Your Grief Journal

Keeping a grief journal helps with healing by providing an avenue to pour out your innermost pain and feelings.

If there is one thing I would recommend for someone who is grieving, it is journaling.

What is a Grief Journal?

You have probably kept a diary at some stage. A grief journal is a diary for you to document and express your grief, to unburden and clarify emotions, and to assist healing.

Every journal is original. You can start with scraps of paper, a note book, scrap book or an elegant leather bound journal. You may prefer your favourite technology or join an on-line journaling group.

There is however, something very grounding and intimate when using a pen (pencil, paint or crayons if you like). You can feel your emotions and mood coming through your writing. You may also see the tracks and blurs created if tears and ink mix on the paper.

Rules for Journaling:

There are none. However, you may like to establish your own as you go along.

How to Start Journaling:

Never mind if you do not consider yourself a writer (I'm certainly not one). Your grief journal is your private domain, no one else needs to see it.

  1. Set aside a specific time and allocate a specific space (a little like a meditation practice).
  2. Find a pen and a note book or whatever tools you choose to use. Some purchase a symbolic journal and a special pen.
  3. If you are artistic (lucky you) go for it (doodle, draw, scrapbook, paint). Express your grief as you feel comfortable.
  4. Start writing. If you are not sure what about, start with your name, the date, day, time of day and where you are.
  5. Set a timer if you like. A lot can be written in 15 minutes.
  6. Date each entry (this is important when looking back)
  7. Write about what is happening around you
  8. You may wish to write a history of your life up to this point. If you choose to write the history, break it down to small chunks or periods of time.
  9. If the pen takes its own direction go with it. Write whatever comes to you for as long as your hand keeps going.
  10. End your grief journaling session on a positive. Something you are grateful for (such as fresh air, good health, a nice day or a smile you may have received from a stranger)
  11. Once you have finished writing or your time has elapsed, close your journal and put it away until your next planned session.

Tips on How to Keep a Grief Journal:

  •  Just write it down, whatever is coming up for you, whatever you are stuck on. Just write it down. Even if you find you are writing the same thing over and over again, that is OK. At some stage you will notice a shift in the level of your grief.
  • If you find journaling confronting or challenging, may be it is not for you at this time. Come back to journaling when you are ready.
  • Empty your heart and soul onto the page. Or whatever may be churning around your head at the time. Then when you are ready, read it back with compassion, understanding and love for the writer.
  • If you are stuck for what to write, take your journal outside to a quiet place. Near water is usually a good place to connect to the real you.
  • Set a time and place for your writing. Perhaps last thing before you go to bed or first thing in the morning or both. Before bed helps to clear the day and the emotions. First thing in the morning can help to set a positive intention for the day ahead.
  • Jot down dreams or thoughts that come to you during the night.
  • Use your journal to talk to your loved one. What was left unsaid between you? What would you like to say and what do you suppose they would say back to you?
  • Write to yourself from the universe (your god). Someone who loves you and wants the best for you.
  • Use your journal to ask questions or say the things that just keep playing on your mind.
  • You can say things to a grief journal that you would never say to another person. There is no need to edit or censure information.
  • Reflect on how you may have changed (or not) since your last journal entry.
  • When grieving we may need to tell our story again and again. Your journal can help save the potential drain on relationships of a repetitive story.
  • Accept whatever is coming up for you. It may be different to what was coming up yesterday and what may come up tomorrow. There is no right or wrong.

Benefits of Journaling for Grief Healing:

  •  A grief journal is a concrete and safe place to off load your grief, sadness, anger and all those other emotions and thoughts you may be dealing with.
  • A grief journal does not judge, misunderstand, become impatient, try to analyse or give advice.
  • Journaling through grief gives you the opportunity to get it out, get it down and release feelings, frustration and anger.
  • With a grief journal you will always have a friend and companion near by.
  • Keeping a grief journal allows time for reflection and a better understanding of who you are and what is important to you.
  • Better sleep.
  • A grief journal can help you to identify practical problems that may be needing your attention. Journaling will also help you find solutions.
  • As you re-read your journal you can do so as an observer and feel compassion, love and support for the writer (you).
  • A Journal shows clear evidence of progress and healing.
  • Journalling can provide the basis of a book or story, should you choose to take that track.
  • A ceremonial 'burning' of the grief journal at some later stage may signify a cathartic release and completion.

You have already experienced the life changing effect of intense grief. While it may seem that there is no relief to the dreadful sadness of grief, your journal can prove otherwise. Flicking back through your journal you may see that your grief does indeed soften.

Over time you may no longer need to keep a journal or you may continue journaling as a life affirming habit.

An Exercise in Transformation

Transformation is about changing the energy (more about that later).

If you are interested in letting go of some of the energy from your grief you may like to try this exercise.

Start with setting the intention that it is time for you to move on or to let go of some of that pain.

Choose an issue or aspect of your grief that has been churning about for you. This may be something that keeps coming up in your grief journal, or maybe an issue you are currently having in your daily life.

  1. Set a timer for 20 minutes (you don’t want to get bogged down).
  2. Write furiously and freely on loose leaf paper. Write until you have exhausted your subject.
  3. Roll the completed paper into a cone.
  4. Hold the intention, wish, or desire that the pain represented in your writing will be transformed.
  5. Create a space and hold a burning ceremony (outside preferably to ensure safety). Perhaps a BBQ or ceramic pot could be used.
  6. As we may need to repeat our story to reach meaning and acceptance for ourselves, so to can we write, burn, and transform as often as needed
  7. Take some quiet time to settle and re-group after your ceremony.
  8. If burning is not appropriate for you, find another another 'transformation' (perhaps shredding or burying).

The transformation ceremony, or your version of it, may be useful to:

  • Transform your grief and pain
  • ask the universe to help you find peace
  • ask the universe to help you find purpose
  • give thanks and gratitude for all that you had
  • give thanks and gratitude for all that you have.

Personal Comment

All Personal Comments from individuals on have been provided with their full consent and blessing.

Thank you to those contributing.

Personal Comment: contributed by "name. City"



Journaling Tips from tiny buddha