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How To Move From Grief To Creativity

Written by: Donna Collins, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


To know that it is possible to move from intrusive thoughts and the deepest and intensely painful feelings to a state of possibility, choices, and joy brings a sense of relief and gives hope to so many.

When do we experience grief?

Grief is a topic that is talked about very little in Western culture. It is often thought about in the same context as loss and many people believe grief happens solely through bereavement.

However, grief can be experienced in many different ways, through an endless number of life scenarios, which are experienced as loss, this includes bereavement, however, it can also be experienced at the end of a relationship; at the diagnosis of serious illness or disability and unexpected job loss.

Any perceived loss can bring the experience of grief.

For example, as a human race, we have recently experienced pain and loss collectively, through the experience of a global pandemic, not only through the loss of so many lives, but also the forced change of life, on so many levels, for so many people. The loss of freedom, through restricted movement, has also caused deep emotional pain for huge numbers of people.

And yet, although this is a common and immensely intense and life-changing experience, it is talked about very little, which means that people start to believe their feelings are not valid and often start to believe that grieving means there is something wrong with them or that they are weak in some way for not just ‘getting on with things.’


Grief is experienced by many as feeling completely overwhelmed and consumed by intense feelings. An image of a tsunami swallowing the land as it powerfully descends upon the shore conjures up how powerful these feelings can be.

This intensity is magnified because there is a cacophony of feelings that can happen either at once or in close succession to each other. These tend to include anger, sadness and fear, as well as frustration. These feelings can bring confusion and an inability to function. Many people experience exhaustion as their energy is depleted when attempting to manage the feelings that seem to seize the body during this time.

The level of fear can be extremely heightened as a dramatic change in external circumstances, including the loss of someone who has been in a person's life, all of their life, can be completely de-stabilising.

The overwhelming feelings can lead to a lack of confidence and self-esteem, often motivating a person to self-isolate, which escalates feelings and brings loneliness.

I have heard the experience of grief described many times, both in my psychotherapy practice and in my personal life, as ‘having a breakdown.’

I have always found the term ‘breakdown,’ a striking term. And I have wondered what does this term mean? I have come to realise that ‘breakdown’ is used to describe the dissolving defences and adaptations of the psyche that keep emotions under wraps and provide a strong enough ego to retain sufficient confidence, to exist and thrive in the world.

A breakdown could be described therefore as ‘forced surrender.’ The words themselves sound painful and the experience is more intensely so. Along with the external loss of something or someone that a person may be attached to or identified with, in life; the ego is also forced to acknowledge and accept that nothing can be done to change or control events.

This sense of a lack of control is a direct threat to the psyche and can be experienced as a threat to survival. This experience provokes immense fear in a person in addition to the fear created by the original loss.

Within the pain of letting go, there lies a gift.

This may seem unlikely to some. You may question if there is anything that could bring a positive outcome in times of grief. In my experience, there is. There is something incredibly profound that is happening to a person when they describe ‘having a breakdown.’

They are, generally, waking up.

What I mean by this is waking up to all of the societal conditioning a person has experienced all of their lives. They are starting to sense something beyond the processes of the mind that have kept them safe and yet small all their lives.

In these moments of surrendering, something shifts within the self. When the ego surrenders, new insight emerges. Something we could perhaps consider as coming from the heart instead, or perhaps through intuition; a ‘gut instinct.’ Deep wisdom arises within a person that is somehow outside of logical or intellectual thought. This emerges through the doorway called Grief.

‘This’ forced listening to the self, beyond thought, that many are attempting to achieve through meditation and yoga, is the beginning of a stilling and quietening of the ego and the busy mind. The unconscious stories that the mind has been playing throughout everyday life that have inadvertently caused huge pain start to quieten. In their place arises an embodied sense of peace instead.

The essence of this experience is depicted by the Persian poet Rumi when he wrote: ‘The wound is the place where the light enters you.’ The wound is the starting point and the slowing, surrendering, and silencing of the mind enables a person to listen to this Light differently, beyond words and thoughts.

This Light is also the place where my work with clients takes on a further profound deepening. As Rumi suggests, the Light lies within the pain and deep wounding of grief. The natural propensity for most people, particularly in western culture, is to attempt to turn away and avoid the pain, and it is easy for people to turn away from the Light too.

However, if the pain can be listened to, and felt, whilst being placed in the metaphoric arms of compassion; vibrant, flowing energy starts to emerge from the Light. This flowing energy that seems to rise from the depths of a person often felt in the stomach, is initially experienced as acceptance and peace. This is the point at which many people stop therapy as acceptance of the original loss is often the focus.

However, there is something else that follows if a person can continue to listen to the acceptance and peace and this is a constant stream of ideas and possibilities arising from this same place.

We call this Creativity…

What Is Creativity?

This may be surprising for some, as many people view creativity as something you do. Specifically, something we have all been conditioned to think of as ‘creative work,’ such as drawing or painting; sculpting; designing or composing music. In essence, we often think of being creative as ‘making’ something, usually a tangible object.

And yet, the ultimate creativity, arising from infinite flowing energy, is not tangible, initially at least; it is an inner state of being. An endless flow of energy that brings a feeling of excitement and aliveness. Being in this flow is described by many as the ultimate experience of being truly present; being completely immersed in the experience of awareness which brings a sense of being that is beyond time.

What is beautiful about creativity, and hugely challenging at the same time, is that there is no space for fear. This brings a sense of joy for many and also makes it very challenging to become creative when fear is present.

Energetically, we could see creativity and joy as an expanded state of being. When we experience fear, our energy is contracted and we feel small and sometimes helpless; lacking in ideas or thoughts about how to change our lives.

When we are experiencing creative flow, it is possible to express our creativity in the world in endless supply! Creative expression can be in any form, especially if we allow ourselves to flow with it, with no judgement. It can be expressed in the ways we articulate things about ourselves, the people we interact with, the places we go, or even in the way we make our tea.

Ultimately, we can create a life we love.

Creative Imagination

And if we can imagine, we can create, as imagination is an inner expression of creativity, viewed through the lens of the mind as imagery rather than thought. In our inner world, we can create an infinite number of images, people, scenes, and even worlds past and present.

The incredibly beautiful thing about imagination is that every image brings a multitude of dimensions of experience. We can experience every sensation, using all of our remembered external sensory perceptions. We can also experience different emotions.

We can re-create our internal state of being in any given moment, which we can then express outwardly in the world.

Creativity, therefore, also enables us to continuously re-experience our inner power. We can start to believe that we can consciously choose to feel any emotion; breathe any smell; touch any texture, any time we like!

Creativity, therefore, brings heightened joy as it also enables us to experience inner freedom. We can start to realise that we are not slaves to our emotions, nor our addictions that are ultimately external stimulants used to change these emotions.

We can create however we want to feel, whatever we want to think, and how we express it.

For many, creativity becomes the bridge between the physical and the spiritual with imagination acting as the gateway towards spirituality; metaphorically giving a friendly, gentle wave of encouragement as you pass through the gate. Spiritual awareness can also continue the experience of inner freedom and expansiveness.

The starting point in the evolutionary consciousness of humanity, especially in the western world, is perhaps, to recognise the necessity, and at the same time, the limitations and suffering caused by the human mind, and the gift of the ability to step beyond these limitations, is through embracing our emotions; our grief and our pain.

Ultimately, we can learn that within the depths of our wounding, is a door that is opening to our true, limitless, expansive selves, and ultimately inner freedom.

In my book, Faith In Everyday Life, I expand further on these concepts and give practices to help readers access and experience wholeness and freedom within.

Donna Collins

Author of Faith In Everyday Life; Psychotherapist and Evolutionary Teacher

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Donna Collins, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Donna Collins is a unique presence in the field of psychotherapy and evolutionary consciousness. She is the author of Faith In Everyday Life; a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, and the Founder of Star Energy Healing.

Bereavement was the catalyst for a significant spiritual awakening, which transformed Donna's life from a corporate environment to psychotherapy and healing. Donna has refined her work and now teaches sensitive people how to overcome their fears and create a life they love.



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