What are your preferred ways to process your feelings? The emotions we feel aren’t always easy to understand, so sometimes we need to spend some time coming to terms with what we’re feeling. This is especially true for intense emotions, like when we’re grieving. Some people like to use physical movement, like dancing, running, or stretching to process what they’re feeling. Others prefer more introspective work like art therapy or journaling. Having a regular practice for working through your emotions can help you prevent burying your feelings and can be a source of support for when you’re going through a hard time. Journaling, especially, can help us understand our responses to hard things like grief.
Since we are currently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, many of us are cut off from our typical means of support. Taking the time to journal regularly can be a great way to check-in with yourself and process the way you’re feeling even if you can’t process things the way you’d normally like to. There is a lot happening in the world right now, and you may feel like you can’t keep on top of it. A journal can be a helpful space to work through the confusing emotions that can come up when the world is changing rapidly. We are also encountering death on a scale we have never seen before. We are regularly breaking records for loss of life as a result of this pandemic, so more Americans than ever before are dealing with grief and the grieving process.
A journal can help you process your grief in a few different ways. It can be a place for you to write down things you don’t want to forget about the person you’re grieving. You can write letters to them, even though they can’t read them. Journaling can help you preserve the memory of your loved one. It can also be beneficial to consider the fact that we are mortal beings, especially when we are dealing with loss.
This isn’t to say that your journaling time should be focused on death and dying by any means (especially when there are already record numbers of Americans losing loved ones every single day). However, research has shown that considering the fact that we are inevitably going to die not only helps us get over the fear of death, but it can also help us be inspired to make the most of the time we do have in life. Thinking about death a lot might sound macabre, but it can help make death less scary and unknowable.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. If journaling is something that resonates with you, here are some journaling prompts to use when you’re grieving:
- Today, I’m having a hard time with…
- One thing I want to remember about them is…
- Describe a memory with your loved one that makes you laugh.
- Describe a memory with your loved one that makes you cry.
- What was their favorite holiday?
- Keep a running list of activities you can turn to in order to feel better.
- One cause they were passionate about is…
- Today, I miss…
- Write down a list of people you can turn to for support, either in person or virtually.
- One feeling I’ve felt coming up a lot lately is…
- Write about where you feel your grief in your body. Where does your grief stay?
- Where does your mind go when you let it wander?
- What is one thing you could try to make today easier on yourself?
- I need more of…
- I need less of…
- What is something that makes you feel taken care of?
- Do you feel comfortable asking for help? Why or why not?
- I feel most connected to my loved one when…
- What is a way you can celebrate your loved one’s memory? Can you plant something, cook something, watch something, volunteer something?
- One thing I wish I could do over with them is…
- If I could forgive them for something, it would be…
- If I could forgive myself for something, it would be…
- Write about a time you got along well with your loved one.
- Write about a time you had difficulty getting along with your loved one.
- If you could tell your loved one about your day, what would you tell them?
- How did your loved one make you feel?
- Write a mantra you can return to when you feel overwhelmed by grief.
- What is something you wish your support system would understand?
- What is something you wish your support system could help with.
- What songs make you think of them?
- Make a photo collage in your journal with some of your favorite pictures of them.
- Is there anyone else I know going through this right now? How can we support each other?