2016 was a hard year for me and my family. It marked the end of my dad's Alzheimer's Journey when he passed away on August 2, 2016.
With a few months of distance it's interesting to reflect on the past year and the things I've learned.
If I had to draw it, it would look like the letter U – the descent being the last months of watching my dad deteriorate and figuring out how to support and stay connected to him, how to support my mom who was losing her best friend and husband of 54 years and how to navigate the personal grief and loss.
The bottom of the U would be August through October – the initial loss and figuring out what life's new-normal looked like.
The ascent, or coming out of this stage of our lives, began in November when my mom, sister, brother and I went to London for a week – my dad's final request. He wasn't from England but always loved the country and all the history of Astronomy that was there.
I'm usually not a New Year's Resolution person or a person who decides everything will be different with the changing of the calendar from December to January. But this year was a little different…
By closing the book on 2016 and starting 2017 I wanted to start fresh. It was time to come out of the fog and find my footing.
Once again I have discovered that I'm a “happy artist” – I'm creative and inspired when I'm happy. 2016 was honestly the least productive new-art year I've had since I started my business. I'm happy to report that the inspiration is again flowing and I'm excited to be playing with some new styles and designs for the art licensing market.
I started my business in the throes of divorce in 2004. I remember a friend saying, “I can't wait to see what you create! Everyone knows the best artists are those that are suffering or have mental health issues…” Maybe that applies to some of the classics like VanGogh but it certainly doesn't hold true for me!
Grief has no timeline – everyone's process is different. I thought it would be easier than it has been since I had been pre-grieving the loss of my dad for over 5 years… it hasn't proven to be the case. As I did through the Alzheimer's Journey, I'm being kind to myself and doing my best to be patient with the process. (Patience isn't always my #1 virtue!)
I'm picking up my paintbrushes and dusting myself off. Let's see what comes in the year ahead!
– Tara Reed
P.S. If you want to learn more about my dad and his passing, click here to read my blog post on my Pivot to Happy website that helps families dealing with dementia and Alzheimer's.