New York State Funeral Directors Association

Create a Journal to Help Ease Grief

Creating a journal helps to ease grief because it provides a safe place where you are free to express your deepest thoughts and feelings about your life loss.

At this unhappy time, it is normal for grieving people to feel helpless and out of control.

According to Linda Cherek, a member of the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved's Board of Trustees, telling the story of your relationship with the lost loved one in a journal will help to calm these emotions.

Through writing, we can express our ideas and feelings about the death, and look inward to identify and consider our strengths, areas for growth and coping mechanisms.Writing a Journal

Ms. Cherek offers some thoughts on getting started on using journaling as a part of the grieving process:

  1. Find writing materials that appeal to you -- a bound book, a spiral notebook, or loose sheets.
  2. Create a special place to write. Make it comfortable and inviting.
  3. Set aside time to write. Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way suggests getting up a half hour earlier each day (while your brain is still free of the cares of the day ahead) and write three pages -- whatever comes into your head.
  4. Don't worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar. If you can't think of anything to write, just write, "I can't think of anything to write" over and over. Often, your innermost feelings will emerge. Your journal listens without judgment.
  5. Consider some questions to focus your writing. Are there unresolved problems or questions about your relationship with the loved one who died? What has the experience of their death been like for you? What am I going to do without their physical presence? What do I want to remember? What have I learned about myself?
  6. Consider writing a letter to your loved one -- what it has been like since their death, or what you want your life to be like in the years ahead.

Ms. Cherek adds that writing out our losses is a method of therapy. "The word 'therapy' comes from the Greek word 'therapei' which means the kind of attention one gives the sacred.

The way our life was connected with that of our loved one is a sacred story of the unique journey we walked. Keeping a journal is one valuable way to honor that journey."