Healing With Art And Style

April 22nd, 2013


A week ago Sunday took me to the Wynkoop Brewing Company to an art exhibit by Lindy Lyman HERE.  Flourishing Forth, The Colorado Years 1974-2013 is a retrospective of her work in painting, mixed media and sculputre. I was informed of this colorful and uplifting exhibition by Carol Markel, the remarkable blogger, milliner and artist of Femme et Fleur HERE.  Lindy was a student of Carol’s husband Richard Cramer at Elmira College, graduating in the class of 1967.

However, as the week unfolded, I was overcome by an unexpected force that grabbed me with a now unfamiliar strength that was surprising and powerful.  Anniversary dates are known to be difficult, but somehow I felt that I had everything under control and that by keeping busy, I would avoid the painful memories of Aprils past.  After all, it’s been two years since Nelson’s death, and shouldn’t I be immune from intensity by now?  Immobilization is not my favorite place to be, but that’s where I found myself intermittently over the past week leading up to April 20th.  I felt as though I was sinking in quicksand and the only part of myself above the ground were my hands grasping to find something to hang unto. But really, what I needed to find was something internal to pull me up and out.  So I sat with the stillness, leaden.

A quiet desperation took over my days, which frightened me with its relentless weight.  So off to yoga I went, hoping to soothe myself or at least find reprieve from the grasp of unwanted emptiness and the feeling of being lost.  Lost without a path ahead.  Was this a fork in the road or was I taking a step back into the depths of the abyss?  Loss can only be digested in small servings.  Otherwise we would die from the shock of it.  I think about those in Boston, and other parts of the world, who are devastated and beginning their journey through the wilderness of grief, and I mourn for them.  I weep for them.

I felt wooden and unprotected.  A tree with no bark, exposed to the elements, the cold wind blowing in from the north that assaulted the fresh and newly formed blossoms ready to open to the world.  Were my roots deep enough to hold me in place during the storm that was not predicted; the weatherwoman within had been caught off guard.  Something more to let go of.

As often happens when I’m looking for an answer, through the miracle of google, I found Pat Betram’s blog HERE, and a blanket of comforting relief changed the tone of the week and offered me self acceptance.  Her words resonated with the confusion that I was attempting to deny, but I now knew would be more helpful to radically embrace.  The other amazing fact is that Pat is from Colorado, she is an excellent writer, and I have found a new blog to follow.


Now that the anniversary has passed, I reflect back on how my week began with art, meeting new and interesting people, and the rich beauty that entered my life on a Sunday afternoon.  I can go back to that place in my thoughts, after another passage through darkness. I can feel that those blossoms opening up to the world have not frozen.  I have been changed from loving and having been loved deeply, and that is what brings me back every time I descend into feelings of hopelessness and longing.

I often think about how I launched my blog under the umbrella of style and and the composition of outfits, and how this has helped me live out loud with caregiving, death, grieving and transformation.  I am so grateful that have I found all of you, because I have felt so much support and caring from all who read and comment on SC.  Perhaps those who blog about style and aging, or are interested in this topic no matter their age or gender, embody the characteristics of compassion and empathy.  Style truly does heal, and I couldn’t have found a more perfect crowd to hang out with, no matter the circumstances of my life. You continue to be a lifeline and I thank you from the bottom of my Style Crone heart.

Black/red fabric hat – Britgitte NYC, black/white striped jacket – consignment store in Florida, vintage red fabric gloves- estate sale, all on black background.

I’m linking up late to the party at Patti’s Visible Monday HERE at Not Dead Yet Style, which has become a meeting place for all who want to proclaim visibility.

29 Responses to “Healing With Art And Style”

  1. Shelley

    Oh Judith, I am so sorry that you were gripped by the claws of grief, and thrust into that dark place of emptiness and loss. You describe the emotional place you found yourself in so poetically, even though it was a very dark, paralyzing place. Your strength and resillience continues to inspire me. Creativity is a healing tool, and every time you put together one of your marvelous outfits and show it to us, you are using that tool. Art, music, friends, a delicious meal shared, a beautiful outfit – they are the things that keep us going.

    I am so grateful for the friendship, support, and inspiration I have found through blogging, and I am so glad that you are part of that.


  2. Vix

    I’m so sorry to hear that you were in a dark place but delighted that you’ve channelled your grief into creativity. You look beautiful. xxx

  3. Vix

    I’m so sorry to hear that you were in a dark place but delighted that you’ve channelled your grief into creativity. You look beautiful. xxx

  4. Greetje Kamminga

    This is bound to happen more often. Your love was so deep and the wound still so fresh, there will be relapses. It would be strange if the road ahead was one without falling down once in a while. But it won’t be fun to be in such a lonely, longing place, I am sure.
    So good you have found a way out. Again. You are such a strong woman. Don’t you think Nelson would be proud of you? How you manage?
    As far as your outfit goes: lovely as always. Quite a coincidence that I am wearing a very very similar jacket as I am typing this. It was like looking in the mirror when I went to your blog. Apart from the hat, that is. LOL

  5. PinkCheetahVintage

    It is so so hard and I think it is normal to still be overwhelmed with grief from losing someone you love after 2 years. I know it’s different, but I lost my father 2 and half years ago and I still cry at least once a week about it.
    So great that finding Pat and her blog is helping.

  6. Jea.n

    I felt you this past week and I’m stunned with your description of the indescribable. However I felt certain I would see you this week, like the Phoenix, in beautiful plumage. Here you are. Your grapic outfit is stunning, strong, and elegant. Yes, like you.

    Love you. Please give Camille a hug for me. Xxoo

  7. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    Sorry to hear of your dark days, SC. And I’m so moved by your writing about it. Pat’s blog is wonderful, thank you for the introduction! And for sharing with Visible Monday. You’re always an honored guest.

  8. Gabriala Brown

    “Loss can only be digested in small servings. Otherwise we would die from the shock of it.” – The Style Crone

    What a quote. I will remember this one forever.

  9. SizzleandZoom

    I grieved for years when I lost a loved one(he died tragically young). It was usually a song I
    would hear that would throw me back to grief and tears. I moved on eventually-one foot in front of the other and found a new love. I have been with him almost 30 years. It doesn’t seem possible it’s been that long. It feels like yesterday that I met my new love.

  10. Pat Bertram

    I love that style has become your metaphor for life, and that style has helped you — and continues to help you — through such terrible times. Although we who have lost our mates often seem to disappear from the world (at least the coupled world), we are very alive and present to each other. I am honored to have made your acquaintance.

  11. Curtise

    Judith, the fact that you can write such a breathtakingly sad and poignant yet honest description of your emotional experience is quite astonishing. I am sorry you felt so powerfully sad and alone, and I am glad that you found a way out of the fog. Two years doesn’t seem so long to me, not in the context of a life’s love. Loss doesn’t ever quite let go its grip, I think. Being able to allow two states to co-exist – the sense of missing and grief alongside the fact of going on with life and having much to enjoy in it – must be a difficult balancing act to achieve, but I believe that’s how it goes. It is possible to be both happy and sad, content and regretful, forward-looking yet past-yearning.
    Art, style, creativity, friends, reflecting and writing, reading the thoughts of others who have also experienced profound loss and grief – all these do help, I’m sure. xxxxx

  12. Emalina

    These are such moving and heartfelt words dear Judith. As a recent blogging friend I know I missed all that you went through with the passing of your beloved Nelson, but your pain and the on going grief is palpable, and more than that, it is so very understandable.

    I’m a psychotherapist myself (but don’t mention that on my blog if you don’t mind as I write under a pseudonym to protect my professional identity) and in my experience helping people work through bereavement I have to say that 2 years is still a really short time for you to come to terms with what you went through. You must still miss him enormously, and with him comes that sense of vulnerability and stuckness. Be kind to yourself and let yourself grieve when those waves of sadness and loss come upon you. And do let me know if you ever want any book recommendations/ therapeutic ideas about how to cope with the sadness.
    Just by letting yourself feel whatever you feel you are doing all you can to ride these feelings out and slowly, as you have found, they mostly tend to diminish with time. But they never truly go, and that is a testament to the love that you and Nelson had together, it’s a question of riding the waves and knowing you can get through this.

  13. Willa

    Judith, I initially started following your posts because of the hats and the outfits, and I quickly because drawn in to the deeply thoughtful commentary that was the real content. I have continued to look forward to your entries because of the insightful approach you have to living fully despite the sorrows you have endured these last few years. I have also felt personally connected because of the parallels my own experiences have evidenced, and I can testify from experience that grief takes over unexpectedly even some extended time after one might think it should diminish. It is a constant struggle to both live it and to rise above it to continue. You give me courage to find my way through, and clearly there are many of us who hope to be a part of lifting your spirits as well when you need to be bolstered. Take care, my friend.

  14. Melanie

    You are so right – style does heal. Art heals. Love heals. I’m glad you found your way back into these colours. Such beauty here. Your red hat is like a huge big kiss and your striped jacket is crisp control. Love it all. I’m glad you have found another friend. Lindy Lyman has such talent as well.

  15. Tamera the Menopausel Supermodel

    Wonderful post Judith. It really had been so uplifting for me during this time of greiving, too.

    You are just so beautiful inside and out!

  16. PamMarie

    May I humbly and gently recommend God’s word for comfort, peace and strength. Nothing else comes close.

  17. milex

    you’re phenomenal

  18. Jan Graham-McMillen

    I wish I had something smart to say about your travels through grief, but I don’t. The thing I like least about aging is the increase of grief. I hate watching what and those we love fall away from us and out of life. It is the most serious of issues. If there is any beauty to be seen here, it is the grace with which you handle your grief. All of us who are lucky enough to have loved will have to go through what you are experiencing. In writing about both your agony and your healing, you offer clues for our futures.
    If my hope to predecease my darling Huz don’t work out, I wish that I might live on as thoughtfully, consciously and intensely as you do.
    We just love you, Judith.

    I offer you a hug that won’t crush you or your outfit, and a smooch on the
    cheek that won’t leave a lipstick mark on your still lovely cheek!

  19. Paula

    Judith–you always leave me speechless with your eloquent posts!
    Glad to be a part of your life–love paula

  20. pao

    You touch me every time with your thoughtful words and stunning images. I’m so glad you share them with us, so we can learn and understand and grow along with you in our own way, some way. You are utterly amazing, dear and wonderful Judith. Thank you for you.

  21. Carol Markel

    The price to pay, it seems, of having loved so long, so hard, so deeply — is the pain when your lover is no longer there. I hope you know that you have legions of friends who are with you every step of the way. And perhaps, art does shine like the sun at the end of the tunnel. And you are a supremely artful person.

  22. Sue @ A Colourful Canvas

    Anniversary grief is often both unexpected and as deeply painful as the grief that accompanied one’s initial loss. Though grief is never really shared, a recent loss is entangled with the feelings and actions of others. Anniversary grief is hidden, solitary. Every experience in our lives is imprinted in our cells, and I believe that part of the pain we feel on these anniversary dates, is our cells literally opening and releasing the emotions that we sealed away years earlier. When I think of creativity and art, I think of flow and movement. Just what your body can benefit from at this time.

    Lindy’s art is lovely. I am in love with her watercolours, particularly her work titled Surging. Thank you for sharing.

    If your feelings of loss draw you deeper, you may wish to consider flower essences. For me, they have been the greatest catalyst for healing after loss. Gentle, non-invasive healing. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

    Sue xo

  23. ariane

    Hi Judith,

    So sorry to hear about your grief- When you loved so much like you did- 2 years is still a short time, i guess it takes time – But you are strong

    Lindy’s art is amazing, thank you for sharing lovely Judith

    Love and hugs

    Ariane xxx

  24. Kathleen Lisson

    After losing both parents I have come to understand that though I can rejoin ‘normal life’ after a few months of mourning, that does not mean that I should be ‘over it’ and not still be affected by loss.

  25. couturetrend

    Hello Dear!

    Great post! Love it


  26. Rosemary Murphy

    A thoughtful and deeply felt post that I’m sure many of us can relate to. I’m sorry that you were brought so low for a time and glad that you are now returned to your usual optimistic and very stylish self! I think that it is necessary to accept being overcome with grief now and then as the counterpart of having greatly loved; there will always be some grief along with all the remembered joys.

  27. Amber of Butane Anvil

    Dear Judith, I am so moved by your incredible articulation of experience, and sorry that I missed this post! Grief is a deeply physical process, and I believe that anniversary times can be encoded in the very cells and atoms of our beings. You honour this stage of the process of “Flourishing Forth,” and it all of a piece feels to be an amazing tribute to your great love given and received. Pat Bertram’s blog is indeed a treasure, as are you, always.

  28. Tamera Beardsley

    Judith YOU have been my lifeline out. In my darkest of times all I had to do was remind myself of your courage, strength, wisdom, honesty and grace and I could put one foot in front of the other..and venture out of my abyss. I will be forever grateful that you share your story…and yourself with the world.

  29. Ann

    What a touching post. This is timely for me because the anniversary of my Mother’s passing is this week. You have truly described lost in a complete and profound manner. It’s so clear the connection you have with your loved one. You have honored their life with your beautiful sharing.

    blue hue wonderland

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