Grief and loss can be isolating and lonely experiences. Many of us have an idea of what it's like to grieve but might not ever have experienced the loss of someone close to us. Finding out what's normal and what isn't can be hard to decipher.
Writing through loss can be as much a companion to your grief as a guide through your healing journey as you experience the grieving process.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Are the Different Ways You Can Write Through Your Grief?
- Tips for Writing Through Your Grief
- Prompts and Questions to Help You Write Through Your Grief
Writing can open up your world to exploring questions about death and mourning, dealing with fear and anxiety, and helps you make sense of the profound anguish you'll face when a loved one dies.
Putting your thoughts down on paper can enable you to reflect on your love and loss, guiding you in an intimate expression of your healing journey.
What Are the Different Ways You Can Write Through Your Grief?
Starting a grief journal for the first year of grieving is healing and serves as a commemoration of your grief journey to look back at in time. Some creative outlets to explore as you sit down to write about your grief are:
- Short stories
- Participating in a grief forum
There's no wrong way to write about your grief and loss. The experience can be entirely your own, and you don't have to share your work with anyone if you don't want to. Consider this a personal exploration of your grief journey to help you heal from your pain and loss.
There are no rules to your writing and no grammar or spelling mistakes to make. The process should be as easy and stress-free as you can make it.
Tips for Writing Through Your Grief
Expect to have many questions about grief that you’ll explore as part of your writing. You’ll get more comfortable with the process the more you sit down to do it and make it a part of your routine. The following tips will help you get started on your journey.
Get in writing mode
You can make your writing sessions a part of your daily ritual to heal from your grief. Consider your choices of where you’d like to sit and write that best honors your purpose and intentions.
Before you sit down to write, consider the following:
- Create a space that is welcoming, safe, and comfortable.
- Take time to explore and understand what's happened. You may not want to jump into your writing immediately.
- Make it a part of your writing commitment to spend a few minutes thinking and reflecting on your loss. You can expect the writing process to be painful yet healing.
Set a schedule
Although the writing process may trigger strong and unsettling emotions that you may try and avoid, sitting down to a set schedule each day will help keep you committed to your recovery. Try and see your writing sessions as a journey to the unexplored. One that you’ll need to commit yourself to reach a particular destination of healing on the other side.
Your commitment to your writing schedule will ensure that you sit down to write regardless of how uncomfortable you feel exploring your grief.
Gather all your tools
Get creative in your process. Ensure that before sitting down to write, you have all the proper tools you’ll need. Having to get up in the middle of your writing session can be distracting. You might want to have everything you’ll need at arm’s reach.
Think about what’ll make your writing process go more smoothly. Do you want to incorporate pencil drawings? Will you need tissues, some water, and soothing music playing in the background? Try to think of everything you’ll need ahead of time to keep you focused on your writing once you start.
Truly let go
A grief writing session should take you through the painful process of reliving your loss and the experiences of profound pain you felt afterward.
When writing or journaling, allow yourself to write freely without censoring yourself. Writing is an exercise in not just coping with your loss but in healing from your grief. Permit yourself to truly let go and explore every aspect of your grieving as you write.
Talk to someone
Sharing your grief writing experiences with a trusted friend or therapist will help you make sense of what you’re feeling and why.
Sometimes the journaling process can reveal repressed memories, feelings, and emotions you weren’t prepared to deal with. You may not understand why these came up in your writing. Getting a different perspective may help you piece together your grief with your reactions.
Prompts and Questions to Help You Write Through Your Grief
Getting the writing flowing from your thoughts isn’t always easy. You can expect to sit there staring at a blank page from time to time. You know what and how you’re feeling, but you can’t seem to get the words down on paper. The following grief journal prompts will get your healing energy flowing and you to start writing.
If I had one more day...
We all wish we could have another day with our loved ones who've died. It's only natural to want to have them back. Many people spend their days lamenting and yearning over their lost loved ones. It's not unusual to feel that your time with him was cut short. Many of us think that if given one more day, things would be different. But, the reality is that we never know when tragedy will change our lives.
It helps the grieving process when you write down how things would be different if you had one more day. When done, continue writing about what if you had another day, and then another. This writing exercise should help calm some of your anxiety.
The last thing I wished I could’ve said...
One of the biggest regrets for those who’ve experienced the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one is not having an opportunity to say their final goodbyes.
An example of this is when someone dies alone in a car wreck or other type of tragedy. Writing about what you would’ve said to them given the opportunity can help release some of that regret you might have.
The happiest memory I have of you...
Remembering and writing about the happiest times with your loved one will help you focus on the good in times of deep despair.
Writing about happy memories after a loved one dies also helps bring back joy into your life after loss. It can bring you renewed hope and open the way to finding new happiness sources in your life following a tragedy.
I miss you the most when...
For all of the times you wished your loved one near telling them how much you miss them will release some of those feelings of deep yearning and longing for them. Write down about the times you felt most alone and what you do to help you cope.
Remember that it’s a natural and normal part of grief to miss a loved one who’s died profoundly. Tell them about it to help you feel better.
Today, I’m having a hard time with...
Expect your emotions to ebb and flow from day to day. Some days will be more challenging than others, and that’s okay. As you progress through your grief, you’ll learn what triggers your suffering and how to get through it.
For the most demanding days to get through, sit down and write about what’s causing you the most pain that day. Ask your loved one to watch over you as you learn to cope with your grief.
These are the people who I consider my biggest supporters...
Writing down the list of people who've been the most incredible support to you during your grief journey reminds you that you're not alone. It's also very healing to share this information with your loved one who died to let them know how much you value their love and support.
Be specific when writing down the names of those who've been there for you. Elaborate on how they've helped you and how they've made you feel, and why you consider them your biggest supporters
This is how I can be more compassionate toward myself…
Having compassion for yourself can be expressed in many ways. One of those ways is to be easy on yourself, especially on your most challenging days. There's no definitive timeline to your grief and how it will play out. You can expect that there'll be some days where you feel that you're at your lowest.
When that happens, remember to give yourself that extra love and support that you'll need by taking care of yourself. Allow yourself to feel the pain of your suffering without judgment. Remember that you won't always feel this way, and things will get better.
I know that I’m healing when...
When you experience debilitating grief, all you can think about is how much it hurts to lose someone you love. You may feel stuck in your pain for weeks on end. However, as time goes by, you'll slowly start to feel better. The pain doesn't go away, but your suffering will lessen.
Take note of every little milestone in your grief journey and write it down. You'll start to feel like a weight is slowly lifting off your shoulders. After a while, you should see the ebbs and flows of your journey. You'll be able to pinpoint subtle changes in your thoughts and feelings that let you know that you're slowly beginning to heal.
The Power of Healing Through Writing
The death of a loved one is an agonizing experience. The pain can be so debilitating that it makes it difficult to imagine how you'll survive. Often one of the most potent healing mechanisms for those who are suffering is writing through their grief. Although grieving can be profound, healing will follow. However, it's often a slow and painful journey.
Your loved one can inspire you to live a more productive and meaningful life through writing, find ways to build closer relationships, and understand yourself better. Healing your grief through writing will become one of your loved one's legacies to you.