief.
I have since expanded my niche to additional topics (autism, religious deconstruction, and entrepreneurship) and grown my practice into something I deeply treasure. I have never had more freedom, flexibility, and a profound sense of purpose. Being an art therapist feels more like a vocation than a “job.” Every day, I get to help someone in a way that has a profound, lasting impact. It’s joyful work and I’m extremely grateful I get to do it.
I’m sure my mom, looking down from wherever she is, is very proud of me.
But if she were alive, it wouldn’t exist. It’s a strange tension to hold. Losing her was the most significant, painful event in my life. And yet, it brought me all of the beauty that currently exists.
I would never use this experience to try and make someone feel better about their grief. Like, “Don’t worry, good things will come from your loss, too.”
Never. No one wants to be “cheered up” in their grief. They want to be understood and accompanied. And no amount of “good things” will make up for the loss of the person. I would much prefer to have my mom back than my art therapy career.
And yet, I am grateful for where I am now. My private practice feels infused with my mother. She continues to be a part of my journey, even if she’s not here to experience it.
I provide art therapy for individuals navigating grief and loss.