Getting Started With Keeping A Journal
By Claire Bidwell Smith
As a writer and a therapist, I’ve always believed in the importance of journaling during the grief journey. Simply keeping a journal can help regulate emotions, provide an outlet for all the big feelings you are grappling with, and serve as an incredible way to reflect on your life as you move forward.
The truth is that we never get over the people we lose but it’s understandable that finding ways to move forward in our lives and be in the world without the people we love can feel daunting when you are going through a big loss. It’s also true that one of the most effective tools I’ve learned for this is writing about it.
The best part is that you don’t have to be a writer to take up journaling. I know that some people feel intimidated by the idea of writing, but this isn’t the kind of writing you need to stress about. The things you write in your journal are just for you. Your sentences don’t have to be perfect, you don’t need to use big words, and your thoughts don’t even have to be concise. No one has to read the things you write, including you – once you’ve journaled it’s up to you if you even want to reread what you wrote.
The point is to get your thoughts and feelings down on paper. When we are grieving we experience so many varying emotions, such as anger, disappointment, envy, self-doubt, sadness, guilt, and anxiety. It can be hard to navigate all of these, especially when you feel different ones day to day, or even hour to hour. Writing about what you’re feeling is one of the best ways to move through the rollercoaster of emotions.
When my mother died when I was eighteen, I wrote all the time. It felt like the only place I could hear myself think. I also wasn’t sure who to share all of my complex thoughts about her death with, so writing in my journal became a vital outlet for my grief process. I see this all the time with my clients as well. Taking a few minutes in the morning to write about how you’re feeling can better prepare you to deal with the responsibilities you have to face in your daily life. Or, taking some time to write in the afternoon or evening after a demanding day can help alleviate the pressure that builds up over the course of a day.