There is one thing we all have in common and that is we all, sooner or later, will lose a partner, friend, or family member to divorce, separation, or death. None of us are immune, it is a part of life unfortunately.
So when we are going through this time of transition—a time where we are adjusting to a person’s absence and are forced to work through our grief, there are a few very important self-care practices we must integrate into our daily lives in order maintain our own mental health.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of weekly therapy for anyone going through grief, along with daily meditation, healthy diet, time with other loved ones, daily walks in nature, sleep, and of course journaling as a daily practice. These activities are the best way to release pain, anger, sadness, frustration, and many other emotions related to loss and also an excellent way to get to know yourself.
In this article, I am solely focusing on journaling for healing.
Here are my essential prompts to include in your daily journal practice:
1. Write everything in pencil. Of course you can use pen as well or trace over the parts you’d like to emphasize. Pencil is easy to erase and change and when we are amidst tough emotions it is easy to get frustrated when we make mistakes with pens, which could lead to us feeling more upset.
1. Record and track your mood and emotions of the day. Perhaps write your current mood at the top of your entry or list out your emotions of the day so you can track your changes and progress.
3. Describe where you are. Your environment is essential, is it your bedroom? Outside on a bench? In a coffee shop? Talk about the environment and how it makes you feel. If you do not feel safe in this environment, move to one where you feel safe and protected. You can draw pictures of your environment or of the people and wildlife around you. It doesn’t have to be good. This helps not only your mindfulness, but also your awareness of what is good for you.
4. Record your good memories and also your bad. This is the hard part. Write about what you remember, the good times and the bad times you had—it all matters and one day you will look back on your good memories fondly and also the lessons you learned from the bad memories.
5. Focus on other people who support you. Reach out to them, write about them—remember, just because one person left, does not mean ALL people left. It is imperative to recall that you are not alone because that can increase depression and suicidal thoughts.
6. Gratefulness. Record the good events and interactions of the day. Or more generally, the parts of your life you are grateful for, like your health, your job, your home, or your animals.
7. If you are angry, write out every single bad word or nasty things you want to say. Then put your journal down and punch your pillow and scream until you are tired. Trust me, it works. PS—don’t send the letters or bad words to anyone.
8. If you are sad, it’s okay. You will be sad for awhile, but understand this emotion changes and transforms into wisdom. These tougher parts of life are meant to teach us about life and ourselves. It’s part of the journey, so reflect on what this sadness teaches you and how this experience can help inform future decisions you might make.
9. Look for quotes that speak to you and save them. Maybe they are your own, maybe someone else’s. Include a different quote in each entry. Save them, you will use them again— one day you may be able to help someone else going through a very difficult time.
10. Get a journal you love. Look at the cover and interior of the book, does it do something for you? Does it feel like a good place to keep your most precious thoughts and emotions? Do you like plain journals? Or an artful cover? Choose a journal that was made for healing or has some type of feature that captures an aspect of yourself.