In this blog, Shantanu describes the benefits of grief journaling to help process and manage grief. We hope you find this post helpful. Get in touch to share your own story or advice for others.
There are numerous ways to process your grief. Grief journaling is perhaps the most self-reliant of all options. You don’t have to depend on another person. You don’t have to be vulnerable in front of anyone else. It is just your diary that is privy to your secrets. Here’s why it could help…
De-clutters the mind
Writing is an excellent exercise if you want to de-clutter your mind and unravel your thoughts. You cannot anticipate tragedy beforehand or avoid grief. However, you can control your reaction to it. It is very easy to marinate in your suffering and feelings about how unfair everything is. Getting back up and fighting back is what takes real courage.
Organise your emotions
Writing is a very cathartic process. It helps you relive, remember, and rethink the experience, but with a different perspective. Write only when you are ready to confront your emotions, prod your feelings, and put yourself under the microscope. It can help you to organise your feelings in an orderly way.
Journaling is one of the best ways to move on from a bad situation. It empties your mind and helps you calm down. Devote an hour every day to sit down, relax, and jot down your thoughts. You can talk about the most mundane of activities, the little ideas you have or the serious stuff. The entire process is almost meditative.
Constructive and creative
There is no checklist for writing a diary. You can note down whatever you want, however you want it. Some people prefer to keep a record of the events in chronological order. Others feel more comfortable writing poetry to express their grief. It is a very constructive and creative way to channel your feelings. Mould your suffering into something beautiful. You can write stories, letters to your future self, little notes of encouragement, and other tit-bits.
Maintaining a journal helps you systematically process your grief. Write down your feelings and thoughts as clearly and lucidly as possible. Pain may be a spontaneous outburst, but journaling it involves some degree of thought and analysis. Don’t dive headlong into the process though. Give yourself ample time to cry, or rage, or whatever emotion you are feeling.
Grief journaling has several physical benefits as well. Keeping your feelings bottled up can lead to increased stress levels. It increases the cortisol levels and reduces the oxytocin levels in the brain. This combination can make you more susceptible to negative emotions. Suppressed grief also triggers high blood pressure, reduced metabolism, decreased immunity and chronic pain.
As well as a way of reducing these risks through expressing your feelings in some form, journaling also builds your inner strength. You emerge stronger than before. You have a healthy, productive coping mechanism to process your emotions. Writing helps you scrutinize your thoughts and reactions. It is a very holistic process that gives you a complete picture of the situation.
Track your progress
There is nothing better than looking back at your feelings with a sense of accomplishment. Wear your battle-worn armour like a badge of honour. What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. And your journal bears testament to your struggle. Reading those little notes, letters, and entries at a future date is a very empowering exercise. And anytime you feel like giving up; you can read your grief journal- your personalised pep talk to you!
Let it go
Grief journaling should help you move on from the past. Like Dumbledore said:
“It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live”
Confront your feelings headlong, deal with it, dust it away, and try to ‘move on’; whatever that means for you! Life is full of surprises and your happily-ever-after is just around the corner. You never know what joy the next moment might bring you. Holding on to grief only fosters more bitterness. You have to let it go and create space for hope.
Shantanu works as an inbound content marketer at GayCelebrant.Melbourne & has helped develop it to cater to the LGBTIQ Wedding industry since 2018.