Journal Therapy: Grief Journal Exercise #1

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Journal Therapy: Grief Journal Exercise #1


Journal Therapy

The grieving process is different for everyone. Losing a loved one is a very painful and personal experience, and you may feel a whole range of emotions, from denial and anger to loneliness and depression.

You might deal with your loss in a completely different way than your brother or mother or spouse, and it can often be hard to talk about how you feel. There is no immediate or magical cure for grief, but writing in a grief journal helps you process your feelings and express yourself in a safe, nonjudgmental place. Use journal therapy to write what might be too difficult to say to other people right now.

Starting today, just begin writing. It may be painful or frustrating at first, but give yourself an hour of uninterrupted time with your journal and see what you come up with. If you don’t finish the exercise in one sitting, come back tomorrow and give yourself another hour.

Grief Journal Exercise #1  

1. Think back on the most vivid memories you have of the person you lost. To spark your memory, you can flip through old photo albums or journal. Choose one of these stories to focus on, close your eyes and try to remember it in detail. Relive the memory in your mind, and then use these questions to write about the experience:

 Where were you?
 What were you doing?
• What were you wearing?
 Who else was there?
 What smells, sounds and sights do you remember about the scene?
 What were your emotions at the time? What emotions do you feel now, looking back on this memory?
 Why is this particular story significant to the relationship you had with your loved one?

2. Find a visual representation of this story. If you have a photo taken that day, paste it into your journal. If not, look through old magazines to find an image that represents your feelings about your memory. You can also make a collage on a page in your journal of many images and words that express your emotions toward this story. Take your time and choose images that mean something to you.

You’ve just taken a big step forward by writing the first entry in your grief journal. Feel free to share observations or advice in the comments below.


When my husband died three months after i had bilateral mastectomies for breast cancer and was due for my 2nd chemotherapy treatment, I began a journal that was dedicated to my grief, my husband and my getting well, both emotionally and physically. 
I still have that journal and can still, almost, physically feel the pain that this journal holds. I can also know the healing that took place within the pages. 
I think this new journaling site (?) is going to benefit so many people. ~ God bless you, Mari and thank you for all of the good "stuff" you send out from your website...sbr
Posted @ Tuesday, August 17, 2010 2:53 PM by Sue Rawlings
Thank you for your comments Sue. I want to tell you how much I love your FB photo. Can I come out to play with you?
Posted @ Tuesday, August 17, 2010 3:53 PM by Mari L. McCarthy
I went to a park with my little great-great nephews and had more fun than they did...Pack your bags and we will meet the plane...sbr
Posted @ Tuesday, August 17, 2010 3:59 PM by Sue Rawlings
Thank you for this blog, I just discovered it today and will be keeping up with it.
Posted @ Monday, September 20, 2010 3:42 PM by Pat
Welcome Pat! Please let us know what articles and topics you'd like to see us publish. WriteON!
Posted @ Monday, September 20, 2010 5:34 PM by Mari L. McCarthy
I really appreciate the sensitivity you show in helping people deal with their grief during the holiday season.  
Not only is the journaling therapy helpful, but I like the combination of using images in collage in your journal to promote connection to your feelings with that person who has passed on.  
I have chosen your post, Journal Therapy, Grief Journal Exercise #1, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day for 11/5/10. I will post it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog Refresh with Dawn Herring.  
Thanks for such a sensitive post on such an important topic.  
Be refreshed, 
Dawn Herring 
Posted @ Friday, November 05, 2010 3:15 PM by Dawn Herring
Each year I dread the end of summer,after dreading special days,and sad dates of summer.I know when Autumn is here,my heart will be heavy without my youngest son going to the Apple Farm with us.I will then try to look forward toThanksgiving,and I am thankful for so much. When it nears i am in a panic!I have to pull it off.Then Christmas,and I never can save enough money for gifts that are reasonably priced,for my grown children,and 7grandchildren. I miss the Joe guy.He with my silly nature,who would make things special.He was the family baby,and died at 20.It's been 8 years and people tell me,"you should be over it by now!" I do better and do not want to use this to stay depressed.It just happens.Joe was the only child of my second marriage.His Dad and I are divorced and my other children are from my first marriage,and all grew up together as brother,sis,sis,and brother.No half,brothers and sisters.It hurts us all.We try so hard to remember the fun the laughs and the silly things of holidays.Alot of Family has passed on.I hope,and start to plan,even today.I will visit Joe's grave before Christmas.<3
Posted @ Friday, November 05, 2010 4:24 PM by mary martin
Thank you, Dawn for choosing my article for the #JournalChat pick of the day. Yes, we need some healthy ways to deal with, be with, sit with our grief rather than stuff it down, suck it in, put on a good face etc. 
Thanks for your comments, Mary, hope this helps.
Posted @ Saturday, November 06, 2010 7:54 AM by Mari L. McCarthy
I have been a journal writer for most of my adult life and I encourage all of my clients to write their stories about the person who died especially when their friends start getting tired of listening.
Posted @ Saturday, November 20, 2010 2:38 PM by Susan - Survive Your Grief
Thank you Susan for your words: "I encourage all of my clients to write their stories about the person who died especially when their friends start getting tired of listening".
Posted @ Sunday, November 21, 2010 2:45 PM by Mari L. McCarthy
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