Writing to heal

Sometimes the most difficult and devastating circumstances can offer an opportunity for reflection and growth. In the days and weeks following a loss, taking the time to capture your thoughts in writing can be very valuable. Journaling helps to battle depression, stress, and anxiety, any of which you may experience after the loss of a loved one. In his book, Writing to Heal: A guided journal for recovering from trauma & emotional upheaval, James W. Pennebaker PH.D. explains that journaling is a stress management tool that can help people process through traumatic events. This, in turn, helps a person heal while giving the immune system a needed boost. 

Beyond just “writing stuff on paper”, journaling is an exercise in expanding your relationship with yourself. Try writing in a systematic fashion and using best practices to maximize the benefits received from journaling. Begin by creating a reflective space that is free from distractions.  Try writing frequently, at least 3-4 times per day. Write quickly, without worrying about spelling or grammar. 

The benefits of journaling 

  • Reduces symptoms of depression before or after a stressful event 
  • Enhances a sense of well-being and mental health
  • Boosts positive emotions and mood 
  • Provides insight into thoughts and emotions

Ideas to Get You Started

There are no wrong answers on what to write about; however, here are some ideas that you might find helpful:

  • What was the most meaningful aspect of the services you attended?
  • How has your lost loved one inspired you?
  • What is your happiest memory of your loved one?
  • What is the greatest lesson that your loved one has taught you?
  • What would you say to your loved one if they were still here?
  • What brings you the most joy in life?
  • What is something that makes you feel peaceful?
  • What are your current life priorities?
  • Is there anyone that you want to reach out to?
  • Is there anything you have resolved to do better or differently?

Navigating through grief is difficult. Journaling is a tool that may help to make the journey a little easier and help you to find a more balanced and peaceful state of mind. 


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