Grief Journaling

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Debbra Bronstad, Grief Recovery CoachDebbra Bronstad, LMFT, Grief Recovery Coach MI #4101006638


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Grief journaling is a way to purposefully give your heart time to express the varied emotions you are feeling about your loss.

Often it seems easier to stuff the feelings in order to take care of daily responsibilities. This can especially be true several months or even years after a significant loss. The world around us doesn't wait for us to finish grieving. There are children to raise, assignments to complete at work or school (or maybe both), the house and car need repairs. There can be so many needs calling for our attention.

After a while we may appear on the outside like we're doing okay, but we still feel an emptiness or numbness inside. You wonder if you'll ever truly be happy again.

You may notice that your coping mechanisms either aren't working as well anymore to help you avoid the pain. Compulsive behaviors may be causing additional problems in your life and relationships.

Or it could be, you simply recognize the need to care for your soul during this time of sorrow.

In any case, writing may be a way for you to release some pain, fears, anger, anxiety, and sorrow that you have been carrying for a long time.  Researches have demonstrated that writing about feelings can help people feel better emotionally, and even physically reduce pain and stress when practiced as a consistent habit.

Difficulties with Grief Journaling

Some common difficulties with journaling may include:

Challenge:  Concern about flooding of emotion

1. Set a timer for 15 minutes or 30 minutes depending on what you can tolerate. Write for only that amount of time and stop.

2. Use lists in your journal. More structure will help to contain the emotion.

  • List what you need to do that day.
  • List the things you are grateful for.
  • List who you can count on for support in your community.
  • List your self-care plan. What would help you feel better this week?

  • Challenge: Blank pages and not sure what to write

    Here are some journal starters:

  • Write about the day your loved one died? How did you find out? What was your experience like of that day?
  • Write a stream of consciousness. What are you thinking or feeling today?
  • What do you wish someone had said or done for you on the day of the funeral?
  • What do you need someone to do for you today?

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