By Danny Mize, Advisory Council member for The Hope & Healing Place
Keeping a record of your journey through grief is a valuable experience. Some people appreciate the fact that journaling encourages them to face their pain. Others express the benefits in terms of the way it helps them get a handle on what they are experiencing – aiding them in understanding and processing their pain.
The following is an attempt to answer the question “Why keep a journal while you mourn?”
Some Mechanics of Journaling
There are no strict requirements regarding journaling. Your expressions can be handwritten in an inexpensive spiral notebook or in a bound book of blank pages from a stationery store. Thoughts can be typed and kept as loose pages or put in a three-ring binder. The use of a word processor allows the work to be easily saved for future editing.
Journals don’t even have to be in written form. Audio recordings can keep a running log of your thoughts and experiences, capturing the emotions and inflections in your voice at the time you make the recordings.
Your journal doesn’t have to be completely serious, full of deep thoughts, or even all grief-related. It doesn’t have to be professional looking or sounding, and it is not limited to polished writing. Don’t feel compelled to write daily or according to any strict schedule. A journal should not become your master.
Your journal doesn’t have to be consistent in form or purpose. It can contain notes to God, letters to your loved one, entries to yourself, or even the typical “Dear Diary” entries.
Consider including whatever has captured your attention at the time. That doesn’t always have to be original thoughts. Include a song, poem, newspaper clipping, a card, a note that you’ve received from a friend, or a memory that has popped into your head. Try writing some of your prayers in your journal. God doesn’t require that all prayers be verbal, with eyes closed and heads bowed.
It is helpful if you and your family members decide on the level of confidentiality of your writings. Are they to be shared openly with immediate family? Will they be passed on to the next generation? Or do you intend to keep them completely private and have them destroyed upon your own death? If you have any strong feelings about the confidentiality of your writings, be sure to communicate those feelings to your closest family members and friends – asking them to take the steps necessary to have your wishes followed.
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