Lauren Rudolph is committed to helping people improve their wellbeing through holistic health approaches, poetry, and art. Lauren’s art focuses on mental health, emotions, and healing. She created this series of three paintings that demonstrates the importance of letting yourself feel and express your emotions. This series of paintings can help you to mindfully observe your emotions without judgment.
The series of paintings explores the experience of grief through three aspects of what people often experience during grief. These are Grief Contained, Grief Exploding, and Coexisting Emotions.
Grief Contained demonstrates what it is like when grief feels surrounded by love, with the pain tucked neatly inside. On the outside, someone may look fine, but deep inside their grief is still there. For someone experiencing Grief Contained, it can feel like things are okay enough to get through day-to-day, but the pain is still there, surrounded by warmth.
Rudolph explains that the paintings Grief Contained and Grief Exploding are made with all the exact same colours of paint – the same components of emotional experience – but the person’s experience is very different.
Grief Exploding shows the moments when grief can’t stay contained, when it bursts out of its seams. For someone experiencing Grief Exploding, it might feel like it comes on out of nowhere. For others, it explodes around an anniversary, or it even hits you years after the loss. This makes the grief explode all over again.
It’s important to remember that even when someone looks like their grief is contained or it’s been years since their loss, Grief Exploding can still be around the corner. And this is normal. Grief does not need to remain contained and it’s okay if grief breaks free and explodes out of your eyes as tears.
It’s important to observe where you’re at. Whether grief is contained or grief is exploding or something in between, try to mindfully observe and not change it. If you let it flow, the emotions will move through you. Maybe you’ll move from Grief Exploding back to Grief Contained just by letting yourself feel it and letting the grief release.
There is also Coexisting Emotions, which is the last painting in Lauren Rudolph’s series. There are various experiences in life, such as grief, that elicit many types of emotions. Coexisting Emotions shows that you can feel joy and gratitude; anger; despair and hopelessness; and sadness and grief, all at the same time. One emotion does not need to detract from other emotions. In fact, humans typically can’t selectively numb emotions – if we numb one emotion, we numb the others. If we numb grief, we numb gratitude. But if you let yourself feel grief and gratitude and let them coexist, then they can add to the richness of life.
Even further, according to Internal Family Systems theory and Parts Work, everyone has different parts of themselves that feel different emotions and serve different functions. Coexisting Emotions demonstrates the value of mindfully observing the different parts of yourself that feel different emotions, and that welcoming all your feelings is an important part of healing.
Feature image: Alexander Grey at Pexels, Creative Commons
Body images: Lauren Rudolph, used with artist’s permission