Keeping a Journal

Journal writing is a very powerful tool for working through any set of feelings. Sometimes it is easier and more comfortable to put down your feelings on the page than to say them aloud to another person. Getting them outside your mind allows you to step back from them, examine them more clearly, and work with them more creatively than were they to remain inside.

Image of a leather bound journal.

Tips For Journal Writing

In writing your journal, use the free-flowing method (i.e., jot down any thought or feeling that occurs to you and try not to censor any feeling or thought). Remember the journal is for you alone. No one else will have access unless you care to show it. Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, or organization. Refrain from immediately re-reading what you have written, for in doing so, you will be likely to censor yourself. You may find that writing becomes a dialog with yourself.

Make journal writing a continuing, weekly exercise. Write whatever comes into your mind. Date your entries so that later you can review the direction your feelings and emotions took. Don't cross anything out. As your thinking and feelings change, you can write comments on earlier entries indicating those changes. Since the entries are so private and individual, little further direction can be given.

Write a letter in your journal to your lost loved one. Express your thoughts and feelings. Some things you might write about are:

  • What we can never do now
  • What I wish I'd said or hadn't said
  • What I wish you'd said or hadn't said
  • What I miss most
  • What I wish we'd done or hadn't done
  • What I'd like to ask you
  • How I felt when you died
  • How I feel now

In your journal, try the "stream of consciousness technique". Use free verse or short phrases to record your thoughts and feelings as you give your mind free rein. To get started, you may want to use the sentence completion method, using such items as:

  • I remember when...
  • Sometimes I feel angry when...
  • Sometimes I feel hurt when...
  • I am beginning to feel...

From the Grief Education Institute in Colorado