Give Yourself an Outlet for Your Grief
I recently lost my grandmother to cancer after a six-year battle. She was such a strong, special, thoughtful woman– the matriarch of our family and no words here can describe the loss or what she meant to us. We all handle death and mourning in our own ways, and I turned to writing. Grief journaling is a powerful technique for healing after a loss. It is helping me handle and explore my emotions, and it can help you as well.
First, I’d like to mention that there is no right or wrong way to grieve or to journal about it. Use the techniques that work for you; I offer only advice. Grief journaling is an outlet for your emotions during the mourning process.
To begin, take a 15-minute session to free-write about your feelings and your thought-process while considering your recent loss. You should free-write as much as possible as free-writing mimics the natural emotions that come with grief which are often unfocused and change quickly. Try to ignore grammar and organization, and just write what you feel. You should also consider limiting your writing sessions to 15-minutes or less. Psychologists believe that shorter bouts of writing are just as effective as longer sessions, and the shorter time will prevent you from repetition and spiraling.
Writing in a grief journal is not a one-time experience. To be most effective, it should be accomplished over a period of time. Try to do it daily for as long as you feel the need. As you process grief, your writing will change. Allow yourself to progress through the stages, using journaling as your outlet.
Grief journaling is also a private process. Letting others read your grief journal is discouraged. While your grief may inspire you to write stories or poetry that you wish to share, grief journaling is more raw. You need to be able to write without fear of judgement or what others may think. This is about your deepest truths. Overall, grief journaling is about writing, not reading. It’s best if you don’t spend time reading or sharing what you wrote. Let words and emotions flow out of you onto the page. Do not dwell on them after.
Maybe your mourning is compelling you to write, and maybe you feel as if you can’t get the pen moving. When this happens, come back to these sentence openings: “I feel…”, “I need…”, “I remember…” To help you through the writing process, you can find a photo of your loved one and let it be your inspiration. Photos are a great way to charge your memory. Consider also writing a letter to your loved one. Often, when we lose someone, we feel that there were many things left unsaid. Maybe we did not even get to say goodbye. Writing a letter to the deceased can help to release these feelings.
I am not here to tell you how to grieve, but to help you find a healthy outlet for your emotions through writing. In a time of mourning, writing can be a soul salve for emotional pain.
No matter what, give yourself time to heal and an outlet for that healing.