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A painting of Clare Jackman, torn in sections with painted images

My Story

 “Life tries to crush her, but only succeeded in making a diamond.” – John Green

In 2017 my whole world came crashing down when my beloved husband Cliff, had a sudden fatal heart attack, at home with me, the night before my 49th Birthday. 


This was the most surreal and painful time of my life, and one I really didn't think I would survive to begin with. Looking back now I realise I spent most of the following few months in shock and dissociation, (the brain and body's way of protecting us from overwhelming traumatic events).  


Thankfully I had a good knowledge and understanding of the effects of trauma and loss, having spent many years working in trauma informed care and education with children and young people, this knowledge helped me to understand what I was experiencing, and the best coping strategies to put in place.

Clare Jackman standing next to a painting she did of her husband

"I knew I had to feel it to heal it"

I knew I had to "feel it to heal it", and that avoiding my grief would only prolong the suffering. 


To begin with I was in survival mode, getting through each day as best I could, then a few months went by and I had the opportunity to join a portrait class at 'Reach out with Arts in Mind', which is a local charity helping people who are struggling with their mental wellbeing through art. For me this was the start of my healing journey. I had studied Art and Design after I left school, I have a degree in fashion design, and worked as a designer for many years, however I hadn't really painted for me for a long time.


I painted a portrait (pictured here), of my late husband and it was as if I was bringing him back to life, I felt so connected to him, it was just wonderful and so healing. I spent several weeks attending these classes and could feel myself improving each week. I began other paintings, all based on my love and loss, and also started writing and poetry. It was so cathartic to have a way to express myself and I  suppose in a way was somewhere for all my love and pain to go.

A painting Clare Jackman did of Stuart

"Within four years I had seen the two men I adored and loved most in the world die in front of me"

After about seven months of losing Cliff, I was lucky enough to be reunited with my first boyfriend from school, we hadn't seen each other for 34 years, but the chemistry was stronger than ever and before I knew it we were in a whirlwind romance.


Sadly Stuart had pancreatic cancer, however I convinced myself he was going to be a miracle and survive, as he was doing so well and was so spirited.  We had a wonderful couple of years together until the cancer took over, then the last 15 months were so sad and tough to experience. Sadly Stuart died 16 days before the 4th anniversary of Cliff dying. His mum and I were with him at home when he took his last breath.


Within four  years I had seen the two men I adored and loved most in the world die in front of me. Once again I was swallowed up by the pain of grief and traumatised by what I had witnessed.


Almost immediately after Stuarts death I began painting, but this time I was painting out my memories of Stuart's last few hours which were haunting me. The more I painted out what was inside of me, the less night terrors and traumatic memories I had. It was the most cathartic and healing experience. I painted several paintings, one on top of another, each one less horrific than the last, until I was ready to paint a happy painting of Stuart (pictured here)  

"I knew I had to make some changes and almost felt that this was the universe telling me to change."

A painting of Clare Jackman with words and pictures of what she learned on her course

A couple of months after Stuart died, I also lost a good friend very suddenly on New Year's Eve, she was only 46 and had a sudden heart attack after a night with some friends and I.  This really shook me, and I convinced myself it was my fault for a while, thinking that I was a jinx and everyone I loved died. Although this was almost the final straw for me, it also gave me a jolt to look at my own life and lifestyle. I knew I had to make some changes and almost felt that this was the universe telling me to change.

I began living a healthier lifestyle, left my job, and was determined to train to help others through art, which was something I had wanted to do for a long time. I began the 'Holistic Integrated Creative Arts Therapy'  diploma course, which was exactly what I needed. It combined meditation, movement, art, sand play, sound therapy, music therapy and other creative modalities and holistic counselling.  This was hugely therapeutic for me, as well as learning and gaining the qualification.

I found meditation and yoga so healing, and joined a yoga class. I started taking better care of me through regular holistic therapies such as Reiki, massage, sound baths, and through these therapies met some amazing, interesting people. 

I also volunteered at 'Reachout with Arts in Mind', helping people struggling with their mental health through art, as well as volunteering at my local theatre, helping with stage sets and props.


I have been on Retreats, gone on my first solo holiday and really stepped out of my comfort zone to grow and heal. I have had counselling, worked really hard on healing me, going inwards, meditating and spending time on my own getting to know me again.

Last year I set up a Facebook site called 'Widowed in Scotland', which is growing fast and offers a space for widows and widowers living in Scotland, to support each other and we occasionally meet up. I have also been interviewed by 'The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland', as well as 'The Widow Podcast', speaking about my story.

Clare Jackman holding her certificate in Holistic Integrated Creative Arts Therapies

​"I now feel so aligned, balanced and empowered"

I now feel so aligned, balanced and empowered. This is a never ending journey and I am continuing to heal and grow every day.


I am now a qualified 'Holistic Integrated Creative Arts Therapist', and I am also a certified 'Grief movement Guide', which uses yoga based movement, breath and sound to help move the pain of grief and trauma out of the body.


I am so excited to now be able to offer this wide range of holistic, therapeutic treatments to others who are finding life's challenges difficult to cope with.


The qualifications I have gained, combined with my own experiences, as well as many years working therapeutically with children and young people and their carers, have provided me with a wealth of knowledge, experience and empathy to be able to offer the most nurturing,  person-centred service you could hope for. ​

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