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February 6, 2011

Journal Your Way To Healing

How would you like to have a trusted friend available any hour of the day or night who would let you pour out your heart and never criticize you or tell you to “get on with life?”
Keeping a journal can give you just such a friend.
Journals are helpful at any time in your life, but they can be especially therapeutic during stressful times such as during grief or during times of making major decisions. If you don’t have someone close to discuss things with who understands what you’re going through, your journal can be of very great value.
Anyone can keep a journal. You don’t have to be a writer. You don’t have to know how to spell or how to use correct punctuation. Neatness is not important for a journal. It’s for your eyes only.
There are many different reasons for keeping a journal, but this article will deal with its value for our healing after losing your precious loved one.
When you write in a journal, you emotions are poured out bit by bit as you write. Those of you who have never written the events down until your loved one’s birthday or anniversary of loss have found that there are so many emotions bottled up, it’s excruciatingly painful for they tumble out in a rush, tearing your wounded heart afresh.
What is the difference between a journal and a diary? A diary is a record of daily events, but journaling is simply writing about how we are affected by these events.
You can record anything you like in your journal. It’s simply a record of what you’re thinking or feeling. You can even have lists in the back of things to do, books to read or helpful quotes.
You can use any paper, but you may find a colorful spiral bound notebook a good way to start. Any size will do. Stationery departments carry attractively bound journals but one of the advantages of a spiral notebook is that after you’ve vented some of your anger, you may feel even better tearing that page out and destroying it!
Writing in a journal is of inestimable value in helping us sort through the difficulties, problems and perplexities of life.
Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what we are feeling about something. People ask bereaved families questions causing us to become tongue-tied or because our mind is so full of pain and perplexities, we end up bawling or doing something which humiliates us. When our minds are a jumbled mess, we add frustration to our day. Writing things out on paper helps to clarify and unscramble the confusion in our mind. Experiences become more bearable and less perplexing when we write them down.
You will be pleasantly amazed how your journal helps sort out things in your mind. Setting time aside for occasional “journal breaks” will be so rewarding.
As bereaved people, we often feel we’re on top of an emotional volcano about to erupt. When we find our emotions are at a breaking point, we’re overloaded with stress. One simple relief from this stress can be journaling. Whether you ever re-read what you’ve written doesn’t matter. Much anger frustration, and hurt can be poured out harmlessly on paper. Tears may flow as we write, but these tears are healing. Later, we’ll notice that we feel less “ready to break.” With a healthy outlet for our festering emotions, we are making room for healing balm to be poured on our wounded heart.
Sometimes there are so many decisions to be made, our minds are in a whirl. If we just sit down and write out the decisions, making two columns underneath for listing advantages and disadvantages of them, it can save us hours of inner turmoil. Writing things out helps clarify in our own mind what to do.
Date your entries. Later on, if you should decide to re-read your journal, you can see how far you’ve come. You’ll appreciate having the writings dated then.
Don’t be a slave to your journal -- it’s to be a friend. Only write in it when you want to. Five minutes a day or one-half hour a week may fit your lifestyle best. You may go for days or weeks without writing. However, you might like to post an update each week during those lulls. Later, you’ll enjoy reading those updates.
Your family will also reap benefits from your journal. With this avenue for venting your pain, you’re less apt to take your frustrations out on them.
We all have occasional setbacks on our journey to healing. Re-reading your journal later, it’s easier to see encouraging progress.
Why not try to spend a few minutes each week for the next few weeks, writing about the death of your loved one or how you’re coping? Your disappointment in how people avoid you or the warmth of new friends you’re making are good to include. Reminisce about your loved one and eventually include how the death occurred. The painful things are often accompanied with tears, but they will be cleansing and healing.
May you find your journal to be a very good friend -- one to whom you can tell everything. Let it be a friend who plays a valuable role in your healing. ---Carol Ruth Blackman

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