5 Valuable Ways Writing Can Help You Manage Your Grief
In the days following the horrific events at an Orlando night club, I've seen lots of people share their feelings on Facebook. While it’s emotionally overwhelming to read about the tragedy repeatedly, this writing can be a path to healing for both the writer and the reader.
Many people are sharing similar sentiments, but each person’s writing is expressing grief in different ways. Some sound like journal entries, others sound like calls to actions. Some people are rallying each other to find a support system.
I’m a storyteller.
I can’t express grief in rambling words. I need time to make meaning out of my emotions; to structure them in some form. For this reason, I’ve refrained from speaking out about Orlando. But even without a story, I can offer up some insight on the healing power of writing through grief.
If you’ve read my last blog post, you know I wrote myself through a miscarriage and came out the other side unscathed.
Words do matter.
And regardless of your style of writing, there is therapeutic proof that the written word can help us manage our grief.
Here’s 5 reasons why you should write about your grief:
1. You quiet your mind:
Call it meditation. Stopping long enough to put your feelings on paper has as much to do with sitting calmly and shutting out the world as it does with saying something profound.
It forces us to focus inward.
2. You will feel things:
Most people will initially want to shut out their grief.
Writing does the opposite.
It calls you to move towards your emotions. But this isn’t a bad thing. The closer you get to those uncomfortable feely things, the more opportunity you have to name it, claim it, and move forward.
3. You’ll find your own voice:
When you write about your grief you gain a sense of authority over your experiences. In writing, you lose that feeling of helplessness. Having a voice helps us regain our power.
No one else will ever have your voice.
4. You’ll make meaning out of senseless experiences:
Putting words down in a sentence, then a paragraph, and eventually formulating a beginning, a middle, and an end provides structure.
By encapsulating your grief in words, you are building a framework for your feelings. This structure makes grief feel less open-ended and less likely to invade other aspects of your life.
5. Revision is a process for words AND life:
If you keep writing through grief, you will begin to make changes to your words. As you change your words, your feelings will change, too. This revision keeps us from getting trapped in one emotional state.
We navigate the road of emotions as we revisit the experience.
Bonus: Sharing your work provides reciprocal support. Not only does sharing help others understand how you feel, it also gives the reader a way to connect their grief to yours.
This shared experience of grieving may be the most healing of all.
Whether you pour out your emotions in stream of conscious journaling or structure your feelings into a letter to a specific person, writing can begin the healing process.
Still, grief may never leave you.
But as humans we have the ability to manifest our thoughts, feelings, and desires into something greater than ourselves. Each decision to write our grief is an opportunity to call on higher-order thinking instead of knee-jerk reactions to grief.
How has Orlando affected you? Let me know in the comments section below.