Putting Words to Your Grief

“Every great loss demands that we choose life again. We need to grieve in order to do this. The pain we have not grieved will always stand between us and life. Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain. It is a sorting process. One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn for them. One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again.” — Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Grieving the death of a loved one is undoubtedly one of the hardest things you may ever do. Death literally shifts the foundations of  life as you know it. Losing a loved one is a very painful and personal experience, and we may feel a whole range of emotions, from denial and anger to loneliness and depression. Whether the people in your life want to hear it or not, you have a deep emotional truth that needs to be told. Felt. Spoken. Processed. The rawness of death sucks. It affects your body, mind, and spirit as an avalanche of emotions sweep over.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grieving is not something you should be expected to simply “get over”. Rather, it is a process of learning how to live in a world without your loved one. It is quite normal to experience a variety of high and low emotions over a long period of time. You rise and fall and rise again.

There is no immediate or magical cure for grief. There is a range of options for dealing with your grief in a healthy and conscious way. You may find that some will work for you, and some will not. The grieving process is different for everyone however many people feel a strong need to write about their experience of loss. Writing in a grief journal helps process feelings and express yourself in a safe, non-judgmental place.  Journaling is an incredibly healing process as writing allows trauma and emotion that has been “frozen” within you to be released.  Grief journaling is one way of allowing yourself the space for genuine healing to take place, whether or not you are ready and willing to express yourself to others.

It takes courage and vulnerability to write, to express how you honestly feel, about what happened through your eyes and from your own perspective which can lead to healing, transformation, and acceptance. It helps to organize your thoughts and memories; it is a way to honour how you feel and the relationship that was lost.

Journaling is an effective way for getting things your chest. It is also meditative and allows you to get at the heart of what you feel most distressed about. It is also an extremely helpful to read your own words about what happened and how it made you feel. So often when we experience the emotional trauma of the loss of someone we love can be very overwhelming. When we have the opportunity to put things into words it can feel like things are a bit more manageable. It is an opportunity to freely express your emotions about loss providing a cathartic sense of relief.

Even 20-years after the death of my own dad, I was still holding on to the unprocessed pain of his loss. I think what was most difficult for me was that I seemed to be able to connect with everyone else’s loved ones on the other side, except the one person that I needed to connect to the most. It was not that he was not available to me, my grief made me unavailable to him. The energy of my grief added to the density of the veil making it even more challenging and difficult to link us. This energy was not in the way however when it came to my connection to other people’s loved ones; I was not grieving them and it was not until I was able to fully process the grief I was carrying from my dad’s loss that I was able to bridge the connection to him. Journaling my grief contributed greatly to making this possible.

So to you, the one reading this, let me first say, “I am so sorry for your loss” . Secondly, I invite you to give words to your grief because in the trying moments, or even on your happiest days, you may find that a personal journal will help you to feel more balanced and connected to the spirit of your loved one; to keep their memories alive and their spirit close.

15-minutes every day is all it takes….. or even every few days, to write through your grief. Honour what works best for you. You may find the following writing prompts helpful in start you journalling process:

  • I remember when….
  • This is what I have to say to you….
  • The first time I….
  • My happiest memory of you is…
  • The greatest lesson I have learned is…
  • I wish I could see… because…
  • I wish I never… because…
  • I wish I could go to… because…
  • I wish I could give… because…
  • I wish I could learn… because…

Your journal is yours and what you write is for you. You don’t have to filter anything. Don’t worry about your spelling, your grammar or what other people will think. It’s an opportunity to be honest with yourself, which at times can be painful, but also very healing. The key is to be as raw, genuine, and authentic as possible. Let yourself write fearlessly; pain, like love, needs expression.

Tips for writing through grief:

  1. Do you best to keep writing until you finish your thought or have reached the end of your allocated writing time without rereading anything. 
  2. Even if you write something that you did not mean to write, is not of the same thought, or you regret, leave it there. Let it remain off our heart.
  3. Try not to worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. Doodle, write, swear, let it be random, let it be what it needs to be…. for you.

The words are not as important as the intention behind your writing. Say a little prayer, call upon your angels, guides and loved ones on the other side to be with you – to give you the words and comfort you through.

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