Coping with Grief through Three Brave Stars
***UPDATE: Pre-order Robyn’s upcoming children’s book, Three Brave Stars, here.
No one prepares you for the grief that follows the loss of a parent.
It blindsides you even when you watch them struggle and fight for months, knowing their prognosis is dreadful. It is as if you are constantly bobbing in and out of the water. One minute you’re breathing and swimming; the next minute, you are drowning and out of air. You continue to do that, swimming and then drowning- repeatedly.
In 2012, I lost my father to brain cancer, and I still find it hard to breathe.
I’ve always been an artist. I’ve always immersed myself in my art, creating when I’m happy and sad. But oddly, after my father passed, I did not incline to create in the way I had always done before.
Instead, I began writing.
Truthfully, I started writing even before he passed. I journaled what it was like being in the hospital day after day and processed my thoughts through a never-ending word document meant only for me to see. I screamed through the words I typed, releasing so much anger and so much sadness.
As surprising as it was for me, I was still writing after he passed.
In retrospect, I had started that journey before the loss took hold of me.
I began writing what I described as a children’s book, a way for others to understand and process the idea of losing someone they hold dear. I cried almost every time I sat down to type and then again every time I re-read the story back to myself. What I found was the more I wrote, the more I read, and the more I cried, the better I felt.
As a therapist, I had these tools within me, but I wasn’t aware of how desperately I needed these tools to get myself through my moments as someone going through it.
I continued writing and thought to myself, “How great would it be to publish this?” But I never took it past looking into self-publishing, which came and went as an idea quickly in my mind. Then, just as the fates love to do, a chance encounter changed all of that. A connection I never knew I had shifted my thought of, “maybe I can do this” into, “hell yes, I can do this.”
And fairly quickly, that thought changed to, “I want to do this for others, not just myself.”
I saw my story as less of a cathartic process for myself and more to help others; other children and other families process their grief through a seemingly benign story about love and selflessness. Fairy tales often give children the happy ending they are hoping for, but my idea was that while the ending is not always happy, we can still find our happiness and hold on to our beliefs to get through the sadness.
My writing has transformed through this process of storytelling. I see many projects on the horizon that have an underlying way of helping children and families.
I now view writing as part of my self-care; the important time I devote myself to work through obstacles is creating mindfulness and relaxation.
I’ve expanded my artistic pallet, and I know both my writing and myself are in good hands with Our Galaxy. They walk with me, never questioning my pace, never undermining my ideas. They support me, believe in me, and, most importantly, see the same potential that I saw from the first moment I started this.
As I was drifting in and out of those rough waters, swimming and drowning on constant repeat, Our Galaxy threw me a life float.
Robyn Spodek-Schindler is the owner of Paint the Stars Art Therapy, LLC, located in New Jersey. She has owned and ran this practice since 2011 as a Licensed Creative Art Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Art Therapist, and National Certified Counselor. Read more about her here.
Visit Robyn’s website for more information about her Art Therapy Practices.
Read more about Robyn’s children’s book, Three Brave Stars, here.