Sadness & Sorrow – The Impact of Heartbreak

By the end of the morning I was in tears. It was a hard morning for most of us as the women at The Lighthouse, a Christian residential treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse, drew images of their past sadness and sorrow. So many losses, so many regrets. I was struck by how many of the stories anchored in image had to do with children.

Amy’s picture of past sorrow was simply a tombstone drawn in the lower right corner. When I invited her to tell the story of her picture she said her mother had died when she was nine. Her world collapsed. That was when she began drinking and doing drugs, running away, and being openly rebellious. At nine! My heart ached for so much loss at such a tender age.

Lisa’s image of sadness and sorrow was a page filled with colorful dots surrounding a large black circle. Intended to easy the pain of being unable to control life and its impact on her autistic son, those dots presented the pills that sucked her into the black hole of addition. A mother wanting so much for a child in need, yet unable to make it happen. Another heartbreak.

Because of a previous felony conviction for child endangerment, another young woman will give birth to a meth baby next month which will go immediately into foster care if the baby’s father doesn’t pass his background check.  Lots of black marks of anguish on her paper along with tears. How does one bear the knowledge of knowing the baby growing inside you will be taken away at birth? Suffering the consequences of so much chaos at such a young age is heartbreaking.

The picture that took my breath away was created by the other Amy in the group. It was a beautifully rendered image of a ripely pregnant nude with a black hole where a heart should be. At seven and a half months, her son began to struggle in the womb and died before she could give birth. She nearly hemmoraghed to death in the process.  Prior to that she didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs, she ate organic foods and lived a clean life. As she said, she did everything right. Out of her heartbreak, in an effort to ease her pain, she was swept into a sea of substance abuse for the next nine years. I was in tears by time she finished sharing her picture.

Her loss had touched my loss – the second trimester premature delivery of a stillborn baby girl over four decades ago. While my life had not spiraled out of control with drugs and alcohol, it was substantially impacted. Having enrolled in a summer school art class at the University of Maryland, I was dismayed that all my art was dark or muddy. Not realizing that I was deeply depressed by the loss of my first child, I made the decision that I had neither the gift nor the passion to pursue art as a profession. Over time I pursued other avenues of interest – directing a hospice, enjoying a career as a marriage and family therapist. and training as a spiritual director. I don’t regret the direction my life took. I believe those things added invaluable texture to my life when God called me to a life as an artist thirty-two years later. A decision made out of heartbreak had been restored to me as my heart’s desire. To say I am grateful is an understatement.

I am also deeply grateful to the women at The Lighthouse who have trusted me to companion them on the journey of their recovery and healing. My hope for healing and wholeness in their lives is ever present.

What would your picture of sadness and sorrow look like if you were to draw it? How have sadness and sorrow impacted your life? Did you make life-changing decisions because of them? Do you have life decisions you might want to reconsider? Do you have a story of a heartbreak healed?

I’d love to hear what you have to say! Thanks to all who post comments on the blog or email me. Your comments enrich me.

PS – Click Grief to read about the image above on a related page included in my spiritual autobiography. 

3 comments to Sadness & Sorrow – The Impact of Heartbreak

  • Mary Rose Betten

    lynne thank you for the work you do with images. I will close my computer and pray for your continued strength to help these children of God. M.R.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    My immediate vision is of one frequently used in “James Bond” ‘ish movies where in the bottom suddenly falls out from beneath someone. My reaction has often been to try to establish my own new foundation, in a fear of never having a foundation again. A picture if I were to draw one, would be of someone dropping me down a laundry shoot.

  • "Karinski"

    Mine would be of a woman’s nude body, but without the parts, scars all over the torso, and a sign, written across the stomach, that says “Out of order”.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>