PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Dealing With Death: Get Creative

Maybe you're not a big talker. Maybe you just don't know how to say what you're feeling.

What about drawing it? Painting it? Writing it? Even if we don't consider ourselves an "artist" of any kind, expressing ourselves creatively can be a great way to release trapped emotions, or turn them into something we can better understand. Here are just a few ideas for expressing yourself in creative ways:

Images

Make a collage: Create a "portrait" of the person who died with snapshots, pictures of things she or he enjoyed, and images that represent great times you had together.

Illustrate your time together: Make a painting, drawing, or collage that illustrates a specific memory or experience you shared with the person you lost.

Draw how you feel: Using any art supplies you want, from pencils and markers to paint, make a visual representation of the emotions that the person's death makes you feel.

Words

Keep a journal: There's no right way or wrong way to keep a journal. You just need paper, or a notebook and a comfortable pen or colored markers. You can even use the computer if you like that better! Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Write when you have uninterrupted time.
  • Use a comfortable writing tool.
  • Choose a comfortable place to write.
  • Date your entries.
  • Don't judge your writing. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, punctuation or sounding "just right." The point is to write about what's on your mind and in your heart.
  • Accept your writing and write from within. Don't be a critic.
  • Don't try to write a story or a novel.
  • Trust your heart; the words will come.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • As you begin to write, close your eyes and take a moment to get centered.
  • Begin with a deep breath.
  • If you get stuck, begin doodling and see where that takes you.

Don't know what to write first? Try one of these suggestions:

  • Write a letter to your special someone who has died.
  • Write about a special memory you shared.
  • Write about what you wish you'd done or not done.
  • Write about the things you wish you'd said or not said.
  • Write about what you miss most about your special someone.
  • Write about the details you remember about this person: How did he smell? What did her laugh sound like?
  • Write about an altar or memorial you'd like to design for your special someone.

Write a song: You don't have to be a musical genius for this one. Choose one of your favorite songs and write new lyrics to it.

Start a "wondering jar": Whenever you feel overwhelmed with questions about the death of someone you love, write them down on scraps of paper, then put them into an empty bowl or coffee can. Don't let yourself get dragged down by your "wondering"-whenever questions come up, write them down and let them go by tossing them into the jar.

Balloon release: Write everything you want to say, or all about how you feel inside, and "let go" of these feelings by tying the paper to a helium balloon-then set it free.

Remember that creativity and art don't always have to be about expressing your grief. Sometimes it feels good just to do something that you enjoy, like painting, drawing, or writing. In fact, many kids who are grieving find that taking up a new hobby, such as music or art lessons, helps a lot.

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