Journaling After Your Loss by Jennifer Lane

posted in: Uncategorized | 6

I had never been a journal writer before they handed out journals to us at our Survivors of Suicide meeting.  The idea of my silly thoughts and words being recorded for someone or myself to pick up years later and judge made me hesitant to journal.

Our group leader shared how journaling had been her lifeline during the grief of losing her son to suicide.

I took it home and I wrote.

You can use your journal a couple different ways.  One way is “yuck” journaling.  Basically, you write all the yucky feeling and thoughts that are swirling around your brain.  You get them out.  You put them down on paper.  It is a safe place to get out the anger, resentment, bitterness, or guilt you might be feeling.  Once you’ve voiced those yucky thoughts, you can attempt moving on from them.  Having those yucky thoughts down on paper allows you to look at them objectively.  You can decide whether or not those thoughts are true or not, whether the feelings are worth hanging onto or letting go.

 

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Another way you can use your journal is letter writing.  When you have lost your loved one to suicide, there isn’t a chance to say goodbye.  In journaling letters to your lost loved one, you have a chance to tell him or her what you are thinking and feeling.  You can have a conversation, at least, a one-sided one.  You can be gentle, imagining that your loved one is actually reading it.  You can be harsh, knowing that you can say anything since your loved one will never actually read it.  You can do both if you’d like.  Write one draft that combines “yuck” journaling and letter writing, and then you can write another letter that is more compassionate.

The funny thing about journaling is that I was afraid of looking at those thoughts, the words and feelings I put down on paper until it wasn’t a possibility.

It has been 5 years since I lost my brother to suicide.  I journaled and wrote him letters in that journal that I had been given in the meeting.  I “yuck” journaled.  A few weeks ago I looked for that journal, and I couldn’t find it.  My journal was lost, probably in our last move.  I was hopeful that I could look at my journaling and see that I had come a long way in healing from that loss, but I couldn’t find my journal.  I mourned the loss of my journal, which brought up those feelings of loss of my brother.

Even if I never find my journal, I’m so glad that I was given the tool of journaling as a way to navigate my grief.  It was freeing to write down my thoughts and feelings, good and bad.  Try it.  I think it could be freeing and helpful for you too.

6 Responses

  1. Mary Jane Williamson
    | Reply

    I started a journal in February. My daughter died from suicide on December 17, 2015. Yes, there are a lot if things I’ve written that, to other people, may sound terrible but they are my thoughts at that time. I have been happy, sad, crying and screaming. It has been the most difficult time of my life. Writing has helped me so much. They are my thoughts and my feelings. What other people would think if they read them wouldn’t bother me at all. They are my thoughts and feelings about my beautiful daughter who felt we would be better off without her. Her mind went to a very dark place and we could not save her and she couldn’t save herself. I miss her so much and it’s hard to explain that hurt.

  2. Kathy
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing, many friends (as well as my counselor) have suggested journaling as a way for me to work through this season of grieving and begin healing. My brother also committed suicide, on new years eve of last year. I tried writing out my thoughts and feelings in the first few months after he died, but writing the words and seeing them on paper was just too painful. A year, two months and seven days later, it is still so hard to believe that this even happened. Maybe I will try again.

  3. Ricky's girl
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    I journal, I started one week after my fiance took his life 16 months ago. He did this 2months before our wedding day. I had no clue…I thought. Now I have re-read my journal and I see things that I wrote one year ago, and it makes alittle more sense to me now. I also see how much I have grown. I have gone through all the stages of survival from suicide and still do, everyday but, it’s softer and less intrusive. I do believe he did this spur of the moment not realizing the wake of the aftermath he left me with. The Wedding, the bills, the families, friends and not to mention finding his corpse and having that etched into my mind forever. These are the things you can write in your journal and cry, shout, let out all your emotions, even just wanting to be near them again in heaven. Yes I would write things that may look like I would take my own life. But, now I am stronger and know Life is messy, hard, and unfair. And I know that having the courage to live is a much healthier state of mind and we should not sweat the small stuff the gets us down and go to such a dark place. Journal! It is worth your time and piece of mind. It will let you know how far you have come when life feels like you will never recover. I started writting about beautiful things and future plans in a positive way so I can keep moving forward, and change my attitude to one day get there Again!!!

  4. Brandi M.
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    Thank you all for sharing.. it’s been only a 5 months since my only friend killed herself. I had recently written directly to her because I just did not know what to do with all the things inside and how much I miss and needed her..it has been a bit of a release, and if Itoo if keeping a journal would be afraid of re reading and so I have burned the letters I have written… I am struggling greatly but I know I’m not alone… and tho I too have struggled with suicidal or my whole life, I am not going to give up.. the people n pain left behind might just be that much greater than my own pain…

  5. Brandi M.
    | Reply

    Thank you all for sharing.. it’s been only a 5 months since my only friend killed herself. I had recently written directly to her because I just did not know what to do with all the things inside and how much I miss and needed her..it has been a bit of a release, and if Itoo if keeping a journal would be afraid of re reading and so I have burned the letters I have written… I am struggling greatly but I know I’m not alone… and tho I too have struggled with suicidal or my whole life, I am not going to give up.. the people n pain left behind might just be that much greater than my own pain…can I just say that I am so sorry you lost your journal? I sure that was devastating to you after being such a wonderful source of outlet.

  6. Lisa Vargas
    | Reply

    Yesterday (3/15/16) was my daughters 6 month mark. I didn’t realize it til early afternoon. She came to me in a dream the night before and I was just so happy because it was one of those “it felt so real” kinda dreams.
    Anyway, when I realized the died….all the bad feelings came and hit me like it was the moment I found her. I was sitting at work and couldn’t stop crying. After I calmed down, for the 1st time, I wrote in my journal. Not 1st time writing, 1st time writing about that day and all the details I have and won’t share with others. I also was writing to her. I know she can read mine and everyone else’s journals. So when I write, whatever it is, I ALWAYS write something directly to her. It really makes me feel better.
    Keep writing. If it’s a sentence or pages.

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