9 Art Therapy Ideas for Grieving Pet Parents
Finding ways to heal after pet loss doesn’t have to be conventional. Talking to friends, family or a professional is helpful for starting the path to recovery after losing a pet. However, traditional talk therapy is not the only way to start your journey to finding joy again. As a multi-faceted individual, you’ll find what works for someone else may not work for you. For this reason, I personally have explored many avenues to find healing post-pet loss. One of the ways I learned to find healing included art therapy. Today I’ll share with you 9 art therapy ideas for grieving pet parents to explore.
What is art therapy?
So, you may be asking, “What is art therapy?” As defined by Merriam-Webster.com, art therapy is defined as:
“Therapy based on engagement in artistic activities (such as painting or drawing) as a means of creative expression and symbolic communication especially in individuals affected with a mental or emotional disorder or cognitive impairment”
In other words, art therapy uses your creative expression through different mediums, including painting, drawing, poetry, etc. to help soothe and address feelings that are associated with grief, loss, or any other emotionally impacting situation. Art therapy is a tool to help provide a healthy distraction and place of serenity and peace apart from the negative emotions associated with grief and loss. Exploring your creativity after grief is a positive way to reclaim the joy in your life.
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Creative Ideas to Explore
So, let’s explore these fun and creative mediums in art that can potentially help you reclaim joy and happiness in your life again while still honoring your pet.
Decorating frames is a great idea you can do solo or with the whole family. You can purchase little odds and ends from craft stores like Michaels or Etsy and decorate with your own style and imagination. Use different mediums and textures. You can use paint, felt, glitter or beads. You are only limited by your imagination. Once your art project is complete you can install your favorite picture of your pet in the frame to display.
Write a letter
A second art therapy idea is of the written word kind. You can write a love letter to your pet. I personally did not try this until a few years after my cats passed away but found it so therapeutic.
Take a moment of silence to sit and reflect on your life with your beloved pet(s). Then, write down what you would want them to know now that they have transitioned to the other side. Think about what was your greatest memory together. Did you have a favorite trip you shared together? Do you recall a time your pet made you laugh uncontrollably? Do you recall the day you met? What lessons did your pet teach you in this life?
These are all points of reference to explore and prompt you to jot down in a letter to your pet.
Make a memory quilt.
A more old-fashioned art therapy project is making a quilt. Quilts are a great personalized way to bring the highlights of your life together into a work of art. You can create your own memorial quilt or if you are a beginner or looking to try something new there are beginner’s kits and guides you can explore.
You can explore pet portrait quilts and patterns available on Amazon. They even have more basic no-sew quilt kits for kids as well.
Use a grief journal
Sometimes when you are experiencing grief you do not even have the words to express the depth of your pain out loud. And keeping a grief journal is an excellent way to release those painful emotions through pen to paper.
I’ve always been a fan of journaling and it has helped in different pivotal points in my life. Reflecting on previous life experiences, I now see just how far I’ve come and am stronger as a result.
A grief journal can be as simple as a composition book from the Dollar General store or more elaborate and personalized. There are multiple options of designs you can explore to suit your needs. Below are just a few examples.
Adult Coloring books
Using adult coloring books is another art therapy idea to consider. Yes, I said adult coloring books! Coloring is not just for kids, but it will make you feel like one again. I have a couple of coloring books myself.
The process of coloring in designs pre-drawn and the set is super easy. It’s a simplistic way to take your mind off the present and revert to a time in the past as a kid when your biggest problems included eating all your vegetables at dinner time and making sure you color inside the lines.
Adult coloring books offered today come in many different themes. Naturally, I’d choose a cat or animal theme, however, you are not limited to only pets. You can choose classic cars, landscapes, or florals. Whatever your heart is led to explore, try it.
All you need is a decent set of coloring pencils and a separate uninterrupted space to try your art project in peace.
Take an art class
One of my favorite memories years ago included attending an adult art class on my birthday with a few dear co-workers and friends. For the first time I tried a Paint and Sip class.
If you are looking for a different type of creative art experience outside the home, consider taking an art class. There are different art classes available. Painting, pottery, and sculpture classes are just a few types you can explore. *Note: Due to COVID-19, some art classes are offering virtual sessions.
When I tried a Paint and Sip class years ago, I had a blast. I found out about art classes via LivingSocial.com at the time. It is still a good resource to try when searching your local area for options of things to do. Plus, they often offer discounts on services from participating vendors. Who doesn’t like to save a little cash, right?
If this sounds like something you may be interested in, you can visit the LivingSocial website here and explore things to do in your hometown.
Make a photo collage.
If you have hoards of old pictures lying around or stored away, it is time to do some decluttering and make use of those happy memories. Make a memorial collage of you and your pet!
A great way to put your creativity to work is by creating a collage of memories using an artboard or framed board to keep your memories. You can display your finished artboard on the wall or in a dedicated space in their honor.
Another alternative is to get a scrapbook and keep a collection of your photo memories as a keepsake. Here are few example ideas.
I must confess when I used to visit the craft store in person to restock on paint supplies, I would always find myself drifting to explore the beading idle. So many colors, sizes, and textures oh my!
Creating your own jewelry or beadwork is a skill that I have yet to try but it is not so common, therefore it was a great option to add to this list.
With beadwork, you can make your own creations or if you are a beginner or need inspiration, there are self-help tools and kits to get you started.
See an example below.
Try Painting by numbers
Lastly, paint by numbers is a great option for both beginners and experienced artists. If you are flexible and willing to try something new, you can choose from a variety of options. Paint by numbers kits come in many themes including vintage cars, landscapes, animals, and more.
Or if you prefer to try paint by numbers and memorialize your pet, you can order a custom paint by numbers kit. A great resource to try is Winnie’s Picks. I shared with you my honest experience with paint by numbers in my last blog post. If you missed that post, be sure to check it out here. This is a great way to try something new, have fun, and decompress simultaneously.
Below is a picture of my finished paint by number project. It turned out great! This one is called abstract and modern colorful cat.
These are 9 art therapy ideas for grieving pet parents. I have personally tried most of these tips and I have had a positive experience. Art therapy is a positive and constructive way to channel your grief through creative mediums. It’s just one of many tools you can use to help guide you on the path to healing.
Have you tried any of these ideas for yourself? How are you learning to cope with grief after losing a pet? Do you like arts and crafts? Or do you prefer alternative ways to deal with loss?
Share your thoughts in the comments. Don’t forget to share this post with a friend.
If you are looking for other ways to help heal your heart, check out my other helpful posts below.