Writing is a simple, yet powerful way to begin working through your grief.
You will find that journaling helps to relieve some of the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that you are experiencing. Writing will help you work through many issues that may be difficult to communicate in other ways:
- It is very personal and confidential – no one needs to see your writings unless you specifically permit them to do so.
- It is easy to do spontaneously.
- It does not require making complicated plans and can be accomplished at the moment while your feelings and needs are strongest, even when you wake up at three o’clock in the morning.
Who are you writing for?
Even though you intellectually know that it is for you and you alone, all of your prior experiences have conditioned you differently. During school years we always wrote for others to see and usually judge, correct and grade. We have all written letters for others to read. Nearly all of our prior writing has been to communicate with others.
Journal writing is different; it is only for you to read.
While this sounds like such an obvious statement, you may be surprised at the difficulty in granting yourself permission to write freely without ANY editorial judgment. As you progress in your writing, you will find that you are able to overcome the mind set that you are writing for others and will concentrate on fully serving your need for expression.
Since you are writing for yourself only, you do not need to feel the pressure of perfection. You can use an old wide-lined school notebook or an expensive moleskin journal, and you can permit yourself to be as sloppy or neat as your wish. Forget erasers; it is quicker, easier, and more spontaneous to cross out words. Furthermore, there are no errors when writing for yourself – merely thoughts you wish to re-read and those you want to skip. Rather than erasing or tearing out pages in order to obliterate, try putting a big X through a page or crossing out a phrase. Pay attention to those thoughts you are inclined to remove. Often they are a rich source of issues you need to work through in order to complete your grief work. For this reason, we suggest a permanently bound notebook rather than a spiral bound or loose-leaf book.
Set a time limit.
Start with five or ten minutes, and write everything which comes to mind, no matter how unconnected, scattered, or inane it may seem. It doesn’t matter that your thoughts aren’t composed sentences or paragraphs. You will capture whatever though or image comes to mind. You are merely beginning to document your internal dialogue. You just have to be able to write fast enough to keep up with your mental activity. If your thoughts lead you to a particular issue, elaborate on it. When the allotted time has passed, you may chose to continue writing or allow yourself to stop for the day and start again fresh the next.
You will surprise yourself at how quickly you have developed a new tool for making progress with your grief. With the mechanics of writing now a comfortable routine, you will grow more focused.
In grief work, we are frequently writing for one or more of the following reasons:
- To capture our experience or progress
- To confront an issue
- To vent, explore or express a feeling or emotion
- To connect
- To atone
- To preserve a thought
- To memorialize loss
While few people feel they want to share everything they have written, there is frequently therapeutic value in sharing some of what you write. You may discover through your journal entries parts of yourself that you want to share. You are under no obligation, however, to ever make your writings public, if you do not wish to do so.
If writing has always been easy and comfortable, please continue to do it. IF this is all new to you, please be patient and continue to work through it, as it can be a very useful tool which will serve you well.
Extracted from the THA Group Island Hospice Bereavement Packet