Grief writing – a new tool for the bereaved
When my husband passed away in 2011, grief writing was a term that did not once cross my path. Yet now, five years later, it seems like every time I turn around there is a course or workshop for grief writing. I am fascinated by the concept of it. I’m sure there are many counselling supports that can give very clinically sound information as to the benefits of grief writing. I’m not really interested in that. On a day-to-day level, I’m not someone who partakes in journal writing in any way, so I can’t say that it appeals to me on that level. And yet I feel drawn to grief writing, that chance to really have an avenue to express what I felt, and continue to feel. I like the idea of grief writing because, I think, it’s so much more than a journal entry. The format, first of all, doesn’t have to be a journal at all. It can be a letter, a book (including fiction), just a few notes jotted down. Anything you want, really. The main point, is that it is a way to express all those deep emotions we have when we’re grieving. Which perhaps is why I’m so drawn to it. It is, in a way, a form of mourning. Mourning is an outward expression of our grief and although we traditionally think of it as a wearing of something, a ribbon, a poppy, an armband, the underlying function of mourning is that it provides a way for the bereaved to express those deep, deep emotions. The advantage of wearing mourning attire is that it serves the function of expressing of grief when words perhaps escape us or are just too difficult to utter. In those early days after my husband passed away, it was enough work just to breathe, let alone have words. Yet now, I think I could wander down the path of words. For some, the words are there right away, and just need to come out. Grief does not have a time limit, and so grief writing seems like a wonderful outlet. Can it still be considered mourning if you choose not to show anyone my grief writing? I think so. As I processed my grief and explored mourning when my husband passed away, I really felt like mourning had 3 main purposes: to express those deep emotions, to identify yourself as someone who is grieving, so that others can support you, and as a token of honor and remembrance. Grief writing, whether someone sees your written work or not, meets these criteria. The moment you write something down, regardless of how formal or informal it is, you have honored your loved one by caring enough to need to sort through your grief. Grief writing is often taken as a workshop, and you can create a sense of community (even online) with the others in your workshop without ever having to show them your writing. And again, regardless of who sees it, the writer has expressed their emotions. So, I would consider grief writing to be a form of mourning. And mourning is such an important part of the grief journey that, as always, I encourage anyone who is bereaved to mourn. Find the way that suits you, but do mourn. Do express your grief.
Take Time – Acknowledge Your Loss – Grieve Together