Last Updated on June 6, 2021 by Sarah Gallagher
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I’ve gone through an immense amount of turmoil as a widow, and have struggled with expressing it. Grief is an overpowering force that can overtake any normal thoughts, let alone any creativity. However, since I’ve invested in Heather Reese’s blogging course, my creative juices have been inspired. The ideas are coming fast and strong. I’ve rediscovered that as I write, I heal. Writing to cope with grief has been instrumental in learning to live an inspired life again.
When a loved one dies, your creative brain goes into shut down mode. All higher level functionality is put on stand by, as your brain switches to survival mode. First, you have to remember to keep breathing. Later, how to eat. Everything is so heavy and painful so your brain can’t focus on anything other than how to get through each minute. Then later, each hour. And then much later still, each day.
Related post: Creativity Channels Emotions – Blogging
Eventually, time does it’s thing and you’ve healed enough that your brain can start opening up again, letting aspects of your needs other than the primal ones come into view. A want to start running again, or to sit quietly with a book. To go out and socialize again. Or, as for me, starting to write again.
Writing Through Grief
Writing about the loss of a loved one is where the real work of healing begins.
It can lead you to feel things you couldn’t deal with before. You’ve just gone through intense trauma, and your body has shut down any functions that are superfluous – survival mode on. As with any trauma, once the shock wears off you are going to start feeling a heck of a lot. It will come in waves.
Sometimes it will be unexpected, between steps on the sidewalk a memory hits you hard; sometimes you can anticipate it, such as celebrating a holiday, birthday, or anniversary. Instead of letting yourself be buffeted by the waves of emotion that threaten to drown you, channel this energy into your chosen creative outlet.
The more I write, the more it brings back memories of my dearly beloved husband. His encouragement to keep going. His belief that one of us will become the author we both always wanted to be. Writing now brings such pleasure and pain. Sorrow and gratitude. Writing through grief helps quantify these mixed feelings, and as a pressurized soda can releases them from my heart to the page.
Do not anticipate that just one self-worth session will be enough to regurgitate all the bile that has been welling inside. There will be many, many of these needed sessions. Sometimes they can swell up without notice, like a typhoon, and you’ll be grasping at your pen (or paintbrush, or whatever your passion tool is) as your life jacket to keep you from drowning. Writing to cope with your grief will become part of your new routine.
Set A Designated Creative Time In Your Schedule To Write About Your Loss
Once you get to the point where you feel you can experiment with opening up the dam of your creative juices, I would recommend you set aside a certain time to do so. You’re so busy with everything else, all those important survival tasks, it’s too easy to set this aside as an optional. Trust me – your peace of mind taking an hour out of your busy schedule taking care of your mental and emotional health – which I bet you’re in need of right now.
Just make sure you’re allotting at least one hour to writing to cope with your grief. Every good creative session needs permission to relax into it. You can’t force creative juices to come. Don’t yell to your brain, “Okay guys, we have 15 minutes to create something – go!” You will need to allow some time to let yourself go. Maybe meditate first. Or do some stretches. Or just…be.
Just Let It Flow
If you psych yourself up thinking about writing to cope with grief, know that there is no agenda in this exercise. You’re not being graded on this paper. This is for you, and you alone.
This is more than journaling – this is free association writing. There’s no structure needed. No opening statement, no essay, no point to prove. You’re going to put your pen on paper, and then just go.
When you’re writing through your grief, you are going to let go of all expectations and just write whatever comes to you. You might skip from memory to memory. You could wax on for pages over the merest detail. It doesn’t matter. You’re helping your body reconnect to itself.
Writing to Cope With Grief To Find Inspiration Again
Just trust yourself, listen to your limits, take a breath…and let go. For me, this exercise in writing has been extremely therapeutic. It helps me come into my own, without him. This is a big deal. I’m here to bring his stories to life. I’m here to reflect and go deep into myself to find my passion again. Living my life with inspiration, with my grief as a monument to our love.
Writing on my own, without my patron, is so emotional. Yet, when I write I feel him with me. Encouraging me still. By embracing my need to write not only fulfills me…it is also a tribute to him.
I encourage you to find your passion too. What creative avenue will you open yourself up to this month? Maybe start a blog?
Leave a comment below, and I’ll be your cheering squad.