An Artist's Lessons on Loss for Healthy Survivors

An essay by an artist who lost her work in the flood caused by Hurricane Harvey offers lessons for Healthy Survivors.

Avesheh Mosinen thought she'd protected her artwork by moving everything to high shelves before the rains began. In Harvey Ruined Years of My Art: The Ruins are Beautiful, she describes how "It was surreal to see everything destroyed – but also beautiful to be reminded of happy times."

As the crew looked on with pity, she found it "sad and heartbreaking to see packs of photographs, handwritten letters and my memories stuck together in contaminated fluid. In a state of mourning, I started frantically taking photos of what was visible and salvageable."

Her initial emotions were a sense of loss, then guilt and regret for not protecting her art better, then anger at moving near a bayou. Then she noticed how the chemicals from the artwork and floodwaters "had created new  images...The abstract and washed-out images had transformed into beautiful visuals that spoke of loss, but also of happiness."

With that vision, her sadness, guilt and anger transformed into appreciation, gratitude and healing. She thought, "If these objects could resurrect themselves, why couldn't I?" The salvaged art spoke to her: "No matter how...devastating a situation is, you can try to find something to hang onto and gain hope."

Healthy Survivors grieve their losses, so they can accept how their world has changed and move on. With hope, they create a new normal that sets the stage for happiness.

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