After my son died, I spent a lot of time journaling about my grief. I poured my son’s story into a journal, and along with all those hard memories, I wrote about the crazy emotions that went with losing him. These were not words that I would share with the world. They were too raw, too transparent, and too messy to be public. These words were for me. And they would be one of the keys for moving forward in my grief.
Grief Journaling: Finding a Safe Place to Share Emotions
I believe that in grief, as well as any other time of loss, you need to have a safe space to share what you’re going through. For some, that might be a counselor’s office. For others, a trusted family member who is willing to lend their ear. Either way, sharing your feelings in a safe place is important for understanding the emotions that you’re going through and finding a way to process them so that you can move forward. You won’t move on from grief; however, learning to move forward means processing your grief in a way that helps you understand your emotions and the daily struggles of living with your grief.
Grief journaling can be a healthy way to process what you’re going through in a safe place and at your worst moments. There are times when our emotions are so raw that it’s difficult to express in words how we’re feeling or even to make sense of our emotions. Grief can literally make you feel like you’re going crazy.
That’s why journaling can be such an effective way of processing what we’re going through. It forces you to slow down to take time to think about what you’re actually feeling. It’s a form of self-expression, but it also requires that you don’t stuff your grief in an emotional closet.
There will be times when the journaling process is hard–when it brings up difficult memories and all those regrets from your past. But if you’re willing to try, grief journaling can be part of the healing process. It can go hand-in-hand with other forms of healing, like seeing a counselor, being part of a grief group, or talking with a friend. All these things are healthy ways to express your emotions and to understand the roller coaster journey you’re on.
How to Begin Grief Journaling
To start, you’ll need a grief journal. If you don’t have one, you can print out my free grief journal that will help you process some of your memories, emotions, and strategies for getting through your grief.
Not sure what to write? Here are are some ideas to get you started in your grief journaling
Ideas for Grief Journaling
1. Quotes and Books
Many people will give you books that are meant to be helpful on the grief journey. If you find a book that has some good quotes regarding grief or loss, this can be a excellent jumping off point for journaling. Start by picking out some quotes that speak to you, copy them down, and have your grief journal close by so that you can start writing down how this quote speaks to you.
- What is it about the quote that stands out?
- How does this help you?
- What emotions does it trigger?
Another resource for grief quotes is Pinterest. I have a grief board on Pinterest, including a grief quotes board. Look for quotes you love and copy them into your journal. If the quotes prompt a memory, write it down. There is no right or wrong way to journal using quotes. The idea is that you are processing your grief and sometimes that involves a quote that inspires you to write more.
Another great resource? Grief journal prompts. If you’re a Pinterest user, you can create your own grief board to collect articles, blogs, quotes and other resources that are useful for your healing journey. Having a grief board allows you to access the materials you need as you’re experiencing a specific part of the grieving process.
The free 7 Day Grief Journal has daily prompts that help you to focus on specific memories of your loved one, as well as ways to move forward.
3. Pictures and Videos
When you’re ready, you may find that looking at pictures or videos can be very therapeutic to the grief process and can also provide a great jumping off point for your journal. When I look at Silas’ pictures, I’m reminded of all the sweet and funny moments I shared with my son. I know that right after he died, I thought that I would never forget these memories, but as time has gone on, I realize that our memories are not perfect. The best thing I can do is try to write down what I remember so that I have these memories contained in a journal for a lifetime.
4. Poetry and Music
For some people, poetry and music can be a touching way to remember a loved one. Whether you decide to write a poem, or collect poems or songs that speak to you, these forms of self-expression touch our emotional side in a different way.
If you’re wondering where to find poetry and music about grief, there are several sources to consider. Besides doing a Google search, you can find poems on Pinterest and Instagram for free (Search #poetry hashtags on Instagram to find new poets).
YouTube has spoken word artists and musicians who share their art online.Music can be a really powerful way to connect with the grief experience. Copying down a few lines from a song or even creating lyrics or poetry–all these things can be a springboard for your journal.
No matter where you are in the grief process, journaling is a great way to process, heal, and grow.
Resources for Grief Journaling
If you want to try out journaling:
Download the free 7 day Grief Journal with daily prompts for grieving. This resource was designed to help get you started on the journaling process and see if it’s helpful for you.
If you’re looking for a journal:
I recommend the Life Worth Living Journal. It’s a fantastic resource that gives you space to share your struggles and your growth, no matter what you’re going through.