The Grief Journal

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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.