Journaling Your Way Through Grief and Loss

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Today I want to talk about grief and coping with loss. Sadly it’s a fact of life that we will all experience some kind of loss or traumatic event in our lifetime. If you are someone who has gone through, or is going through either a loss or traumatic event, my heart goes out to you. It can be harder for some to get past these unfortunate events in life. But there is a way to deal with both while still functioning in daily life.

In March, I lost both my father and our beloved 18-year old dog. While I wasn’t particularly close with my father my dog was a different story. She was my best friend who loved me unconditionally and my heart aches in her absence within the house. But I turned to journaling and memory keeping to help with those feelings. Making journaling a daily habit truly does help…alot.

If you follow the blog you already know I lost my mother in 2020. It was that loss that really gave me pause and started my journey in memory keeping. One of my biggest fears was that I would forget these precious memories of my mother or that future generations would not know her story. So it became really important to me to preserve her memory and to do that I started A Memory Journal for Mom.

In this journal about her, I do a lot of memory keeping but I also write letters to her to say what I never had the chance to say, especially in her final hours. It’s not an overly fancy journal. Just a simple dot grid bound plain journal that I picked up at Michaels. But it works. It gets me writing and recording those precious memories which also helps me to feel closer to her.

What is a Grief Journal?

The soul purpose of a grief journal is to write or document your journey through grief. Often times, after a loss, our biggest fear is that these memories will fade into everyday life and be forgotten. But the simple act of journaling about your feelings will keep you connect to yourself and those precious memories.

There are many different forms of grief journaling from guided journals to DIY grief journals. How you choose to journal through your grief is entirely up to you. Many times journaling will also incorporate memory keeping with photos, quotes and mementoes.

The 5 Stages of Grief

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

These stages are not linear -meaning they don’t necessarily happen in the order listed. Each person is different and as such will experience grief differently. For some, who feel deeply, grief and loss can be debilitating and interferes with daily life and routines. If you are dealing with grief and loss you are not alone. If you are struggling to deal with or get past your grief please seek the help of a medical professional.

When you are journaling…do it freely…lose control. Do not worry about rereading, crossing things out, making corrections, etc. Remember, your goal is to get your feelings out rather than keep them buried inside.

Benefits of Grief Journaling

There are numerous research studies that suggest grief journaling has both psychological and physiological therapeutic value. It’s a great low-cost, minimal effort coping method of “letting go”.

Some of the benefits of journaling include (but are not limited to): lowers heart rate, lowers blood pressure, combats avoidance, improves lung function (in asthmatics), improves joint health (for those with arthritis), improves mental health (especially for those with depression and anxiety) and you get better sleep.

The most important thing to remember when you journal is to be compassionate with yourself…give yourself some grace as you navigate through your feelings of grief and loss.

Journaling isn’t all about writing either. You might find that you prefer a “visual grief journal” where you can compile your pages with words or pictures you’ve cut out of magazines; much like creating a vision board of sorts. Or you might want to incorporate your love of scrapbooking. No matter what you choose, getting creative in your grief journal is heart and mind-healthy!

Need inspiration for your journal pages? Check out some of these creative art journal pages that incorporate a variety of ideas including scrapbooking, watercolor, paper napkin art and more.

Choosing a Grief Journal

Choosing a journal might be easy for you. You might like the composition style journal notebooks that were used in school, or you might just want something unfussy like a bound notebook journal. Whatever you choose be sure the journal speaks to you or inspires you or else you may never pick it up to write in it.

Take some time to shop around your local bookstore. Check out what is available and if one catches your eye or you can’t forget about it, then by all means get it. You may have just found your perfect journal!

Create Your Own DIY Grief Journal

If you haven’t found the journal that speaks to you or you want to personalize your journal in any way, then creating your own DIY grief journal might be the way to go. Before starting there are a few questions to ask yourself first.

  • Do you prefer a hard cover or soft cover?
  • Do you want ruled, unruled or blank paper?
  • What size do you want it to be?
  • Do you want to include artwork, painting or watercolor to your journal? This will affect what weight of paper to put in your journal.

Since you are creating your own journal you also get to decide if you want to bind the journal, have the journal on a disc-system or keep separate sections like you would find in a travelers notebook. You should also consider a junk journal as a creative option.

Bonus: Grief Journaling Prompts

The hardest part of grief journaling is getting started. If you are struggling to get started use the prompts below to help keep you focused and guide your writing.

  • Start a page with “What I miss most…”
  • I remember when…
  • How have things changed now that your loved one is gone?
  • How do you feel today?
  • Remember a memory about your loved one.
  • My happiest memory of you is…
  • The greatest lesson I have learned from you is…
  • Write a letter to your loved one and say what was left unsaid.
  • This is what I want to say to you that I never got the chance to…

If you still feel like you need some extra time and self-care to get you through the healing process, check out 25 Ways to Practice Self Care + Free Printable.

If you are inspired to create your own DIY grief journal don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired. I’d love to see your work (and I just might repost your photo)!

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The information contained in this post is not meant to, nor does it, take the place of a medical professional. If you feel you need more guided help dealing with your grief and loss, please seek the help of your physician or a trained psychologist.

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