There are many ways to process grief. Today we will discuss Grief Journaling and its benefits.
Some people have a hard time opening up to others when they are grieving. They may feel like they will be judged or don’t want anyone to pity them. That is where Grief Journaling can be extremely helpful. No one but you would have access to your deepest thoughts and feelings unless, of course, you choose to share them with your loved ones. There are no “Right” or “Wrong” answers and you can re-visit issues that you are having the hardest time with whenever you want and add to anytime you choose (or edit if you decide to use a computer to journal).
"Especially when losses are traumatic, they may be difficult to discuss or even disclose to another. And yet the psychological and physical burden of harboring painful memories without the release of sharing can prove far more destructive in the long run.” Dr. Robert Niemeyer.
This quote is perfect to explain why we all need some sort of release. Whether it is person to person or person to paper, it is all beneficial to help begin the healing process. If you never face your grief related issues and triggers, you may never learn to cope with them. Not only that, it has been studied and proven to cause physical issues – such as high blood pressure, elevated heart rates, depression, anxiety and more. When James W. Pennebaker and Joshua M. Smith studied groups with various health issues, they found that the group that didn’t engage in healthy grieving stages were more likely to suffer from their physical ailments versus the groups that wrote about their feelings, who were found to have significant health improvements.
When you begin journaling, you may find yourself with a case of writer’s block. Where should you begin? What should you write about? How do you express everything you want to say without it ending up sounding like a huge ramble? It may not be easy at first, but there are some starting points you can begin with, and as you go, create your own. You can write your loved one a letter in your journal. Speak directly to them and ask questions you never got the chance to ask. Talk about memories or funny stories between you and them. Imagine what they’d be doing today if they were still with you. Make a list of what you enjoyed or loved about them. Tell them about the people they loved and what they’re doing now in life. It doesn’t matter what you start with, it soon will feel easier and become second nature.
Keeping a grief journal requires dedication and discipline. That being said, you don’t need to feel pressured to write daily. In fact, some people choose to do it far less often, maybe two to three times weekly. However, studies have shown that just 15 minutes of journaling daily can produce positive and lasting effects. Ignore spelling errors, grammar errors and don’t worry if others can decipher your writings. It only matters if it makes sense to you.
To start journaling, choose your materials. Pen, pencil, marker, notebook, composition book, loose leaf paper, computer, whatever your preference may be. Set aside time for yourself to write daily. Remember though, if you feel you need to skip that day, skip it. Some like to write in the morning, some choose evening. Next, decide if you want to create the journal to be in chronological order, or of just in an abstract order that come to you daily. Pick a topic to write about and start your healing.