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How Grief Journaling Can Help You to Heal After a Loss

Grief journaling is a creative outlet that can help you process your feelings after experiencing a loss. Journaling provides a safe space to share your innermost thoughts and/or emotions that might otherwise be difficult to express openly. Writing daily can help individuals who have been putting off working through their grief to cope with their emotions in a healthy manner. As Heather Stang notes in a recent blog post, “My journal became my confidant. It was a way for me to wrap my head around what had happened, express what I was feeling, and discern who I was becoming in the wake of it all.” 

Benefits Linked to Grief Journaling

  1. A grief journal provides a personal and private way to continue honoring your loved one. 
  2. Journaling gives you space to write down memories that you can revisit in the future. 
  3. Writing in a journal allows you to express yourself freely without outside judgment or unwanted advice. 
  4. Grief journaling can help you better understand yourself and your feelings.  
  5. When your mind feels like it is spiraling out of control, writing puts those anxious thoughts on paper, helping the mind to stop obsessing over them. 

“Grief is never completely solved, and it is not something to “get over” in a prescribed time frame. A grief journal can help a person make meaning of a loss and can provide insights on how to live with a loss, moving forward one day at a time.” – Jolynn Gardner, Ph.D.

Some days, it is harder to pick up a pen than others, and you might even experience writer’s block looking at the next blank page in your journal or on your screen. For days when freewriting (writing without a prompt) seems difficult, directing your writing around a specific phrase, affirmation, idea, memory, or topic can be helpful. Studies have shown that guided writing prompts can help to provide writers with “long-term improvement on prolonged grief disorder, depressive, and post-traumatic stress symptoms.” If you need a starting point for your grief journal or are feeling a little stuck in your thoughts, try using one of the writing prompts listed below! 

10 Journal Prompts to Jumpstart Your Writing 

  1. What is one small thing (taking another breath, listening to a favorite podcast, eating a piece of chocolate, etc.) that brings me joy today? 
  2. I wish other people knew that … 
  3. Today, I miss _____ the most.
  4. The hardest feeling to process today is ….
  5. The thing that will not leave my mind lately is …
  6. My favorite affirmation is ….
  7. Memories that I want to save for the future are … 
  8. To be more compassionate with myself, I am trying ______ today. 
  9. If I could talk to you today, I would say ….
  10. When I feel overwhelmed, I repeat this mantra to myself ….  

“Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain. It is a sorting process. One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn for them. One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again.” Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Know you are not alone

Working through your grief doesn’t have to be a lonely process. You have friends, loved ones, and community resources to guide you through this chapter in your life. The other side of grief is a bright one, and you will get there at your own unique pace. Read more of our blogs that offer helpful tips to help you during your grief journey.