What is a grief journal and should you start one?
For years people have taken to journaling to help organise or record their lives. However, recently, people have turned to journaling as a means to help with both their mental and physical health; including starting what is known as a ‘grief journal.’ A grief journal is a place for you to freely write about how you’re feeling day-to-day regarding your ‘grief journey.’ The whole premise and idea around a grief journal is that so long as you’re writing something, you’re releasing your emotions and not keeping them bottled up. Have you ever thought about writing a grief journal, but are reluctant to start one? Don’t worry – so many people feel similar emotions when attempting to tackle their grief head on; but there are so many benefits to starting.
It could help combat avoidance
Although avoiding reality might be what you think you need initially, avoidance has negative long-term effects on our mental health. By writing a grief journal, you are facing your emotions head-on. Now, we know this sounds scary – as if grief wasn’t scary enough - but, by writing down our emotions, we are subsequently facing them, which leads to understanding and acceptance. Although this won’t ‘fix’ how you’re feeling (nothing will), it can certainly ease your mind a little, knowing you’re slowly coming to terms with everything.
Proven mental health benefits of journaling
Without trying to put a finer point on this: writing helps. Getting emotions, feelings, thoughts, memories and regrets down on paper can give your brain a chance to breathe. Now, more than ever, your mental health will be struggling and a grief journey is going to come with a lot of mental struggles – but getting into the habit of journaling early on is such a valuable tool to really help with your mental health.
Writing is a constructive way to handle emotions
If you’re on a new grief journey, you might be shocked to realise some of the emotions that come with grieving; anger, happiness, gratitude and even jealousy, just to name a few. These emotions are not only hard, but super confusing too. They can cause us to question our own lives and even doubt what we are doing. Journaling is a way for you to organise these emotions and get them down on paper, in the hope they become easier to manage.
Proven physical benefits of journaling
Along with all the mental benefits of journaling, there are a number of proven physical benefits too. People often don’t realise the physical implications that come with grieving, which is why it is so important to recognise when your body is taking a hit as a result of all the emotions you’re feeling. Tiredness, irritability, headaches, aches and pains are just a few physical symptoms you might be experiencing as a result of grief – but, journaling could actually help to ease them a little. As we mentioned before, releasing emotions on paper is extremely beneficial – by writing things down you’re no longer keeping them cramped up inside your head. If the physical implications of grief are really beginning to present themselves, it might be time to start a grief journal.
While we are aware grief isn’t something you’re trying to ‘get over’, because it will always be with you in some form, there are definitely ways to help ‘cope’ with it. If you’re currently exploring ways that might help you then we definitely recommend giving grief journaling a go if it is not something you have considered before.
By Rebecca Thomas