A Journal can be a creative tool for processing feelings of grief and loss by providing a private space for expression. Studies have shown that there are health benefits to keeping a journal as it can be a source for self awareness and understanding. Think of your journal as a vessel which holds your thoughts until you are ready for processing them. When finished you can choose to burn or bury your journal as a ritual of completion. If you feel comfortable sharing your personal life you may decide to keep it for your loved ones as a legacy. When sharing a grief process with children set aside some time to journal with them as a quiet activity. You can share entries with each other or agree to keep them private as a way to assure your child that he or she has a safe place to confide in that will be respected.
A few years ago I came across a bundle of journals I had kept as a teenager. It was astounding for me to read about the girl I was and her metamorphosis into womanhood. I felt a great deal of compassion as I read about her trying to find her identity while balancing between childhood and the adult world. I began to appreciate the wisdom of my young self and understand how I developed some of my core values. In reading her perspective I realized how much time has fogged my current memories and perceptions of past events and has made me more forgiving. At a time when I was needing some clarity the journal became a precious gift of healing.
Following are a few ideas for some types of journals that may be helpful for your own creative process (or your journal could be a combination of them all):
- Art or colláge Journal – for collecting pictures, words, sketches, or anything that reflects your feelings and desires. It is best to choose a spiral bound book for this type of journal as the pages will thicken with images as you progress.
- Stream of Consciousness Journal – is for writing or scribbling in for ten minutes or more on anything that enters your mind without judging your thoughts or correcting spelling or grammar.
- Good Days/Bad Days Journal – to devote a page for writing about your day and venting any negative thoughts or feelings that come up. On a mirroring page write what you can find to be the positive aspects or lessons you derived from the day’s experience.
- Uplifting Journal – for collecting positive quotes, listing all your blessings, and writing about what you are grateful for. Include some letters to your future self. This journal is for you to pick up and read at a time when you are in need of encouragement.
- Dream Journal – to tap into your unconscious intuitive self which will offer insightful messages hidden in metaphor and symbology. Focus on what the images mean to you personally and note any strong feelings associated with particular dream imagery.
Write in your journal regularly and leave a space for your future self to add comments. Then pick a time that is meaningful to you (an anniversary, New Year’s Eve, every Equinox or Solstice, etc.) when you read it back to yourself taking time to note any new insights that come to you along the way.
Below are more sources of information on the journaling process: