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Journal Exercises for Grief

One of the most recognized ways of handling grief and other strong emotions is to journal. Journaling is expressing yourself through writing, or drawing, the emotions and feelings you are  experiencing. There is no right or wrong way to journal. Nor is there a right or wrong way to express yourself in the privacy of your personal journal. Here you can say things you would never say outloud. Thoughts that are revolving through your mind at a relentless pace can be purged by writing them in a journal. They don’t have to make sense. No one ever has to see your journal except you. Within the pages of your journal you can express any emotion no matter how mild or strong and know that it is okay.

How to Start Journaling

You can journal in spiral notebooks or in store-bought journals. You can journal with pencil, pen, or colors. It’s really up to you! Some journals are blank pages of paper for you to fill. Some offer you questions to think about and respond to. Some grief journals focus your thoughts on the loved one who has passed away. Some journals focus on moving through the grief and into the life beyond the bereavement period. Some journals prompt you to create pictures. What is important is to find a journal that works for you.

After picking a journal, find a quiet place where you can write or draw uninterrupted for 10 – 15 minutes. Setting a timer can help you get  your thoughts on paper. If you have trouble with free writing you can use writing prompts. Writing prompt are extremely helpful when journaling. Some people can journal for hours, others journal for 5 -10 minutes a day. You know yourself the best. For beginners a timer set for 10 minutes is recommended.

Below are some journaling exercises or prompts to help you along your path in journaling your grief.

Captured Moments: When you are missing your loved one and the emotion is just rolling through you, write about a special moment. Write with intensity and express the feelings through detailed descriptions of the event. Think back to the event and describe the sensory details — the sight, smell, touch, taste, feel of things.

Write lists: Lists can be very helpful. They can especially be useful when you are feeling emotionally out of control. You can make many types of lists: memories, things you never said and want to say to the beloved, things you wish you had known, emotions, hopes and fears for the future. regrets, etc.

Write a poem. Poetry to your beloved. Poetry about your beloved. Poetry about the sense of loss and feelings of missing your loved ones. Poems in any form are wonderful components of journals.

Draw or Color. If you are a person who really can’t draw per se, you can use colors to express emotions; scribbling black when feeling depressed, red for anger, blue for peaceful, etc. You can determine the meaning of the colors as they flow onto the pages. Those who are skilled in drawing can draw pictures of the beloved, memories of times together, hopes for the future, etc.

Write a letter to the deceased and then write back to yourself in their voice.

6 Writing Prompts to Help You Get Started Journaling:

  1. Three things I am grateful for today are:
  2. I remember when:
  3. My favorite thing about _____ was. . .
  4. I would love to get some support with…
  5. A year from now I would like to ……
  6. Your life and death have changed me and aspects of my life now in these ways…

Journaling is one tool to use to help overcome loss and sorrow. It can be used for other reasons as well, but has been shown to be especially effective after suffering the death of a loved one. The ideas for how to journal or draw through loss are endless. Hopefully, you can find something here to help you as you move through the mourning process.

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