Grief journaling is a crucial part of the bereavement process, and I ask practically everyone I do grief work with to at least try. Research and my own professional experience show that it really does help. When I use the term “journaling” I am using it broadly, to include drawing and poetry as well. Some folks use a pad of paper, for others it’s a Word document, and still others will go out and buy a dedicated journal for this purpose, whatever you prefer is fine. For those who are mourning a loss, consider the benefits and maybe give it a try:
Benefit 1: Journaling helps you sleep better. As anyone who has lost someone close to them knows, we usually sleep a lot less or a lot more. Writing about any of the thoughts or feelings that are swirling around inside you before bed can help you sleep better, because when you are writing you are processing, not just going around in circles in your head.
Benefit 2: It helps with your emotional state. It may seem obvious to some and really counterintuitive to others, but journaling has been found to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Ask yourself what you’ve got to lose by trying
Benefit 3: It helps combat your avoidance. Many with grief have a tough time dealing with their feelings and thoughts regarding what their loss. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from thinking about your loss, but if you find yourself avoiding certain places, people or situations because they might bring up unpleasant emotions associated with your loss, journaling can be a help to you.
Benefit 4: Journaling can help your physical health. Simply writing about your feelings and associated thoughts or memories instead of keeping them locked up in your head can help blood pressure, stress hormones in your body, and have even helped folks get off of medications.
Benefit 5: Journaling helps you gain insight and perspective. Don’t be surprised if you learn or realize something over time as your journal. One of the most important functions of journaling is to help you realize things about yourself you didn’t know, even though you weren’t looking for them.
It’s not easy to mourn any significant loss. Is it? The name of the game is active emotional coping, and processing and venting emotions is a big part of that. One important thing to keep in mind–journal positive as well as negative feelings! You feel positive emotions still, and giving them space to exist in your journal is important. If you are suffering anyway, why don’t you give journaling a try?