Through the use of art-making, discussion, reflections, and relationship building, art therapists support individuals in a variety of life struggles, helping draw out – sometimes both figuratively and literally –deep-rooted feelings or stories that often can be challenging to express otherwise. This is especially true in processing grief and trauma, yetart therapy can also be a means of developing of coping skills, increasing self-awareness, strengthening self-esteem, managing stress, andengaging in a positive social interaction. All of these are useful tools in addressing the comprehensive work of rebuilding one’s lifefollowing a devastating experience of loss. This adaptive, healing strength found in creative expression often results in a meaning-making process that transforms into emotional wellness.
In recent years our country has been increasingly affected by this tragic epidemic, and not surprisingly, our Center has been supporting a great deal of these bereaved families. The numbers are staggering: according to the CDC, more than 5000 teenagers attempt suicide each day, making it the second leading cause of death, behind accidents. Almost 90% of teen suicides are attributable to a diagnosable and potentially treatable mental illness. Four out of five of these teens give clear warning signs, but not all.
Guess what? It depends! Clearly your response to someone crying has much to do with the relationship or level of intimacy with that person. However, given that, some supportive gestures are encouraged and some are definite no-no’s! In general, no matter what the relationship, doing or saying nothing is not a good idea as this can often make the crier feel worse. Don’t ever assume you know how to comfort someone, especially someone you don’t know well. For example, some criers welcome physical touch such as a pat on the shoulder or a hug and others may find it intrusive. The less intimate the relationship, the more it is appropriate to ask if or how the person would like to be helped.
In fact, if you have no idea what to say, it’s okay to be honest and forthright about that and say something simple like “I’m here for you.”