Journaling to Cope with Grief and Loss

Published: April 19, 2023

When struggling with loss, it can be difficult for some people to express their feelings. And, over time, unexpressed grief can slow down the grieving process or even hinder healing. In light of these struggles, we would like to recommend a safe and personal way to express your grief: journaling. 

About journaling, Psychology Today states that, “One of the primary benefits of journaling is that it helps relieve stress. A few of its long-term effects including improved immune system functioning, reduced heart rate and blood pressure, improved sleep, and less frequent visits to the doctor for stress-related illnesses.” Emotional benefits of journaling include, “a sense of well-being, and reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and tension.” 

Now that we have disclosed some of the health benefits of journaling, let’s look at the actual practice of journaling. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
1. Choose a Special Journal

Your feelings of grief are precious. They exist because someone you love is either in the process of dying or has already passed. And, just as a breathtaking painting needs to be set off by the perfect frame, your words deserve a distinct venue. 

First, you need to decide what type of journal you want to use. There are two main types of journals: a blank journal and a journal with writing prompts. A blank journal allows for complete creativity! You can buy a journal with lines, bullets, or blank pages. Or, you may find that a writing prompt journal would be helpful. Some examples or writing prompts may include, “The best trip we ever took together was …” “His voice sounded like …” “She baked the best …” and “Today I feel …” 

Journal Options:

Use a journal that belonged to your loved one. It could be blank, or you could be adding     to what they already wrote.

Buy a special journal that expresses, by its appearance, what is in your heart. The book could be your loved one’s favorite color or have a cherished quote or verse displayed on the front cover. 

You can create your own journal

Record your thoughts and feelings, as they come, on your phone, using a notation or diary application.

Type your thoughts on a document via your computer.

2. Choose a Place to Write

Where do you want to use your journal? There may be a set place and time in your home where every day you wish to sit and reflect. Or, you may want to venture out to a favorite park, a place you made memories with your loved one, a cozy coffee shop, or the cemetery. Perhaps you would rather carry the journal with you wherever you go, so that you are able to record thoughts whenever you think them and feelings whenever you feel them. 

3. Remember You are Not Being Graded.

Your journal is a personal place where you can write freely. There is no need to worry about what others may think or say about it. The sky is the limit! You can doodle, write a prayer or a poem, make lists, use bullet points, or write prose. You don’t even have to write in complete sentences, and there will be no grammar police coming check on you. Whatever you feel like writing is game, because this is your journal. And it is for you. 

4. Let Your Journal Be a Place of Healing.

Journals can be a useful tool, allowing you to heal by expressing your thoughts and giving you a window into your heart. When something comes out that you recognize as beautiful, try to share it with someone. Or, you may be surprised, at times, to discover that not all of your entries are positive. If something toxic comes out, such as unprocessed bad memories, you may use this discovery to find help and forgiveness. If you write a poem about your loved one, sharing it with a mutual friend may help both of you as you remember loved one together. 

As always, it is our privilege to be here for you at Hathaway Family Funeral Homes. Feel free to check out our website for other blogs, and you may call us anytime at 1-508-673-0781.

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