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Project Meditation: Stages of Grief

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Finally being on the other side of the grief process, I’m able to fully express the experience. One can be “over it” and “move on” but still have a piece of themselves forever changed or missing. Sensitive people can still conjure those feelings as if the wound were fresh. The last seven months have been some of the hardest in my life. I had an honestly sobering encounter (a serious friendship and romantic relationship) with a human lacking empathy to such an extreme that it altered the very chemistry of my mind and my understanding of male/female relationships. I maintain so much anger and confusion and until now have had no where to place it. Here is the synopsis of those painted expressions.

  1. “Shock” This painting is best experienced when paired with the song “ freakin’ out on the interstate” by briston maroney. This is the song that I felt came from the perspective of my abuser, at a time when I so desperately sought to understand the motivation and psychology behind the violation. Many victims can recall the same feeling of empathy for their assailant. The intro riff in this song also has an angst that defined this period of my grief. The inspiration photo was taken the day after my partner committed a sex crime against me. There is something surreal about that betrayal. I’d lived the last two years knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I was safe. You can see in the eye just how lost a victim is in the aftermath. I wasn’t ready to feel the full extent of reality, I only knew how to be exactly where I was, as I was, staring into a chasm.

2. “Denial” This painting is best experienced when paired with “Rises the moon” by Liana Flores. This was a song we would frequently listen to during our nights camping under the stars. This painting is a memory. A memory that has been edited and shrouded and ripped open again. The initial pang was so surreal and anger so visceral that I would escape into the golden light of memories. Over time I took comfort in the fact that memories are all that become of people and things. Just fading moments suspended by a watchful eye. But the mind is an unreliable narrator. And each time one reflects on a coveted piece of time, frozen in the ether, it is different. It loses parts, or gains clarity. The trinket becomes distorted, rusted and cloudy. For me, the picturesque account of how things once were has given way to realism in time. At first, I recalled those starry nights with longing. Now I recollect the truth. And with that reality comes this shame of nostalgia. How could I have thought so fondly of this memory knowing what I know now? How can I live in the forest behind my eyes knowing I was never safe there? I’ve gone back to the memories over and over. Against my will, I go back tearing through the veil. Once with ache, then regret, then with fury. Now with a deep well of nothing.

3. “Despair” It is best observed when paired with the song “Romantic homicide” by d4vd. This painting was the first in my series of grief. Listening to this song, I felt overcome with a realization of hopelessness. I sat in the dark of my apartment, my face emotionless but streaming with tears. When I felt I could no longer just sit there, I started covering a canvas in chaotic strokes of thick black paint. I then recreated myself in my hopelessness: small and surrounded. A white figure floated in the black canvas but it still did not express the screaming agony and smallness within me. I added the silhouettes of lilies, as they are a common representation of death and grief. With my lilies I then sat in the abyss. That abyss that swallowed me whole once I realized that I am never safe as a woman in this world, and I never was. Anger overcame me again and the strokes of red burst from my brush. Then more tears.

4. “Acceptance” This painting is best observed when paired with the intro to the song “mayonnaise” by smashing pumpkins. The acceptance stage sounds like a relief. It is just as painful as the others. Accepting what happened, accepting that life will never be the same, accepting loss, and that you HAVE to move on. That the world moves on and no one will ever truly see what you have sustained. And just as before you have to be strong. Your memories will fade. And you have to grieve the pain itself to give way to a new life.

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