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Grief Heart Pain Activity

Dealing with grief heart pain is something that I struggle with a lot. And if you are visiting this site because you have had significant loss in your life, then you probably understand exactly what I mean. Grief shows up in various places in our bodies but I think we can all agree that the heart is often one place where it’s affected the most. For some people, it may actually manifest in a physical sense.

For me, it mostly feels like a dull ache somewhere in my chest. There are times I can forget about it, usually when I’m doing something like art or writing. Other distractions like movies or organizing something can keep my focus somewhere else for awhile, too. I usually feel it when triggered, which unfortunately, is a lot. Most of my triggers are just an ongoing loneliness, I think, because the people that would have been most interested in me and my kids are not here anymore. My heart often feels like an island, drifting along somewhere in the middle of a vast ocean. Hmm…that might make an interesting painting or art journal page, now that I think about it.

But anyway, what does grief do to your heart? That’s where this next activity comes in. It’s a simple, easy way to just tune into you and your emotions and how they are affecting the center of your soul.


Sometimes, it’s difficult to put intense feelings and emotions into words. You may not be able to explain how you’re feeling in this moment to others. You may not even know exactly what they are yourself. That’s where this heart activity can help voice your inner state, no matter what it may be. And it will not only help you understand yourself a little better, but it can also provide a voice to help others understand as well.

You don’t have to feel only grief to do this activity either. You may actually feel just fine today. Our thoughts and emotions fluctuate and some days are better than others. That’s life in general, right? The main purpose of doing this actitivity is really just about meditating on you. To pull the focus off the rest of the world and trying to keep up with it and bring it gently back to what you may be experiencing in the present moment.


  • Construction paper (color of your choice)
  • Scissors
  • Colored pencils, markers, pastels, etc…
  • Old magazines
  • Stencils and/or stickers
  • Glue, tape


YouTube player

I’ve made a video of this activity if you would rather see it than just reading the instructions below. You can see how I made a heart that reflected my inner state at the time.

  1. First, choose your paper. You can go with the standard red or pink or if that’s not speaking to you, choose the color that is. I am choosing blue today because that’s how I am feeling.
  2. Next, cut out your heart. You can freehand it if you want or you can do this old trick usually used in elementary schools for Valentine’s Day…fold it in half, draw half a heart then cut it out. This makes your heart perfectly symetrical.
  3. Next, take some scrap paper and brainstorm a few ideas for your heart before you begin. If you want, you are welcome to dive straight into it but for others, you may need to stop and think about what exactly grief is doing to your heart right now. Be as raw as you want. There is no judgment here. You can write words, you can write images that come to mind, you can write sounds, whatever you want. Note: feel free to write down both good and bad. Grief is not always about only sadness, there can be love and fondness and chocolate cake, for example.
  4. So, next, I’m going to think about how I want to express that on my heart. Do I want pictures, do I want to just write these things inside, do I want to print off something instead and paste inside? Do I want stickers? Do I want to be extra decorative? Do I want it to be messy? You can go back and consult your brainstorming list, circle some that stand out to you. What is it I want to show the most? Again, it’s all about you and your heart.
  5. To illustrate your heart: use your markers, pencils, old magazines, whatever is calling you. And you can add to your heart as you see fit. Just because you made a brainstorming list at the beginning does not obligate you to stick strictly to it. So, if something else comes to mind while you are working and you want to add or subtract, do it. The point of an activity like this is to capture your inner workings in the moment.

My Heart

So for my heart, I ripped it up then taped it back together before illustrating it. If you watch the video, you can see me doing that. I chose a blue heart because at the time of this activity, I was feeling kind of bad. So, I have clouds, an icy landscape and overall, a sense of isolation. I drew more broken areas in red. I cut out a tyrannosaurus rex from a magazine to represent the anger I often feel. I also found this little grim reaper because he’s been hanging out in my family a lot these past few years.

But I also put some good things on here, because my heart is not only occupied by grief and loneliness. I like owls because they’re quiet and mysterious and magical feeling. I like purple flowers, books and classical music. I’ve got my art represented with a paint palette. And I also wrote down some words of things that bring me some measure of peace at times such as popcorn, ice cream and cookie dough. I also wrote down my daughter’s name, Charlotte, because recently she said something really kind to me on a day that I was especially blue. She said that I was her favorite person in the whole world.

Below, I’m also including a couple of other heart examples done through this activity at home.


You can show anyone your finished heart, or keep it entirely to yourself of course. But it can be a very insightful way of explaining to others as well as yourself what you’re going through. Good people to show it to might your therapist or support group if you’re doing that. Or friends or family that you feel comfortable with. Whoever is your current “support system” is best for sharing activities like these.

But, I hope you found some benefit in this activity. You’re welcome to send me an image of your finished heart at my email: if you’d like to share it with me. I’d be happy to see it and send you some words of support and encouragement. As I like to remind my visitors, there is no judgement here. Grief can be a complicated, messy beast and I’m sorry you have to go through it at all.

As always, take good care of you and your heart,


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