Chaplain Julia Rajtar, BCC, MAPS
When was the last time you wrote a letter? Writing a letter to your deceased loved one, is one way bereaved have found valuable in coping with their grief. Some have found that expressing their grief through digital platforms can be beneficial, meanwhile, others have found it meaningful to write in a journal or a letter. Keeping a journal or writing a letter, that only you will read, can also be helpful in the healing journey after a traumatic death of a loved one.
Some research suggests that disclosing deep emotions through writing can boost immune function as well as mood and well-being. Conversely, the stress of holding in strong feelings can ratchet up blood pressure and heart rate and increase muscle tension. Further evidence suggests a link between therapeutic writing and the successful management of traumatic experiences.
Tips For Writing Out Your Grief
How do you write and what do you write? There are a variety of methods to select from. One method is to focus on a memory and write about that. Another option is to write a letter to your loved one, telling them something you didn’t get a chance to say or something new you want to share with them. Another method of writing includes focusing on a grief quote that has meaning for you and writing from that. Selecting a poem or going to the psalms as a source of inspiration can stimulate writing, even writing your own poem can be meaningful.
As you begin, do not worry about spelling, punctuation, etc. Simply let the thoughts, feelings and communication flow. Find a space that is comfortable for you, whether indoors or outdoors, create your environment, maybe near a photo of your loved one, with a candle, perhaps wrapped in some clothing the deceased wore. You do not have to share your deeply personal writing with anyone. Those who wrote a letter in our grief group spoke of the deep connection they felt with their deceased loved one. See how your grief is expressed while writing and how it makes you feel.
Resources For Further Writing:
- EXPRESSING YOUR GRIEF: HEALING THROUGH WRITING, 5/15/2022, D: Stephanie Frogge, TAPS Magazine: 5/15/2022.
- WEBINAR: FINDING YOUR VOICE THROUGH WRITING: https://www.taps.org/webinar/2022/find-your-voice
- Dear Love: Healing Through Writing Letters, https://whatsyourgrief.com/healing-through-writing/
- Missing Moments & Letter Writing: A Journal Exercise, https://whatsyourgrief.com/letter-writing/