365 Days: In the Mourning

Regina Wahl in Osnabrueck, Germany is creating daily as a way to think about grief and loss in her project 365 Days: In the Mourning...

Why did you decide to do this project? It was the final day of my second Creative Sprint in October 2017. This time, I stayed relaxed and optimistic throughout the whole challenge. And this gave me the courage to do a yearlong project inspired by Noah Scalin's book 365: A Daily Creativity Journal.

People who know me weren't surprised when they heard about the theme I chose for my project. Last year I saw a printed shirt with this sentence on it: I am a mourning person. This is so right! I am a mourning person (to be honest I think everyone is). I think I always was. I cannot count the things, places, dreams and of course people that I lost in my life so far. And since I was a young girl I am interested in death and grief and their effects on people and relationships and systems. I know, this sometimes seems like a very scientific view...this is a part of my coping strategy I think: Trying to understand the incomprehensible, trying to stay in control,...all these things.

However, I always tried to not stay detached but to get closer to my own grief and to the grief of others. Two years ago I became a qualified grief counselor. I am a hospice volunteer. I made a lot of good and appreciative friends in the field of grief counseling and hospice care. It is a very supporting and caring community (like the Creative Sprinters!). I am very grateful to get to know a lot of wonderful people coping with loss. And if there is one thing I learned in recent years: Mourning and grieving and coping with loss is an art itself and we are all raw beginners...

This is my way to learn something about life. This is my way to live one year with eyes and arms and heart wide open.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life?  I learned a lot of things during the last months. The most important thing I learned is: There is always an idea! I feel very confident for the last couple of months that good ideas are always on hand. So far I never panicked that I can´t find anything to do.

At the beginning of this journey, I thought I´ll stick to the daily inspirations in the book for a while, see where it leads me from there and maybe work on my own prompts. But after a few weeks I learned to enjoy the daily prompts from Noah's book as what they are: on the one hand I don´t have to think about a new technique or material to work with every day. On the other hand, I am forced to leave my comfort zone and try new things – which I probably wouldn't do that often if I would have to think about something on my own (I would probably paint with water colour or pencils every day ;-)

That said, I really try to not be super rational about the prompts and projects and to avoid planning the prompts in advance (which is really hard, I love making lists and staying in control): Head AND heart AND hands and all that. But sometimes I concede myself a day of rationalizing and working with techniques and materials I am comfortable with – it´s all about balance, right?

I also learned to not have to be 100% satisfied with the outcome to post a picture of my art. I like that there is always the next day to make something better or more pointed or wittier… And that my English in the caption of a picture doesn´t have to be perfect to be understood.

During the last months I also became more courageous: Not only in terms of techniques, but also about the themes of my daily projects: Grief and death is not nice and proper and I feel it is quite liberating to share my rage and the ugly or tabooed things, too.

Well, and sometimes it is hard: The people close to me (my family and close friends) read and look at the things I do every day. And my grief is often their grief (I lost my grandparents, my parents lost their mums and dads…), which sometimes makes it very difficult for me to express what I feel: I know when they see my project, it makes them sad, too. But it is also a new way to talk about our grief! One day I draw a picture of my great aunt with soap on the mirror and captured it with “I am thinking of her so often these days!” and when my mum saw the picture, she told me: “I am also thinking a lot about her lately - I didn't know it is the same for you!”

Finally I want to share, that currently I enjoy doing the daily projects just for me. And this took me and everyone else by surprise. When I first started the “365 Days: In the Mourning”-Project my friends and family asked me: “Are you going to collaborate with others?”, “Are you going to involve people?”, “Are you planning an exhibition at the end of it?”,… And I was sure, I would do that, being sometimes very driven and a real limelight hog when it comes to doing the things I like to do and talking about the topics I am interested in. But up to today I have no need to show my art on a grand scale or to go public…And I think part of it is, that I stopped demanding such high standards of myself, which is great progress for me and took all pressure off. However, let´s see where this leads to and what other surprises are around the corner!

See all of Regina's project on Instagram at @365.days.in.the.mourning and on her site HERE.

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