Journaling Your Way Through Grief

By Catherine Greenleaf
Journaling is a very powerful method of healing. The visceral act of writing words down on paper can assist you in releasing pent-up sadness and grief. After my loss, I had so many conflicting emotions, I wasn’t sure what to do with them all. My suicide bereavement therapist suggested I go down to the local CVS pharmacy and buy myself a spiral-bound notebook. She said, “Write down how you feel.” I know during my worst times of grief after the suicide, my journal was my best buddy. I poured all my anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, confusion and despair into the pages of my journal. I ended up with thirteen journals!!!!! But I had released so many negative emotions, and in the process, I felt lighter and freer and more willing to start living my life again.
In my journal, I wrote many “anger letters” to my loved one. These letters asked him: why did you leave me? why did you choose such a method to die? did you ever stop and think how I would be affected by your leaving? I got all the anger and rage out of my system by writing these letters to him. With every letter I wrote him, I felt more and more peace of mind.
It’s important to remember that this is YOUR journal. You don’t have to share it with anyone (although I have read a few passages to my therapist over the years.) Keep your journal in a private, secret place that no one can find. Your writing is sacred and no one has the right to violate your privacy and read your words unless you give permission.
Today, my journal is part of my morning ritual. Each morning, I sit down with my hot cup of green tea and my journal. I write down how I am feeling AND I TELL THE TRUTH. When someone on the street stops and asks, “How are you?” it’s always very tempting to just say: “Oh, I’m fine,” and walk away. But with a journal I can be completely honest. After such a devastating loss, I found I was hungry for honesty — from myself and from others in my life. My journal keeps me honest — and free of pent-up emotions.

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