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And all subsided in the hush
that followed, in the calm
of great wings folding
and shadowy forms lying down.

I rose and left that room,
the house of my grief
and my bondage, my book
never again to be opened.

To see as once I saw,
steadied by the darkness
in which I walked
and would make my way.

John Haines

Home   < Grief Recovery Articles  < Suggestions for Grief Journaling

Suggestions for Grief Journaling

by David Fireman, LCSW

Keeping a personal journal can help you process and sort out your thoughts, feelings, memories, images, sensations, etc. As you continue to write, you may begin to gain clarity of where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to be in the future. This writing activity helps you track your own journey through grief. Your journal is private. You are the only one who needs to read it, unless you want to share it with others.


Get a nice notebook. Give yourself as many pages as you think you’ll need for the following sections (these are suggestions and you might come up with some of your own):

1. The meaning of loss
2. A significant childhood loss
3. A significant loss in adolescence
4. A significant loss in adulthood
5. Hurting
6. Helping
7. Healing
8. Needs
9. Puzzles
10. Now
11. Beyond now

The remainder of the journal will be for periodic entries.

Under the 11 headings do the following:

1. The meaning of loss: write down your thoughts about loss as a universal and personal experience (i.e., all of us go through loss at some point in life, but we each do so in unique ways). Also, if the experience of loss means something to you, what is that?

2. Significant loss in childhood: write down how you felt when you had a loss as a child and how you feel now about that loss. What made it hard? What made it bearable? What made it easy? What are the most striking parts of your loss? In what ways do you feel the loss affected or changed you? Looking back, can you see any value in going through your loss? If so, what is it? If not, then say so too.

3. Significant loss in adolescence: same as above except for age.

4. Significant loss in adulthood: same as above except for age.

5. Hurting: write down your present wounds and compare them to earlier times.

6. Helping: write down what has helped you cope with or heal your wounds.

7. Healing: write down your resources and healings after past losses. How are you healing your current grief?

8. Needs: What are your current needs? What would help you be self-respecting and caring of yourself now?

9. Puzzles: What curiosities and unanswered questions do you have about your loss(es)?

10. Now: How do you currently relate to your loss(es)? What do you notice about your present moment experience of being here and living with a history of loss(es)?

11. Beyond now: write down your fantasies and dreams about the future. What plans do you have for recovering newness and meaning in your life again?

Periodic entries: set up a private time and place for you to record your entries during the next few months. Your journal-writing schedule can be daily or weekly with a minimum writing time of 20 minutes.

Many people who begin a journal in a time of grief find that they develop an inner capacity to listen more and more closely and compassionately to themselves and others, thereby enhancing their healing process.

Copyright, 2011
David Fireman, LCSW

The Center is expanding.

Center for Grief Recovery and Therapeutic Services has immediate openings for two full-time licensed psychologists. Click here for more information

The Center is expanding. Click here to for more about our newest clincial professional counselor, Elizabeth Cerven

New Groups

The Center is now taking names for new Healing Our Losses Group. See attached flyer and FAQ for detailed info. Contact Us by phone or email to find out more.

New Workshops
Center colleague Allan Schnarr, MDiv, PhD offering new CHANGE OF HEART . . . . Vulnerability and Self-transcendence workshop . . . [read more]

Center colleague Allan Schnarr, MDiv, PhD offering new "TRANSFORMING LOVE - Creativity as a way of new life" workshop . . . [read more]

News and Events
Thank You! Our 30th Anniversary celebration was a hit. To read more, click on this link.

Center Grief Recovery celebrates 30 Years with Open House Fundraiser. To learn more, click on this link.

We are excited to announce that Paul Martin, PsyD has become the Center's assistant director. To learn more about Paul's practice click on this link.

The Center Expands Again! Please join us in welcoming Megan Kelleher, LCSW who comes to us with wonderfully empathic presence, and a broad range of helping skills. You can learn more about her by visiting our Therapists section or clicking on this link.

Community Walk for Grief Support: Celebrating 25 Years of Transformation
The Center celebrated its 25th year anniversary with a fund raiser walk in Rogers Park, Chicago on June 4.
[read more]

New Articles

New interview on ideas for what to say and do to support the bereaved, by the Center's Meg Kelleher, LCSW. [read here]

Pain Bonds Us - I feel close to you when you let your pain show. A protective shield inside me slides away. [read more]

Private Practice: Dynamic Psychotherapy and Bereavement Counseling (CEU) [read more]

You Know Therapy Is Working When . . . - You feel increasingly uncomfortable with the status quo when it is causing harm. [read more]

Ideas About Mourning - For the griever the future feels shattered; everything hoped for is broken and gone/ lost like a broken mirror. [read more]

Myths and Realities of Mourning - Regrettably, our society maintains a host of unrealistic assumptions and inappropriate expectations when it comes to the work of grief and mourning. Here are some myths to consider: [read more]

The Difference Between Grief and Mourning - It is critical to know the difference between grief and mourning. Both processes are there to help the bereaved face the reality that their loved one is gone and then to slowly begin to accommodate to that fact. [read more]


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