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Ruthless Grieving includes Therapeutic Writing


I cannot count the number of blank journals I have given to friends and family as gifts. I gave my husband and my mother many and they mostly sat blank until the day they died. One time my husband and I were sitting in an outdoor café, people watching and a very elderly couole toddled by one with a walker and the other with a cane. Bob said to me “She’s still trying to get him to journal.”

A very funny comment from a very funny husband, but I want to explain my wish for those I love to journal. The note with those gift journals would read: “I wish for you to express yourself. I wish for you to sort out your thoughts and feelings. I wish for you to be more consciously aware of your own depth. I wish for you to resolve some of your painful history. I wish for you to express your authentic self and to appreciate who you are by giving yourself full expression.”

I have kept a journal since I was a teenager. I always quote the lead in “Dear Diary” and that is what I did. It helped me to establish a sense of identity when I was so unaware of my value and my talents and my worth. I got more deeply into journaling when I got into emotional trouble in my first marriage. One could say that I wrote myself out of that marriage. And thank God that I did. I was stuck in old patterns of relationships from my childhood and as I became aware of them by my writing (and, of course, talking with friends, as well), I started having the courage to assert myself more and to know that I had more choices in life than living out my early conditioning in my alcoholic family.

My journals are filled with good intentions “I have to meditate and do yoga”. I don’t know how many times I needed to write that, but now I do meditate and do yoga – so, it worked.

On a more serious note, when my husband and daughter died less than three months apart, I dove into my journal. I filled book after book with my sadness and my regrets and my memories of them and us. I tried to explain and understand my losses, I wrote angry letters to God, and I created letters of my Higher Power writing back to me. I made lists of regrets and I made lists of gratitudes. I wrote to them and created letters of them responding to me.

My journals were an important part of my Ruthless Grieving and they helped me. You can write anything in a journal and I did. The words were for my eyes alone and that blank book gave me the freedom to say it all. I know that that writing helped me get through my losses.

I don’t journal so much any more. I wrote the book, Ruthless Grieving, The Journey to Acceptance and Beyond and I’m still writing, but not in a personal journal so much anymore. Maybe I should start again.

© 2015 Susan Powers, Ph.D.  --  design by Web Tara