Journaling the Journey
Writing when facing a deeply painful and emotional loss journaling is one of the best ways to sort through the complex mix of confusing emotions. There are no rules to keeping a journal, but here are some options to consider when making the decision if keeping journal would be helpful to you.
Only 15 minutes a day, 4 days a week will help release some of the endlessly confusing and conflicting emotions. Pick a writing medium that works for you — both pen and paper — or a computer or tablet. You should feel comfortable and compelled to write at least 4 times per week. There are also on-line journals where, if you wish to share, you are able to share through applications such as www.livejournal.com and www.jrnl.com.
Try writing a few words that describe your emotions at the beginning and end of every writing session. This can serve to track your feelings over time, especially if you feel like you are sinking or spinning out of control.
- Often, getting those words on paper help you to understand your feelings so that you can process them.
- Even if it is painful, try to write both the good memories of your loved one and if you need to, do not be afraid to write your regrets or feelings of anger or sadness.
- Writing poems can be helpful because the dual process of getting your thoughts on paper and constructing the poem can be very healing and inspirational. Let your feelings flow and you will be surprised at how beautiful the words will become to you.
- Even though it is hard to conceive that we could be grateful in the wake of our grief, practicing gratitude is a good way to help take away that sinking feeling. Take time to list the qualities of your loved one for which you are grateful. When panic sets in and you feel hopeless, go back and read your journal entries so that you can reinforce the circle of gratitude.
- Going public with your journal can also lead to healing and can help to memorialize your loved one as well as inspire others. Some favorites such as www.wordpress.org and www.blogger.com provide the ability for sharing online. You can also consider joining one or more of the many Facebook groups where you will find people at various stages of their grief journey.
I had the opportunity to attend an excellent workshop on grief techniques led by Dr. Robert Neimeyer, author of multiple books on grief and bereavement. On an on-line grief support website, www.aftertalk.com, Dr. Neimeyer hosts a page “Ask Dr. Neimeyer” which provides multiple resources for support include the ability to ask your questions about your own personal journey.