It’s no secret that grief raises some big emotions. These are feelings to be reckoned with! In other words, it can be difficult to deal with the thoughts in your mind, let alone daily life (and work) during this emotional time. Grief experts agree that journalling can help people navigate this experience, as it is a beneficial tool for exploring and working through your many emotions during this time.
If you’d like to start a grief journal, but you’re feeling a little stuck, here are our top tips for getting started:
Tips for starting a grief journal
Write in whatever format feels right for you.
It doesn’t have to be a standard journal entry. You could jot down some words, lyrics, a quote or get creative with a comic strip. The important thing is to write regularly.
You don’t have to write for your future self.
It may help to write as if no one’s reading. Although, your diary entries may help you in the future. So, feel free to leave some notes for future you.
Choose to destroy or put away past entries.
It may feel too painful or raw to harbour sad or difficult memories in your grief journal. In this case, you can rip or cut them out. It’s completely up to you.
Set small writing goals.
You certainly don’t have to write every day, but you can set small, achievable goals to stay on track. For example, you could aim to write for at least 10 minutes a day.
Don’t give up too soon.
You may feel disheartened if grief journalling doesn’t provide much solace at first. Consider changing up the format, like switching from paper to digital, or getting started on a screenplay instead of a standard diary entry.
If you’re finding it hard to get started, writing prompts can help. Read our best writing prompts below:
Grief journal writing prompts
Writing about your emotions when you’re grieving is a very healthy thing to do. For some, emotions that are ignored or pushed down deep inside can manifest in the form of outbursts, unhealthy coping mechanisms or even mental health symptoms. So it’s always best to talk, write or at least think about your feelings, and how they are affecting you.
Some emotion-focused grief prompts to use include:
- What emotions am I suppressing/finding hard to feel right now?
- When I feel deep emotions, what part of my body is most impacted?
- What is the hardest part of this experience for me?
- Have I allowed myself to fully grieve?
- When I close my eyes and let my mind wander, what do I see? What feelings does this memory/person/location bring up?
- What safeguards should I put in place to heal?
- How can my support system help me right now?
Prompts to help you remember your loved one
You may not feel ready to write about your loved one, and that’s okay. When and if you feel ready, you can start here:
- What’s my most powerful memory with my loved one?
- What’s my funniest memory with my loved one?
- What do I miss most about my loved one?
- When do I feel my grief the most?
- What was my loved one’s greatest accomplishment and why?
- What is a moment I will cherish forever?
- What message or lesson from my loved one will I pass down to others?
General grief journal prompts to get started
If you aren't quite ready to get too specific with your journalling, you might like to start with something a little more general like one of these prompts:
- Today, I am missing …
- I am really struggling with …
- I have been feeling a lot of …
- I could use more of …
- I can’t stop feeling …
- I think it might be helpful to …
- I’d like to …
Anyone can start a grief journal; you don’t have to be a talented writer to get your thoughts and feelings on a page. Whether you’re writing with pen and paper or using a digital program, journaling through grief is believed to be a beneficial way to harness and deal with grief. From screenwriting to drafting poems to utilising writing prompts, there are so many ways to get started with grief journalling. All you have to do is pick up a journal and a pen (or grab your computer) and get started.
Found this guide helpful? You may like our guide to Creating New Traditions After Death.