Journaling can be an incredibly helpful tool to utilize as you move through bereavement. Doing so can help you process unconscious and conscious thoughts and for some can lead to a peaceful release of emotional tension and intrusive thoughts that may have built up. This may result in decreased stress levels, which can improve your overall wellbeing.
How to Write a Grief Focused Journal Entry
Grief can manifest in unique ways depending on each individual, as well as their relationship to the deceased. There is no right or wrong way to write a grief focused journal entry. Think of this as a way to help process what you are experiencing during this time. It can be helpful to create a peaceful space where you can let yourself fully feel and release any emotions you need to. Also:
- Try not to edit or overthink what you're writing as this can prevent unconscious thoughts from being released and processed.
- Try to keep writing or drawing or doodling as you allow your mind to wander and delve into your memories and thoughts about your loved one.
- Remember to be kind to yourself and know that it can take some time to get used to journaling. New patterns or behavioral shifts can take weeks to months to become accustomed to so try to journal around the same time every day until you are used to this coping method.
- If possible, journal for at least 10 minutes every day and adjust your journaling schedule to fit your needs.
Emotion Focused Prompts
Grief often comes with an intense rush of a variety of emotions. Whether you are comfortable processing your emotions or not, journaling can help you get started with working through and better understanding what you are feeling. Keep in mind that emotions that are forced down, ignored, or dampened tend to come out in the form of outbursts, unhealthy behaviors, and for some can manifest into painful or uncomfortable mental health symptoms. Some emotion focused grief prompts include:
- What emotions are most difficult for me to explore as I think about my loved one?
- What feelings are challenging for me to confront? How does this impact my grieving process?
- When I have intense feelings come up, where do I feel them in my body?
- What is the hardest part of this process for me?
- How do I take care of myself when I am really missing my loved one?
- Have I ever struggled to give myself permission to fully grieve? Why do I think that is?
- What support systems do I have in place to help me through this time?
- When I allow my mind to wander, what memories tend to pop up? How does that make me feel?
Prompts About Remembering Your Loved One
Sometimes addressing what you miss and remember about your loved one can feel the most painful. It can feel natural to want to avoid bringing up these memories and thoughts as they might feel too intense to think about. Processing the time you shared together, when you feel ready to do so, can end up being a beautiful way to honor and cherish the memories you had together. If writing about this feels too intense, be sure to give yourself breaks as needed and be kind to yourself as you bring up these special memories.
- What dreams or thoughts about my loved one have recently come up?
- What's my favorite memory with my loved one?
- What's the funniest memory I have about my loved one?
- What will I miss the most about my loved one?
- What made my loved one special?
- What memory about my loved one makes me smile?
- When do I miss my loved one the most?
Sensory Grief Journal Prompts
Grief can feel sensorial as certain smells, tastes, sounds, sights, and tactile feelings can instantly trigger a memory of your loved one. To help process these moments, you can journal about:
- What smells remind me of my loved one and why? What's my favorite memory associated with this smell?
- When I close my eyes and think about the person I've lost, what image comes to mind?
- Have I heard a familiar sound that triggered a memory of the individual who passed away?
- What meals remind me of my loved one and why?
- What textures or fabrics bring up memories of my loved one?
Creative Journal Prompts About Grief
For some, processing grief in a more concrete, magical, or abstract way can be incredibly powerful. To explore this type of journaling, you can write about:
- If I could give my grief a physical form, what would it look like?
- What color reminds me of my loved one and why?
- If I could rewrite how I said goodbye, would I and what would I do differently?
- If I could speak to them again for just a few minutes, what would I say?
- When have I ever felt my loved one's presence?
- If my loved one was here with me, what advice would they give me for healing after losing them?
Ways to Renew Your Spirit
Aside from journaling, it's important to think about your overall wellbeing. Taking good care of yourself is essential at this time as you are most likely feeling the immense emotional and physical exhaustion that grief can bring on. You can consider:
- Create a mantra that is focused on your healing journey.
- View journaling as a meaningful way to connect with yourself and process challenging information.
- Take time to thank yourself for taking good care of your mind and body.
- Focus on self-care and come up with a healthy routine that makes you feel good.
- If you are able to and feel emotionally comfortable doing so, do something nice for someone you care about. Doing so can boost your mood and help you feel connected.
Journaling As Self-Care
Journaling is a great coping tool when it comes to processing grief. Aside from having the supplies most likely in your home already, journaling:
- Helps you process emotions and thoughts that you may not feel comfortable saying aloud
- May uncover unconscious thoughts while you write in a stream of consciousness
- May clarify patterns that you may not have noticed previously
- Could help decrease uncomfortable and/or intrusive thoughts, as suggested by research
- May help you process, better understand, and store memories in a healthier way
- Increase emotional intelligence, as well as your insight
- May positively impact your sleep patterns as journaling can help you process and release emotional tension and uncomfortable thoughts
Journaling As a Helpful Tool for Coping With Grief
Journaling may feel challenging to begin, but it can become an incredibly helpful tool to assist you as you process thoughts and emotions related to your recent loss. Be kind to yourself during this process and allow yourself to explore whatever thoughts and emotions come up for you as you journal.