How I Grieved My Brother’s Death Through Art
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
Over the weekend, I was listening to an On Being episode with artist Dario Robleto. His work centers on using unexpected materials to remember: the earliest recorded pulse waves cast in gold, his parents’ record collections ground to dust and cast into delicately balanced pelvises, and “pain bullets” cast from audiotapes of poets, ash, mourning dresses, and various materials. His work sits at the intersection of art, science, and nature – a place where most of my curiosity settles too. Hearing about his work filled me with a desire to share something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I want to tell you how I grieved my brother’s death through art.
I’ve been wanting to share this story with you, and how I used my art to create beauty, ritual, and healing, but when my brother first died, the wounds were fresh, and it seemed too soon, and too much. Now with time, the pandemic, and the incredible hurts Black, Brown and non-gender conforming folk are suffering, I knew I needed to share this story and the tools I used to grieve through art. I hope it offers you comfort, or some ideas about how to process your own grief, at a time when we are all experiencing it.
I don’t normally share this much about my personal life, but it feels important to give to others right now, and so I’m taking the risk. I’d ask that you please not offer advice or judgment.
My brother’s addictions started early, and ended his life early, at just 42.
I got the call when I was at the top of a mountain in Maine. He had an untreatable infection in his foot, it needed to be amputated, and he was probably dying. I’d been half waiting for this call. Every time an unrecognized number in his area rang, my heart stopped a moment. Frequently I’d get calls from a hospital – that he was having fluid drained again, that he needed to stop drinking or he would die because his body was shutting down. I tried to help. Once he even let me help him get back into rehab, but Peter was trying to drown out a pain much greater than himself, and he didn’t want an audience. In the last year or so he barely ever answered my calls and texts, never mind the door.
The Creative Self-Care E-Course Is For You
I was lucky that we were able to get to the hospital for the last few days of Peter’s life – it felt good to be able to to advocate for him and take care of him. I wanted him to know that he was loved and was wasn’t alone. He had whittled down all his savings and had no insurance anymore. He was at a hospital for the uninsured, and they saw him like a lost cause – they treated him okay, but they didn’t see who he was. I showed the doctor a picture of him a few years previous at my wedding, when he was still in recovery, sober, and happy. I talked to her about what he was before he was lying in that hospital bed with a deteriorating foot and missing teeth. She teared up. She talked to Peter differently after that.
As he was dying, when the palliative nurse gave the morphine dose that made him finally relax a bit, he began sipping from an imaginary glass – smiling, and giggling. It turned my stomach. I hated his addictions and what they did to him, and it spoke so clearly of how obliterating the pain was the only thing that brought him relief. But I was relieved he was finally comfortable.
Peter died having pushed away most of the people in his life. He was a good person, but I think he felt ashamed of his addictions, and didn’t want people to see him that way. His funeral had a few family members, his girlfriend, and mostly, my husband’s family, there to support me.
For me, losing Peter was sadness about the loss of my brother, but also so much grief about the life he never realized. He died at age 42 of cirrhosis of the liver. He never married. Never had kids. Never fulfilled so many of his dreams and desires. I wanted a way to grieve these losses, but also to give Peter some of what he never had.
During the time between my brother’s death and the memorial service, I punched out vellum butterflies. Over a hundred. And I folded each wing with a straight edge and carefully pierced each butterfly and strung it on a nylon cord. The repetitive work gave me a way to channel my sadness, my frustration, my questions, and the heaviness. I wanted to create an installation above the table where his ashes would sit – a swarm of butterflies to rise from the ashes and carry him off into the sky.
I loved the delicate, yet strong nature of vellum – there was a vulnerability, like there was to Peter, that seemed right. But at the same time, the butterfly was a symbol of freedom – something I think he never had, but always wished for.
At the service, I suspended butterflies at the entrance, flitting here and there, leading to the swarm of butterflies at the front of the room, ready to carry him off to the heavens.
I gave the remembrance at the service. I felt blessed to be able to create a full circle ritual with my art and my words. To write something real, something poetic to honor him and his life, felt important. To have others hear it, listening with attention and care for Peter, felt healing. Writing this now feels like an extension of that.
I wanted to keep what I’d written for my brother, so I made a book where I recorded my eulogy. I’m so happy I have it; these years later, it still feels right. The art is not perfect, or precise. It’s real. It’s heart felt, and making the book and the butterflies gave me a way to channel and understand my feelings and my hopes. It gave me a way to create a ritual about his death – to honor him, and to give him space for living on – much like Dario Robleto does in his work.
My in laws were very thoughtful and gave me a butterfly bush not long after Peter died. I planted it in our front garden along with some of his ashes. I talk to him sometimes when the butterflies gather around the bush, collecting their nectar and pollen. It makes me happy to be able to offer him a chance to be here with us.
This is the book in full, including a beautiful Mary Oliver poem that encapsulates my hope for him.
I hope that perhaps I’ve offered some ideas about grieving through art. Art can help us honor, create ritual, and keep the people we love present, even after they are gone. Art also has space for all the complicated, messy ways that we love each other, and there’s beauty in that. I wish you much love and comfort right now. You deserve it.
Submit a Comment
Join my newsletter for weekly inspiration, workshops, and ways to connect to nature through art.
Amy, thank you for sharing this.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read it, Nancy. xo
thank you so much for sharing your story………i lost my younger sister to suicide on March 20 1986……..she was 34 years old and a pediatrician……….very sad and tragic…….its a long story, childhood home stuff so we were never close………..
I’m so sorry for your loss, Joanne. xo
Thank you, Amy.
Yesterday would have been my brother’s 64th birthday; he died after a 5 year struggle with cancer when he was 53.
I also used art to process my feelings during his last weeks in palliative care. I also gave his eulogy and it meant so much to me to be able to do that in his memory.
I’d like to share a memory of my brother, if I may.
He and I had a game we played where we would “steal” a little something, a figurine, a picture, from each other’s homes whenever we visited. Sometimes we wouldn’t even realize something was missing until we saw it on the other’s shelf or wall!
Before his funeral I pocketed a tiny wooden bird (which had been our mothers) from his kitchen. When I went to the podium to give the eulogy, I tucked the bird beside the flowers as I told the story of our game.
I think it is the greatest gift to help people understand who our loved ones were and what they meant to us in a meaningful and memorable way. I was so impressed how you shared who your brother was with the doctor and how that impacted her and her treatment of him.
Susan – Thank you for adding this beautiful story of art and symbol here. XO
Beautiful story Susan.
Thanks for sharing!
So glad you shared your story! So many people have family members who have passed away due to addiction. It leaves such a gap and heart ache. May he Rest In Peace!
Hi Gretta: Yes, addictions are so pervasive and difficult. I hope that folks find some comfort here. xo
Thank you for showing us how you honored your brother with tangible beauty and thoughtful love. What a gift of vulnerability you share.
That is so sweet of you. xo
Amy you write and speak so eloquently in all that you share. Your authenticity and courage is so needed and appreciated. Thank you ❤️
Simone, that means a lot to me, thank you.
I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit in you, Amy. Reading your words, I feel moved, I feel inspired, and I feel grateful. I am also remembering my own brother, who died of a drug overdose when he was 37 after a 20-year struggle. I was in graduate school at the time working on an MFA in creative writing. I spent the year after he died, writing and writing and writing, making art from my grief and our family’s long history of addiction and mental illness. Thank you for sharing your process. It makes me grateful to be alive.
Wow Shannon, this really speaks to me. I’m so grateful I was able to reach you and that you had your writing. xo
Amy, thank you for sharing a piece of your heart about your brother. May he be at peace. As a family member who has someone in and out of addiction, we grieve who they were before they took their first drink or drug and learn to love who they are today. Sounds like you loved him well.
You are so brave Amy. Thank you for sharing your and your brothers story
That’s sweet of you Isa. xo
Thank you Amy – I know your pain and grief too. Blessings to you. Art is my reprieve as well it’s what brought me through so much!
Thank you Amy. I deeply appreciate you and this post. Thank you for being you and sharing this.
Thank you for being a beautiful witness, Connie.
I am so touched by your posting, Amy. And I am sorry for your loss.
Thank you for bearing witness, Suzie, I hope it offered you something today.
Thank you for sharing Amy! What a touching, relevant story. I’m sorry for your loss.
It’s so lovely of you to say, Donna. xo
My heart is full and my tears are flowing.
That’s a very lovely sentiment coming from you, Rollyne. Thank you for reading with an open heart. xo
Thank you for sharing this and for offering a means for others to experience their own grief through creativity. It’s a lovely gift of yourself. It’s also a peek into a little of who your brother was, for those of us who never had the chance to know him.
Thanks for your careful reading, Lisa, and for your beautiful comment.
This was just wonderful Amy. Thank you for being in space that you were able to share this deeply personal chapter of your journey. It’s a privilege to witness your work and to be able to learn from you in all your great and small expressions of self. Much love and thank you.
That’s such a love-filled message Megs. Thank YOU.
Thank you for sharing from your heart.
(Mom of an Addict)
Thanks Judy. Hugs to you and your family.
Thank you x
What an amazing sister you are, I’m sorry for your loss. Your husband and his family are beautiful to have been there for you both.
Much love to you all
Karyn – that’s so kind of you. Yes, my husband and his family have been amazing; I’m very lucky. xo
so brave of you to share such personal feelings. you did well. i think you have so many friends through your art that your story is so well received and safe. I think you made a leap forward in coming to terms with your brother’s death…….because now” it is” (title of a well known book about grieving author frank mccourt. thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much Anja.
Thank you, Amy, for sharing a sacred piece of your soul and your continuous journey of discovery through art. My heart goes out to you and your grieving process. The butterfly is a beautiful metaphor for transformation, freedom and release. Sometimes we just hold on so tight to our hurts, griefs and losses that we forget to just be.
Yes, art is a beautiful release. xo Thanks for reading.
Telling our story and releasing the impact of emotions of grief is powerful it help navigate the loss and it helps open up ideas for others who are grieving loss in their life. Especially critical this year thanks for sharing
Yes, in this year of loss. That’s a good way to put it. Thanks for reading. xo
Thank you, Amy. 🦋
So glad it speaks to you, Peggy. xo
This story is so beautiful and heartfelt. It speaks to the true purpose of art. Thank you so much for sharing your story, your work, and a piece of yourself. ❤️
Melinda – Thanks so much for being here and for seeing my work.
thank you. this is why we do what we do…
your gifts of words and image are so precious. thank you.
Indeed, it’s so important to art it out. Thanks Michelle.
Very beautiful, thanks for sharing
Thank you Yolanda.
Thank you Amy, for your vulnerability, for your beautiful and heartfelt words, and your inspiring art. Once again you’ve shown us how powerful art can be, even the small, simple pieces, and how meaningful the process really is in the end. Powerful.
Thank you so much for your close reading Jean Ann, it means a lot. xo
I remember you telling me about all of the beautiful art and sharing of stories to remember your brother. I loved reading about it again and I think it’s so great that you shared this with a larger audience. I’m sure it was so therapeutic for you and I’m certain that others will benefit from hearing this story. Love you, my friend. Xo
Maura – it’s so lovely that you took the time to read this post, and I so appreciate your kind words. I miss our runs and sharing this and all kinds of things. Love you too. xo
Amy, when I first saw your link, I waited to click on it until I was in for the day. I was afraid I would be in tears, but it made me feel good. I lost my friend Bill to cirrhosis several years ago. I tossed some of his ashes into the wind at the river in Chicopee, where he had started a theatre company long before I had met him. I plan to use the remainder of his ashes in an art project someday. My brother Bruce died 50 years ago (age 15) & it was 15 years before I talked about that–in therapy. And my brother Henry died 25 years ago (age 41). I imagine creating a large mandala one of these days, and I will know when it is time. Thank you for sharing your story and your process.
Brian – You are one of the most feeling, genuine people I’ve met in recent years. I’m so moved by your authenticity, your activism, and love for others. I’m lucky that you choose to shine some of that on me. 🙂 I’m so sorry about Bill, and I can imagine the art project will be amazing. I’m sorry for your brothers too. I think a big mandala would be very powerful. It reminds me of the beautiful sand art mandalas that get made in different parts of the world as part of Hindu and Buddhist ritual. xo
Dear Wonderful, Creative You (Amy), I see your heart’s love in the translucent butterflies and can imagine hearing you speak from your heart for your brother, and in his memory upon his passing. My takeaways from this are many but my top two are 1) art allows us to express so much more than what is seen by the eye and 2) the ascending translucent butterflies you made not only expressed creativity, but also expressed the symbolism of the butterfly in regard to change, joy, potential, transformation and ascension. Monarchs pass through my town during their migration to the high mountains of Mexico. Many die before completing the journey but many more survive and thrive. Blessings to you. Thank you for sharing.
Lorranine – I love seeing how much you got from this post. Thank you. And I love the butterfly story, thank you for sharing that.
Gosh thank you Amy. This is extremely moving Amy and very inspiring to me. I want to thank you for sharing such a heart-grieving creative process that you journeyed. Your vellum butterflies were an exceptional touch. I am teary and goose bumped from your words. Again, thank you for sharing. Love to you and the biggest of hugs. XXX
This is so sweet, and so kind of you to make me feel so seen with your words. I’m so pleased it touched something in you. xo
I am very moved by your vulnerable sharing, thank you… Art is indeed a gift that can help us navigate and express our deepest of feelings and your example is a very beautiful one. I too use art to help me process my feelings and am grateful for the peace it creates in me. I have been following you for awhile now and you are inspiring me to finally start sharing my work. Thank you xox
Dear Annette – It’s lovely to see you here. Art is such a gift to us all. I’m so happy I could spark you to make something today. xo
Thank you for sharing this deeply personal experience and especially about your brother, Amy. This is beautiful.
My own brother died while we were in childhood. I appreciate your art in acknowledgement of your brother and your grieving process. Very helpful.
HI Shannon: Losing a sibling in childhood must be very hard. Thanks for reading here. xo
I’m so sorry for your loss, Amy. Thank you for sharing your art-filled way to process grief. Your vulnerability and hope are inspiring xxx
Thank you so much for your careful reading and looking, Sharon. xo
Dearest Amy, Thank you so much for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes as I am facing something that resonates very much with what you wrote here. It has given me something to think about as the next period of time unfolds xx
Amanda – I am so sorry that you are dealing with something so difficult, and so happy that this has sparked something in you. xo
Thank you so much for sharing this very personal loss and grief. I am so sorry for your loss. But what an amazing tribute to him, setting him free together with the Butterflies, which is such a strong statement. I fully understand how art can help you/us cope with the difficult and sas moments, as well as the good and happy ones.
Thank you 💖
Thanks so much for being here, Dori.
Amy, I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this post.
Thank you Diane.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and your feelings Amy. Reading this made me cry, it is very powerful and my heart goes out to you. I love the book you made and the butterflies, which have always been my special symbol during difficult times too.
Hellen – butterflies are an amazing symbol, yes. I’m so happy this touched you, and thanks. xo
Just the title stirred my inside, I did not read immediately. Came to it later…I lost a brother three years ago. Though I think we lost the person, his potential long before. Hard to pin point a time when people make choices, bad ones that start the downward spiral.
Thank you for sharing. Very caring of your inlaws.
I still have to process the anger I have around my relationship with my brother. Letting go, and also letting the butterflies fly.
Rina, thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I hope that there’s something that sparks a path for you here or elsewhere soon. xo
I needed to read this at this point in my life. Knowing how to get around and move on. Thank you for sharing.
Oh Tereza that makes me so happy. Thank you. And I hope it’s a help.
Thank you Amy for so beautifully sharing your story of losing your brother. Although you could not take away his demons when he was alive, you celebrated his life through your art.
Thanks so much for your comment, and for seeing it all.
Thank you for sharing. I have always used journaling to write through the pain of loss—documenting the good things and processing the pain. Now that I’ve become familiar with your slow drawing techniques, I’ve included that to my journaling practice and it’s added so much. I always look forward to the next FB live.
I’m so happy I can be of help, Cheryl. Thanks for being here.
Thank you for sharing…your use of art allowed for honoring your brother and provide a sense of closure. Thank you for trusting us with your intimate experience. Your in laws thoughtful gesture of the butterfly plant was so lovely… you have love around you. Much care and support to you from me over the computer waves!
Yes, I’m so lucky to have such lovely people in my family because of my husband. Thanks for being here and seeing me. xo
Dear Amy ~ This is a courageous and beautiful tribute to your dear brother and his life. Thank you for sharing it with us. ♥️
Thanks so much Roseanne. xo
Sharing this helps with your healing and in a beautiful way helps others heal. It comes at a time when I am approaching the 3 year anniversary of my husband’s death. In that time I discovered art as a way to help my healing. I have filled many art journals where butterflies are abundant, symbolic of transformation and renewal. When my future daughter-in-law died of an overdose earlier this year, I painted over 80 flower pots to help process my grief. We had hoped to use them at a memorial, when we can do one. You have been part of my journey and this post touched me in so many ways. Thank you for being there for myself and everyone else. My thoughts are with you on your journey.
Hi Judi – Your words are so sweet, and I’m so sorry for all the incredible loss you are having to deal with, especially now. I’m so touched that I could be a part of your healing journey, and I hope that much more healing is to come. Hugs.
Amy, again you have blessed us with your heart and given us the tools to help us on our own journey. May you find those special signs of the soul gently liting in yur garden and in your heart -thank you.
That’s lovely, Marion, thank you.
I hear you. I see you.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.
~ from an Irish headstone.
Holding space for you in your grief. No matter how long it’s been.
Know you are not alone.
Also I love your slow drawing on Wed. I make art almost every day with your suggestions/patterns. I share that art(for free) regularly with as many people as I can. I make every drawing on cards vs a flat piece of paper. That way I can spread love, joy, gratitude to many people. Your generosity of your yime teaching the free class has reached several hospital staff, several friends(one said my notes saved her life LITERALLY). I often give a bunch of blank cards, with only my drawing on the front so they can spread love and gratitude to others. Your giving has lead many many people getting love and encouragement sent or given to them.
Wishing you peace, time in nature, love, and gratitude on your journey.
HI Sue: This is a lovely message. I’m so so pleased to hear how you have extended the giving, it makes me very happy. Well done you.
Thank you for sharing the book you created for your brother and how art has helped you on your journey through grief and loss. Warm hugs. Judy
Thank you Judy.
Thank you for sharing this, Amy, and for sharing your brother’s beauty and pain. You and your art are a gift to so many—thank you. I’m sorry for your loss.
Thanks so much for the kind words, Carolyn.
I took notice of your butterfly memorial in one of your photos once, and wondered if they had meaning. Thank you for sharing your personal story. You are a beautiful soul. May your brother Rest In Peace.
Thanks for being here lovely Joanne. xo
Deep bow to you Amy for your generous, open-hearted sharing. I still have my Father’s ashes in a drawer and have never thought about creating through art something that honors him and my own loss. You’ve planted a fertile seed🙏🏻♥️
Oh Heather, I love knowing I’ve planted that seed in you. Lovely. So sorry about your father. xo
Your story is so beautiful. Once again you are such a good role model for us all. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. It reminds me of the many intentions I’ve had for doing similar things. A handwritten note of (sent on a handmade card) is something that I always want to do and don’t get around to. Like the inchies I need to have the materials in my space … I won’t be perfect at getting the cards done and in the mail but at least I will be closer. Baby steps.
Deb – thanks for reading -and if it’s of any help, I find when I break those things into small steps, I do them more. It does seem silly, but it is hard putting together the hand written card, and such. Of course, then when I do it, especially if it brings joy, it’s so worth it. xo
You are an inspiration to us through your art and your words. Thank you for all you do.
Thanks for being here, Uli.
Thank you Amy for sharing your heart with us. I lost my brother for natural causes and still feel hard to understand all the thing that he wasn’t able to achieve because all his drams were shattered too early.
Thank you Norma, and I’m sorry about your brother. xo
Thank you for sharing your experience. I can understand, having recently experienced loss myself, I have found solace and therapy in art. It is so healing. While mine was not loss of a family member, loss experienced hits all of us. Very inspiring post.
Thank you for being here, and for bearing witness Rohini. I’m sorry for your loss.
Amy – I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. The creative process can be so healing. I know first hand of loss by addiction and using creativity to heal. I lost my daughter nearly 8 years ago to a heroin overdose. I was called to write about her and wrote a book of poems and used photographs for each one. It was a time of sadness but also a time of remembering the good times. Thank you for sharing. XO
Lois- Gosh, the immense pain of losing a child – I cannot imagine. I’m so sorry. How beautiful that you created that work to live those memories. That’s what I love about art and spirituality – they create a space for me where I can still be with someone, even once they are gone.
This is a beautiful tribute to your love for your brother. It was so brave of you to share, thank you for opening your heart and sharing your story. I hope that your pain has been replaced by loving memories. Love continues…..
It’s beautiful to have these tools, and this platform. I’m grateful.
This is so beautiful. My brother died young from addictions too. I wish i had my art at that time but I do now. Thank you for sharing this with us. Much love to you.
Denise – I’m sorry about your brother. I’m so happy you have all the art tools you have now.
How beautiful and sad. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you Bonnie.
Thank you so much Amy. I lost my younger brother several years ago also. He came home from Vietnam addicted to drugs and alcohol. There were several years when I didn’t know if he was alive or living under a bridge somewhere. When he get clean, after many, many stints in rehab, we re-connected and I had my little brother back again for a few years. He did die of cancer caused by agent orange. I still find myself, at times, getting so angry about the war and his addictions and my feelings of helplessness and his early death and then I remember his soul and what a special person he was in his heart and I am able to celebrate the man who was and always will be my sensitive and kind little brother. Thank you for sharing your memories and allowing for the space for so many of us who have grieved such a loss along with you.
Kris – thank you for sharing your story as well. It’s beautiful and sad and important.
Such a loving, gentle way to honor your brother Peter.
Thank you Viola.
Thank you so very much, Amy, for sharing this beautiful and heartfelt post. You have a beautiful spirit and have touched all of us in your art community in so many ways. You are truly an inspiration in troubled times.
Sally – it fills me up to know you feel that I can inspire and help right now when we all need it so much. XO
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m glad your art helped you with this sad loss.
Thank you kindly Joan.
Thank you for sharing. I’ve lost both of may brothers in the last fews years to cancer. One conquered his smoking habit, fought his cancer tooth and nail, but still lost in the end. The other got scared and ran away from it, ignoring it and running into the arms of his addictions rather than fight. Both were hard to see, both were horribly hard to be with while the cancer ate them away, but the younger was harder because his addictions seemed so much more important than anything else, so reading your experience helps me add perspective and to really grieve. Thanks.
Angel – I’m so sorry about your brothers. I’m also so happy that I could help you a bit with your grief. XO
Amy you are a gift to so many. You offer ways to heal so many kinds of afflictions. I am so sorry for your incredible loss of your brother. I was so moved by your story of love and acceptance of your brother’s gifts and ability to see past his disease. Thank you so much for opening up in such a personal way. That takes a lot of courage and desire to help others. You show so many the way to heal which is not an easy path. But you make a safe place for all of us. I love your beautiful, beautiful heart. The world is a better place because you are in it.
Oh goodness, Carol, you are so kind to read so openly, and I your words are incredibly meaningful to me. Thank you for that gift. My hope is to give.
Thank you for sharing.
With heartfelt feeling.
Thank you Eleni.
Thank you for sharing your story. God showed you a way to work through your grief and you took that way.
Thank you so much for being here Linda. For me, I would say I found a way, but yes, art has beautiful ways of offering us healing. xo
Thank you for sharing this personal, loving artwork in memory of your brother.
That’s so kind of you, Sandra.
What a beautiful way to honor your brother. I am so sorry for your loss❤️
Thank you Vicki. xo
Thank you for sharing your story. I am using my art and journalling to grieve the loss of my 21 year old son from suicide. It is a powerful healing tool that I am appreciating even more so now.
I love the vellum butterflies and will use that material in my creative remembering but with stars .
Thank you for your work and blessings of healing to you in your continuous process of healing.
Hi Jackie – Thank you for sharing your story. I am so so sorry about the loss of your son to suicide. I send healing hugs and I hope that the vellum stars offer you comfort. xo
Thank you so much, Amy, for sharing this intimate part of your life. Your words are so heartfelt and authentic that I felt like I was right there with you by your brother’s side in the hospital as well as when you got “the” phone call. Your butterfly art is poetic and beautiful.
Thank you for your close reading, Christine, it means a lot. xo
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful, heartfelt story. I lost my younger brother, my only sibling, a year ago. He died from myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of leukemia. No one has my history anymore. You know, all those little “secret” things kids share and parents don’t know. I pour over old photos of him and your brother’s story has encouraged me to use some sort of art to honor his life. I am so sorry for your loss. You have helped so many of us today with your beautiful story. Sending you love and prayers
Hi Kathie: Yes, I hear you on others not having your history. That’s a poetic way to put that part of the loss. I am so so happy that this sparked an idea for you, as it’s exactly my hope. xo
Thank you Amy for sharing this story of Peter. I totally stopped my art when my mom died in 2011, and just now have actually been able to put not only ink pen down but color too. I do not know if this will help my deep depression but I hope it does. I know the little slow draws are good for me and gets me going easy without big thinking it is mindful, and I appreciate it so much. I am also feeling better about putting paint into my big sketchbooks now too. I am so glad this has helped you and the butterfly bush is a wonderful way to see him always, keep it strong and growing dear Amy.
Elaine, I’m so sorry about your mom and I’m so happy you are able to do your art a bit more and more.
Thank you, Amy, for sharing this! It moved my heart in many ways. I can relate on some levels of hating a loved ones addiction, while loving them with an aching heart that knows they are ultimately hurting deeply, because they don’t want to have an addiction. It leaves feelings of helplessness. Separately, I can relate to using art to honor and remember a loved one. Sharing vulnerabilities is powerful. This was helpful in many for things that have been on my mind lately in a desire to share some of my stories. Inspired. Thank you again for sharing.
I’m so happy that this sparked something for you and resonated as well. That is of course, always my hope when I put something out there.Thanks for taking the time to write. xo
Amy, thank you for sharing such a personal story. I know how much art has pulled me through difficult times. Creative endeavors always give me the space to process and find a way forward.
Verity – I’m so happy to hear that art has helped you so much. Thanks for reading with an open heart. xo
I couldn’t agree more with all the comments above about you Amy. Having read through them all it is a shock how many others in this group have experienced deep loss once or many times. Your post reminded me of all the eulogies and wonderful memories that were shared about the person after the funerals and that’s changed me to make sure I tell these things to people when they are still alive. I too am so happy I came across you – you have made a huge difference and have also almost convinced me that I can be an artist having been told in school many years that I was rubbish which had always stayed with me :O)
I’m so so gratified that I can help you with your creative life! And yes, I think loss and grief is a part of the human experience and it touches us all. Addictions and mental health issues are far more pervasive than we think. Thanks for being here. xo
I was reading your blog after taking your Willowing Arts Lifebook lesson. This entry about your brother and grieving through art is incredibly powerful and authentic. Beautiful and inspiring on so many levels. Thank you for sharing this very personal journey. I know I will come back to it many times in the future. With gratitude, thank you.
I’m thrilled to connect with you through Life Book. And I’m so touched by your close reading of my post about my brother, it means so much to me. If you haven’t already, I’d love to stay connected here. You can join our newsletter here.
All the best to you.
Amy im so sorry to hear i had no idea. i wanted to refresh my memory with your lovely lessons to pass them on in my work as a psychologist and bumbed in to the post about your brother. im so sad with you and want you to know you are an inpiration to me. virtual hug. hagit
Your words are very sweet; I appreciate it and I’m so glad I can help you!
What a beautiful offering of love to your brother as well as a way he can live on in peace in this life and in spirit. Your ideas give me inspiration to create – I’ve wanted to do a memorial to the generations of my family that are here still and those who’ve passed. Thank you for sharing this – much love <3
Oh that’s so lovely of you, Lee. XO
Such a sad and touching story. Thank you. My brother, Kim, died on May 9th 1977 of a heroin overdose. I was 22, he was 24.There wasn’t much help for our family or for him those days. We were never quite the same. I got sober in 1983 after vowing I would not do what he did. My addictions were different but I started down that path briefly until I could see that i needed help. Your “slow Art” is SO helpful to me, and this community is so loving. Thank you, and I am so sorry you lost your dear brother.
HI Melissa: Thank you for sharing your story of strength and love. I’m so sorry about your brother. Hugs.
Thank you for sending this out again. I didn’t see it in 2020. Reading it has brought me in touch with my own brother’s death in 2019. So many details are the same. He was 52 and his body shut down from addiction to alcohol that he could not stop. I have pushed his death down and not dealt with it. I lost my mother last year and I pushed that down as well. Your post has given me some ideas about how to begin to process the losses. Thank you for your openness. It really does help other people feel their way through.
HI Kate: I’m so sorry for your losses, and I understand how hard it is to face difficulty. I am so pleased that my writing has offered you some starting places.
Thank you for sharing. My brother just died in February from COVID. We used to be very very close through my teenager years and young 20’s. He was probably the one I felt closest to. During the 2016 election and some time earlier than that we grew apart because our politics were so different. He was all Blue Lives Matter and I am Black Lives Matter. I support LGBTQ and I have a trans child. He came out heavy against that and also started in on my religious beliefs. The only thing that brought us together a bit is my Mother’s sickness and death in 2020. But it was only through texts. So as you can imagine his death brings all kinds of conflicting feelings up. I’m still very confused and mourning my Mom’s death and his so when I saw your blog post today I was immediately interested. Thanks for sharing such a tender part of your past with us. <3
HI Jeanne: Oh gosh, it’s all so hard – the political differences and rifts and losses. I hope that you are able to find some peace with it all. I do completely understand how hard that is. Many blessings on you.
Thank you Amy for sharing your story; as I read it I thought “this is my story about my brother” only he was 38 and we hadn’t been close in some time due to his addictions. This was 30 years ago and I had to get through my dad’s slow decline into Alzheimer’s and then my mom’s into deep dementia 20 years later. I’ve dealt with mom with therapy but your story made me realize I have never even started to deal with my brother’s life and death. Lots of anger and tears there….. all tied to leaving me with aging parents alone…. and no art at that time. I feel more prepared now to start and use art as part of the healing process. Thank you again.
I’m so happy I could help, Geneen!xo
Thank you for sharing this experience with us. My best friend and soul mate of 50 years died of cancer a while back leaving a gaping hole in my life. I love the idea of using my creativity to honour that closeness and the loss.
Thank you for sharing your journey~ It’s stories like this that make me treasure and nurture my 20 years of sobriety. I cannot take it for granted. I’m sorry for your loss…