When grief is new, feelings simmer just beneath the surface. This compromises the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to the flu, colds and infections. Research shows that short bursts of emotional writing, say just 15 minutes even for four consecutive days, result in improved immune system performance.
What journaling does for you:
1. An empty page is non-judgmental and forgiving. It lets you vent and patiently receives. Save it or burn it, the release is complete.
2. You release intense emotions instead of locking them up in your cells. Unexpressed emotion often manifests as illness.
3. Journaling can keep you connected with your loved one. You may choose to write an angry rant at him/her for leaving you, another day you may express deep sadness about the death of a togetherness dream, or reflect poignantly on a vacation you took or a special evening you enjoyed.
4. It helps you keep track of your emotional journey. Months or years later, when you look back on this time, you’ll see how much you’ve grown as a person and the lessons you gained from the life experience.
What to Write:
1. Free writing is best. Let the words flow onto the page without judgement. Allow whatever shows up, be it anger, fear, envy, self-pity or hatred.
2. Make a list of the emotions that you’re experiencing, memories, to-do’s or future plans.
3. Sentence starters are like the ignition. Consider beginning with “Today, I feel…” or “I need…” or “When I think of you…”
4. Start each journal entry with a sentence about your primary emotion. End the entry with the emotion you’re left with after writing.
5. Pick a specific memory you’re grateful to have shared with your loved one. Close your eyes and relive the details. If the tears come, allow them to wash you clean. Write about why this memory is significant to you.
Use these quotes to trigger ideas. What was most meaningful about the quote? What part of it resonates with you? Start writing and see where the words lead you.
“Tears are the silent language of grief.” — Voltaire
“When a person is born, we rejoice and when they’re married we jubilate, but when they die we pretend nothing has happened.” — Margaret Mead
“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”― Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” ― Anne Lamott
Don’t bottle up the stress of grief. Allow it to express on the page. Someday you’ll be glad you did.