Dealing With Sorrow....Creatively

can you drink this cup creativity diana gruver five ways to cultivate the creative life henri nouwen richard rohr sorrow May 31, 2023

By Carol Woolum Roberts

Paul and I are studying a book titled “Can You Drink This Cup?” by Henri Nouwen, with a couple we meet with on a regular basis, and last weekend the chapter was titled “The Cup of Sorrow”.

I came away from reading and discussing this chapter with this thought. We need to identify the sorrows in our lives, or, more personally, I need to identify the sorrows in my life and let my family, my friends and The Creator and my faith community help me deal with those sorrows.

I looked at the Five Ways to Cultivate the Creative Life that Paul and I use as we work with people about expanding their creativity.  Can these five ways help me deal with my sorrow?  Let’s see if it works.

  1. Sowing Seeds. I can journal about my sorrow.  Sometimes I may not know what my sorrow is, and journaling and writing about it can help identify a sorrow in my life.  Writing can also help unearth a sorrow that is not even on my radar.  Once I identify a sorry, then I can write about how I feel.  I can also examine how sorrow affects my daily life.  What words do the sorrow drop in my heart?
  2. Creative Rendezvous. Should I take some time to play to deal with my sorrow?  Yes!  I think that little artist child inside of me needs some play time to bring out parts of the sorrow that may be hidden.  This may be in drawing, painting, doll making (I have used doll making to deal with sorrow many times), sculpting, planting flowers, reading, writing, playing or listening to music.  There can be many ways to express sorrow through play.
  3. Weekly Awareness. Take a walk. No dog. No phone. It needs to be just my feet and me.  As I walk, I need to observe the world around me.  Take time to listen to the sorrow and see how the sorrow speaks to me.    Then document what I heard to help me remember.
  4. Connecting with the Creator. For me, reading the Bible helps.  Reading the words of others who have known sorrow helps me know I am not alone.  I receive a daily email called “Richard Rohr Daily Meditation”.  On May 25 the top was “Finding Hope in the Depths of Depression”.  Diana Gruver writes about finding solace and hope through others who share their experiences.  She shared the story of Jesus crying out in Matthew 27:45-46:

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus was quoting Psalm 23, the spirituals of His people.  He was in pain and began to sing.  In my sanctified imagination, I see the people at the foot of the cross, joining him as we do today, in my faith community, slowly at first, one voice, then another, humming, then forming words—

“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,

a long way from home…”.

Stay in a spiritual long enough, you’ll hear God, you’ll feel hope.  In the depth of depression, I can think of no greater spiritual gift.”

After reading about spirituals, that led me to look at Gospel Blues songs.  Gospel Blues, like spirituals, like the Psalms, are another way to deal with sorrow.  It is a way The Creator works through us to create a song, poem or story that can be collectively sung or read together to help with the healing process.

5. This leads us into Creative Community. The community of others we can read, look at, talk to, sing with—all creative acts we can do together to help with our sorrow.  Taking the first step in sharing, in whatever manner it may be, may be the first and scariest step.  We need to find our people who we feel safe to share our sorrow. It may be in person, or it may be online. Making a connection with people who make you feel safe is a step in the right direction.


Have you created something to help process sorrow in your life?  Share your experience with our community.

To leave a comment on our blog, you can use Disqus.  It is easy to sign up.  You can use Google, Facebook, Twitter or your email.  There is no cost.  Just put in your name and email address and create a password.  Then confirm your account with the email they send you.  Then you can use Disqus to comment on the blog.  We would love to hear your thoughts.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Subscribe to our email list to receive the latest news and updates from Paul and Carol about Grow Me A Story.

Make sure you confirm your subscription in the email we send to you.

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.