The Grief Journal


Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
~ William Shakespeare


I found my grief journal the other day.

You would not think much of it if you saw it: a nondescript brown book with a small illustration on the cover. It is not very big, but it holds a whole lot of me.

When I bought the book in happier times, its intended use was journaling, which is exactly like blogging, only different. 😉  I never got around to using it that way, and it sat, unopened, for a long time.

In a rare moment of lucidity during my worst times, I decided that I should find the book and use it. I eyed it warily for a long while, not sure if I was really ready to put pen to paper. It seemed like more of a commitment than I could handle. My head was so messed up that I was not sure what to do from one day to the next.

It was difficult at first to write what I felt. I never had had trouble doing that before, but this time was different. I tried to reserve for myself a few moments before I went to sleep to jot down the day’s events and feelings. I thought that would be sufficient. I did not expect entries to ramble for several pages, and I did not anticipate struggling to express myself, but both were common.

Sometimes I would skip weeks at a time because what I was feeling was the same — every hour, every day, every week. Why write it down?

‘Today I was miserable. Again. Cried. Again. I hate my life. Still.’

Other times, I filled the pages with my dreams and nightmares. I wrote about family dynamics and how they changed; I wrote about how I felt like an observer in my own life; I wrote about how helpless and hopeless I felt.

I also wrote about Mr. Stuck and about how his love and support kept me afloat when I was sure I was drowning. I wrote about how grateful I was to him for standing by me in the worst of times. I wrote that if I could get through this – if we could get through this – nothing could tear us apart. I know not everyone has someone like him in their lives, and that is a shame, because he was the one who kept me from stepping off into that abyss. I would not be where I am today without him.

Reading that journal brings many hard memories back. It is difficult to read both in content and because my handwriting is very sloppy in spots. I can only read so much before I need to do something else.

I have wanted to burn that book many times over the years, but I am glad I never did. It gives insight to my journey. It also fills in some of the blanks of my memory. I never finished filling the pages; I kept the journal for several months and then abandoned it. In a way, I wish I had continued. I think I stopped because I was in counseling and I had a safe place to open up.

I will post some excerpts in the future to help illustrate my thought processes back then. A grief journal is a good thing for many people; it sure was for me. There is therapy in being able to form your thoughts and feelings into some kind of narrative.  Like they say, the first step in fixing a problem is identifying it.  At first, it was hard to find my way.  I could not put words to what was in my head and my heart.  Being able to do that was progress for me; it meant that I could name it and own it.

I see plenty of blogs out there that read like a grief journal does, and I am glad that those bloggers can use this medium to help themselves heal.  A blog is so much more public than a little book tucked into a nightstand; but it brings with it a community of people who commiserate with you and help you along.  Everyone has his own story of loss, of pain, of struggle.

With a grief journal, you do not know about everyone else out there who has walked through the fire; with a blog, you can reach them.

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8 thoughts on “The Grief Journal”

  1. That’s a tough one to read. Lots of myself in those lines. I am glad you have Mr. Stuck; I like him, too. Pain and depression are such isolating entities. We all go through them, but each in his/her own way, kinda paralleling each other. And we don’t ‘meet’ until we share with others. Then our paths can intersect and we can each give and take what we need to keep on truckin’. Good post!

  2. Robbyn seems to have the words to express the way I feel about your blogging , Beck. Sometimes her short comments were verbatim to what I was thinking …so I just let my reply alone. You always know what to say , and say it beautifully. This is no exception… the subject was very hard to express- but it seemed like you went into MY heart and wrote it for me as well. Your blogs are always “well-said”. Wish I had command of the English language and how to express myself as well as you can…
    Thank you for another blog… “well-said”, Beck, “well-said”. <3

  3. Hi Beautiful Becky – I have several journals and journal entries on note cards, napkins, envelopes – all things I needed to get out of my head and heart. All filled with tales of grief, joy, pleasure, pain, anguish and ecstasy. Your entry reflects much of how I feel periodically. I know that I will, forever, experience moments of grief. Feelings that must come out, MUST come out. Just like those damned spots (since you’ve involved Shakespeare). Thank you. You motivate me. Now, I just need to figure out where that dadgum blog is that I created and get to expressing myself….love you, much!

    1. Thank you, Barbara — Love you right back!
      I know you have loss and pain in your life; one of the things I admire most about you is your ability to radiate that beautiful smile and share your soul. I would love to see you blog. You have written some of the most engaging posts on FB that I have ever had the pleasure to read. I know you would be a fabulous blogger. The world needs your voice!!
      Grief is such a universal experience — but we all go through it so differently. I am so grateful for my experiences, as horrible as they were. I have learned so much in these 14 years.
      Please go find those posts and that blog and get writing. Let me tell you — it feels wonderful.

  4. Oh, thank you, Terry — what a thoughtful reply. I am so glad that you feel that way. If I can put the words out there, and we can all express them, maybe it will help. Please never feel like you don’t want to comment because someone else said what you were thinking. I read and appreciate every single comment on my posts. It means so much to me. Please keep reading. xoxo
    And I wish I had the ability to draw, sculpt, paint, craft, and sketch like you can. A wise lady at work said to me, ‘We all have our strengths.”

  5. I had a grief journal, too. And, like yours, it now sits in a drawer beside my bed just in case I should ever need it again. I had never journaled prior to that and it was very helpful to record my weird dreams and wild emotions that were part of my shattered self at the time.

    Every time we go public with our grief, it helps someone or lots of someones, Becky. You’re doing a good thing.

    1. Thank you, Bobbi. It’s tough to put myself out there like this; you know that well. But I am convinced that someone, somewhere, will find some comfort, or hope, or empathy here.

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