Some of the greatest songs and stories are created by artists who have suffered a major loss or break up. They channel all that pain, frustration, anger, confusion, disbelief, and sorrow into their creations, and we embrace those songs and stories because they speak to our suffering too.

Other artists, when faced with heartbreak, drop their art for a while as they work through their pain. It’s sometimes years before they pick up a pen or paintbrush or instrument again.

Some artists create work just for themselves in order to process their sadness. They scribble furiously in journals or create sculptures they then destroy or write songs they crumple up and throw away. Their pain is private, but their art is still the best way to express it.

There is no right way to grieve, not even for artists. Whatever route you take, don’t judge it. Trust you are where you need to be.

Be curious, though, because that is the strength of the artist. Don’t run from the pain or anger or frustration, ask yourself why you are feeling it and how it is changing you. Try to understand why others might be feeling pain too or why they are not. Let your thoughts flow. Don’t stop them. They may take you to some dark places or to places that feel much lighter than you would have expected. Don’t feel guilty either way. Stay in those thoughts for a while. Feel into them. Notice every emotion and wonder what it is telling you and where it might take you.

And when you are ready, pick up the tools of your trade and get back to your art. In times of trouble, people need artists. We create those spaces where their own pain and worry and sadness can rest, and where their broken hearts can hope again. We don’t have the answers, but we know how to pose the questions. And those questions start within us.