When people are grieving, one of the most important things they can do is to express that grief. Being heard is an essential element of healthy grieving. The problem comes when life circumstances prevent us from speaking as we really need to or when we feel that no one understands, no one is listening. Then, sorrow is stifled and stuck inside our hearts, where it can swirl around and do serious damage, often coming out much later in destructive ways and breeding anger, frustration, and more pain. Our physical health may suffer. Certainly our emotional well-being is at risk. It is difficult to preserve or initiate good relationships with other people when we feel so disconnected from everything, even ourselves. All of this happens at a time when we don't feel like doing the difficult work grieving demands. After suicide, our strength and resiliency are depleted; feeling heard is one way to build back those stores.
We especially need to feel heard by those we love, but since they are grieving, too, it may be difficult for them to hear us. They are suffering their own pain and possibly dealing with it differently and healing at a different speed. Ages, the types of loss (child, sibling, parent, spouse...and there are many others), personalities, beliefs, financial circumstances, demands on our lives: all these affect the way we grieve.
Do you feel that someone hears you? If so, you probably feel supported and loved. If not, you may feel alone and isolated, carrying an extra helping of pain. Journaling is a healing technique that is inexpensive (start with a notebook and pen) and private (share only what you wish).
Here are a couple of journal prompts to get you started on your own grief journal:
1) I fear ______________________.
2) If I could be someone else, ____________________________________________________.
Write as much or as little as you like. Even five minutes a day is valuable. The words will come more easily the more you write. And watch my blog for random journal prompts in the future. If you want more, sign up for my email mailing list and receive a free, printable titled "Twelve Journal Prompts for the First Year After Loss." If you are on the list, you will be among the first to know when my newest project - How to Survive Traumatic Loss, the resource kit - becomes available.
Even if you have a lot of healing under your belt, think about this topic in new ways. As you explore what journaling can do for you, think about what you need in order to feel heard. Be specific. Maybe there are ways to let the people in your life know how they can help you, too.
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
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Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
The Joy FM
Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: