Sunday, February 24, 2008

Journaling your grief

In my book I interviewed a parent who found her way through her grief by journaling. Through journaling one can tell one’s innermost thoughts as a release mechanism and go back to examine those feelings. Writing down raw feelings at this awful time and then looking back at it months or even years later can show how much growth has occurred.

I’m sorry I did not journal when my daughter died. However, I did do a lot of writing; hence my book. I can see now that if I had journaled, no matter how I was feeling at the time, I could have stepped aside and gotten a very different perspective of my situation.

Journaling allows you to write down spur of the moment thoughts and emotions in diary form. Sometimes I look back at my own book and think that if I had not written anything down, I would never have remembered all that took place during those dark days. I also look at the book and say to myself, “Gosh, did I write that? It’s not bad at all!” And I wonder if I could do as good a job now that so much time has passed and the emotions are so different.

Journaling is a true measure of how one is feeling. One mother told me at a bereavement conference that journaling helped her anger towards the man who was driving drunk and smashed into her daughter’s car, killing her instantly. The man walked away. “By focusing on my feelings, I could deal with what happened much better so that when I saw him in court, I was not a raving lunatic.” Another mother hopes to put her journaling into book form so that other bereaved parents can glimpse her pain when her daughter died of a brain tumor and how she lived through those months while her child was still alive.

What can you say when you journal? How about: how you felt when it happened and how you lived through those first few months, how you react to others now, what your child meant to you ,a few good memories, what you think you might do for yourself to move on, how you are coping, what drives you crazy, what others should know about you or your child, or any raving you have about what happened to your child. I could go on and on. These are only suggestions. The most important thing is to say what is in your heart. The words and emotions will just flow out.

In journaling you are free to say what you want without any fear of recrimination. It is not a must that anyone see your journal, but perhaps by showing it to others at the appropriate time, a deeper understanding between yourself and your spouse, your friends or your surviving children will occur.

Whatever your reason for journaling, know that it can only do you good. I encourage you to start now.

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