I’m on another crafting binge. The last time I made so many projects in one stretch was after my dad passed away. When I finally came up for air, I asked myself, “What was that?” I now realize it was my response to grief.
Besides standing still being sad, receiving comfort, and lamenting, a primary way to process grief is through what I call “life-giving activities.” The experts tell us that in times of grief, we need to nurture ourselves with good self care. While a hot shower, a fresh haircut (especially after twelve weeks), and a strenuous period of exercise do work wonders for a hurting heart, I find that creating is the most powerful and effective healant.
Life-giving activities are more than recreation and leisure or simply relaxation. While those are important too, life-giving activities truly re-create. They give refreshment and restoration. They leave the partaker energized to get back to the hard stuff, the daily grind—that task they have been avoiding. Sarita Hartz, author and coach says:
Reconnecting with the things that bring us life, and fuel our creativity is the most important and overlooked aspect of self-care … Connecting with our creativity sparks life. Find the creative activities that help you get into “flow.” Time disappears when you’re in this state.Sarita Hartz, 5 Self-Care Practices We Need During Coronavirus
For many people these activities double as their hobby but not necessarily— things like gardening, playing a sport or music, singing or dancing, creative writing or poetry, graphic design, painting or drawing, journaling, photography, hiking, reading, coloring, puzzles or crosswords.
We all need these kind of activities in our life during normal circumstances but when we are in grief, we need even more of them. For me crafting is one of my primary life-giving activities. It helps me handle stress, loss, and grief.
I think something happens such as what olympian Eric Liddell felt when he ran fast (“When I run, I feel his pleasure” from Chariots of Fire). Or maybe it’s that I’m reflecting my Creator God (Revelation 4:11) when I, in his image (Genesis 1:27), create things. Or perhaps it’s simply that I can see some concrete results that bring joy and beauty when all around me feels dark and chaotic. The cord, the needle, or the pen sits firmly in my grasp when all else is flitting away. For the duration of my crafting, I can focus on life and not death. And at the end of the process, I have someting beautiful (most of the time!) and tangible to enjoy.
My love for crafting began at the antique treadle sewing machine my parents shipped over to Papua New Guinea and which now holds plants in my living room. Then as a teen in the 70s, I latched onto macramé and was only held back by the lack of ready supplies in that foreign land.
Whenever I am tempted to brush this off as a luxury, I remember my father (a frugal missionary with seven children) spending lots of time and money building, flying, crashing, and re-building model airplanes. “A man needs a hobby,” my mom said when I complained. She was right. (But why is it that my husband’s life-giving activities always cost way more than mine?)
During this time at home I have made a bunch of greeting cards, painted rock flowers and mushrooms to decorate my garden, and revived old bread and cake recipes. And now with macramé en vogue again, I am pulling out my board and T-pins and looking for cord on Amazon and new patterns on Pinterest.
Which brings me to Pinterest. It is time for me to start my own Pinterest board with my crafts. So here they are—my way of restoring life and energy to my soul.
What gives you life? What refreshes you? What puts you in a zone where you forget all of life’s troubles? Where can you create and see new life emerge?
How can you do more of your life-giving activities during this season of grief?
Creator God, thank you for making your children creative. Thank you that creating brings life, not only in what we produce, but in our souls as well. Teach me to to balance my output with input from your Spirit. And use my creativity to not only feed my soul but to serve others as well.
For further reading and ideas: