Writing to Rest, Writing to Heal

A few weeks ago I spoke to members of a Grief Coalition on the topic “Suggestions for Coping with Grief.”  One of my suggestions was to keep a journal.  Journaling is a way to express ourselves, to share feelings, memories, thoughts, and ideas.  A journal is a great friend and will not argue, disagree, or censor anything we say—it’s entirely trustworthy!  One person, recalling her grief experience, said that her journal was her “paper psychiatrist.”

James W. Pennebaker, author of The Secret Life of Pronouns, says that several healthy changes occur when we write, “including changes in people’s thinking patterns, emotional responses, brain activity, sleep and health behaviors.” (p. 5)  The act of writing helps us to heal, not only from traumatic experiences but from the bumps and bruises of daily life as well.

On the evening that I spoke to this group, I suggested these “entry starters” to help them write about their grief:

What I miss most is…

What I’d like to tell you is…

What I regret/am sorry for is…

What I am most grateful for is…

Sometimes all we need is a start and when we put our pen to paper, the words begin to come!

My journal. I still have a lot of pages to fill! May 2012.

I do keep a journal–not necessarily for grief but for letting go of all the inner “clutter” that accumulates over busy days and weeks.  Writing journal entries is a bit like laying down one’s burden, putting on paper whatever needs rest and renewal.

I must confess, however, that I don’t journal as much as I’d like.  Writing every day is a worthy goal–and I admire those who do–but it has not yet become a daily reality for me.  Maybe I need to think of some journal starters for myself!

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