Art Healing Tragedy; Reflections from NYC

I love art for the way it helps heals us after tragedy. When the sheer facts are overwhelming, creative avenues may open up to keep us from despair.

Ten years ago when I was on the bus in Manhattan on my way to work, the unthinkable happened here. And in the aftermath, I was among those rushing away from the city we loved, terrified. When I got home after walking for hours, I made a hasty line drawing of angry eagles taking flight from the tops of high rise buildings and descending on the world far away, with people below crying and looking up to the sky – after I was done I realized it looked something like La Guernica, and that I thought a war was coming and I was afraid of that, and ashamed of it coming from us here.

Not long after, my daughters put on a play for me at home that they enacted based on a comic that appeared in a popular news journal. They held up a drawing of a map and a news headline, and using a staff to point from the Q in the word Iraq, to the Q in the word, Al Qaeda, they acted out a fictional news broadcast. It explained the reason the US was going to war, in Iraq. It was the Q’s that the two words had in common. The girls were young, 8 and 11 at the time, and it seemed that creating the short play and acting it out helped them.

In both scenarios, the drawing and acting out the play, art allowed us a path to communicate with each other about the fear and the confusion. Did the tragedy make sense afterwards? Not much, but at least we got to say that to each other. Art helped us to communicate and that alone is a step toward healing.

Has creativity helped you overcome tragedy, through art, music or writing?

Please leave a comment to share your experiences and views with readers. I’ll look forward to hearing from you here.

Related links: you may also be interested in Short Stories “Death and the Dream” available at and book retailers world wide, as print and ebook editions.

10 responses to “Art Healing Tragedy; Reflections from NYC”

  1. Sometimes, the only relief from sorrow, pain, anguish is escaping into writing–mine or someone else’s. Something that removes me from my current maelstrom and lets me see a different world.


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