Patients & Families

Journaling Your Grief

Writing About Your Grief Journey

The Benefits of Journaling
1. Journaling is a good way to work through your thoughts and feelings.
2. The point of journaling is to discover and affirm your true emotions. Grief is not a thought process, so writing about your feelings can help you learn new things about yourself.
3. Journaling is meant to be a helpful experience and a tool for emotional and spiritual growth. Your journal can be and often is self-healing.
4. There are many kinds of journaling. Try different ways of writing about yourself until you find one that is comfortable for you. Your journal can be anything you want it to be. It can be tidy, or sloppy, or free-flowing.
5. Your journal can include letters to your loved one, to a friend, to yourself, or to God. It can be a story, poetry, prayers, or song lyrics, or something else special to you.
6. Don't let worries about spelling, grammar, or punctuation stop your journaling. And don't worry about whether or not anyone else will like what you write. Journaling is for and about you.
7. You can combine your journal with art to further express an emotion or feeling.

Principles of Effective Journaling
1. Be Spontaneous. Follow your gut. Don't second -guess yourself. Write quickly and allow the unexpected to happen.
2. Be Honest. Write about who you really are. Be open about what you really feel, want, and believe. This may be a little frightening at first, but keep writing. You will become more comfortable with your work over time.
3. Write Deeply. Dig deeply into yourself and write about things that really matter to you.
4. Choose an Audience. You may want to write some parts of your journal just for yourself, and other parts for a friend or family member to read.
5. See the Big Picture. Include more than just facts in your journal. Write about how you see things and how you understand what you are experiencing in your grief. Don't worry if your outlook changes from day to day , or moment to moment.
6. Begin Somewhere. Just start writing. Write about yourself at this moment, or about the day you are beginning your journal. Write about what is on your mind, and keep going from there.

Journal Suggestions
1. Use a notebook of your choice, one that expresses your personality. If you are comfortable with the computer, you can create your notebook electronically.
2. Put your saddest feelings into words. Describe the pain you feel in emotional and physical terms.
3. Write about memories that are special to you.
4. Write about your strengths and how they will help you adjust.
5. Set some goals for yourself in your grief and record your progress.
6. As you are able, write goodbyes to plans or dreams that you know will never be realities.
7. Write about ways your missing loved one brought joy and fulfillment to your life. Express gratitude for those contributions.
8. Dream about your future and write down some of those dreams.
9. Read your journal entries aloud regularly. to yourself or to someone you trust.
10. Journaling brings tears. Let them fall.
11. Write down things you do that make you happy and affirm yourself for your ability to feel joy.
12. Stop journaling whenever you wish. Don't let your writing take the place of people in your life. COntinue to talk with people you trust about your grief, sharing your good days and your bad days. This is your living journal.

 

 


Adapted from Larry Yeagley, Conducting Grief Recovery Seminars. Charlotte, MI, 2000;
Charlotte Greeson, Mary Hollingsworth, Michael Washburn, The Grief Adjustment Guide: A Pathway Through Pain. Sisters, OR: Questar Publishers, 1990;
H. Norman Wright, Recovering From The Losses of Life, Grand Rapids. MI: RevelI Publishing, 2000; Tristine Rainer, The New Diary. Los Angeles: J. P Tarcher, Inc., 1978