how to journal about your grief / pick me up box
Grief,  Journal,  Self Care

How to Start Journaling About Your Grief // Pick Me Up Box Tips

“It’s been a year since I embarked on a grief journaling weekend, in the middle of nowhere, to start processing 12 years of built up prolonged grief that I had been holding inside me since my mom died…”

Guest Article Written By: Felicia Bates, Pick Me Up Box

I looked at my husband, asked him to take care of our almost 2-year-old daughter for 3 days, and drove to a small Airbnb in the country for solitude and grief processing.

Other than over a decade of unresolved grief, I finally arrived to this milestone in my life after a year of therapy and reading The Grief Recovery Handbook.

Making this decision to (1) take time for me, (2) start resolving my grief, and (3) leave my family for a weekend that seemed like a selfish “all about me” weekend was REALLY REALLY difficult.

It took me two months to commit.

It was the best decision I ever made.

Anyone that is depressed, anxious, or knows that they are suffering from grief, whether it be from death, divorce, moving, or any change to your normal routine… take time for yourself to process the change.

Remember, any type of significant change = grief.

You don’t have to journal, but it is one of the best ways to process what you are going through and get all your thoughts out of your head.

Here’s how I did it…

felicia bates - pick me up box - solitude

Make the commitment.

Regardless of your situation, if you think you need time to process something in your life whether it be a small or big change. TAKE THE TIME. It can be as little as 15 minutes to do some mindful meditation, or as long as a multi-month travel spree to get away. There is no amount of time too small or too large to take for yourself. And no, it is not selfish.

For me, 3 days was enough to process the grief journey I had already started.

Seek solitude.

Go somewhere where you won’t be distracted. Where you can focus. Even somewhere where you haven’t been before. Pick a new scene and change of pace locally or remotely, preferably with zero to very little human interaction. This is about you, not about the world around you. Don’t pick an environment that is stressful. Processing change takes a calm and serene setting if possible so that you can effectively clear your mind.

I was able to do this by renting a small guest house – similar to a one room studio – in the middle of nowhere halfway between Houston and Austin TX. I was able to surround myself with a beautiful countryside and make friends with some cows and a horse. Being in nature and having very little human interaction (less than 30 minutes per day) was exactly what I needed.

grief recovery handbook - felicia bates - pick me up box

Make a journaling plan.

What is it exactly that you need to process? Do you need to process a relationship that’s ended because of death, divorce, or some other means? Do you need to process a decision that will change your life drastically, or already has changed your life drastically? Whatever it may be, figure out what exactly it is so that you can journal about it.

Since I had already been through therapy and knew that I needed to process my grief, I knew that the root of it was all about the relationship between my mom and I. What it was like when she was alive, how her death affected me, and how my routine and life changed once she was gone.

This is going to be different for everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in identifying what to process and plan on journaling for. Ask a friend. Google. Ask your therapist if you have one. There are a lot of resources.

GO. Get started.

If you decided to go somewhere, then go! If you’re taking a 15-minute meditation break (with or without journaling) to process something small, then go sit in the grass somewhere and do it. Heck, go hide out from work and sit in your car for a few minutes if you need to. Just get away.

Once you’re there, here are some journaling schedule tips…

(These tips are based on my 3-day journaling weekend and can be adjusted as needed to accommodate your journaling schedule.)

Day One:

For the first 20 minutes just write down whatever comes into your head about the change you need to process.

Think about HOW you got here and maybe a little bit of the WHY.

The first words I wrote when I started were these.

It’s official. I packed up what feels like my entire childhood, drove through Burger King for some French toast sticks, blasted some Celine Dion and Matchbox 20, and continued off into to the country.

I’m almost a Gilmore Girl.

At the moment, I feel like Lorelei Gilmore in A Year in the Life going on her “Wild” journey. I guess this is my version of that. Leaving my husband and almost 2-year-old daughter at home for the weekend to go to New Ulm Texas where there isn’t even a grocery store. After almost a year of therapy, and a shit ton of revelations about my personal life, it was finally time to get away. To embrace the one relationship that is so painful to embrace. The one relationship that I can’t believe I’m living without in my adult life.

Take a 10-minute break.

For 30-60 minutes start writing down memories and situations that had an impact on how you think about this change in your life that you’re processing.

Take a 30-minute break and eat something.

For 60-90 minutes write some more memories…

They will come to you.

Day 2:

Reflect on some of the memories you wrote down the day before.

For the first 20 minutes write down additional memories just like you did yesterday.

Take a 10-minute break.

For 30-60 minutes write down reflections on your life now post-change… what’s different, what your missing, what memories you wish you could create but can’t, etc.

Take a 30-minute break and eat something.

For 60-90 minutes write about the event itself that changed your life – be as detailed as possible.

Day 3:

Reflect on everything you’ve written the past two days.

For the first 20 minutes, write down whatever other things come to mind.

Take a 10-minute break.

Go do something fun for at least 60 minutes AND eat something.

For 60-90 minutes write a goodbye letter to your ex, to a lost loved one, to your last house, to whatever it is that is now missing in your current life post-change.

Don’t Journal for more than 3 hours in a day – take breaks, eat, relax, go for walks, rest your mind, read something funny, etc. It might not seem like it now, but this is heavy stuff. Your thoughts and emotions are going to be all over the place.

Have some fun in-between your journaling sessions and don’t force yourself to journal if you don’t think you should. Give yourself time. None of this is easy.

For the last entry – the goodbye letter – take as much ALONE time as you need after writing the letter so that you can process everything you just went through. Take a deep breath and get yourself back into a good place before engaging with humans again.

Success! Take a break before writing again.

You just went on an amazing journey processing your grief through journaling. It’s okay to write small thoguths that pop into your head here and there just to get them out of your mind so they don’t linger, but keep them small 5-10-minute writing sessions. Don’t embark on a major journaling session for at least 3 months.

To be honest, I haven’t spent more than 10 minutes once a month writing about my relationship with my mom or her death. That’s how therapeutic my grief journaling weekend was for me.

Additional thoughts…

I sincerely hope that these tips help anyone going through a major change.

I strongly recommend The Grief Recovery Handbook as a starting point for coping with loss.

I strongly recommend seeking professional help for those that don’t think they can move forward on their own.

If you start journaling, and the experience is too intense…

Stop.

Take a break.

Get back to it when you are ready, or don’t do it at all.

There are plenty of other options out there, this just happens to be the one that really helped me.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS…

I sincerely hope that these tips help anyone going through a major change.

I strongly recommend The Grief Recovery Handbook as a starting point for coping with loss.

I strongly recommend seeking professional help for those that don’t think they can move forward on their own.

If you start journaling, and the experience is too intense… stop. Take a break. Get back to it when you are ready, or don’t do it at all. There are plenty of other options out there, this just happens to be the one that really helped me.

grief recovery hndbook - felicia bates - pick me up box

Getting help. 

My passion is helping people discover themselves and help them on whatever self-improvement journey they are embarking on. While grief is something I’m in the process in specializing in, there is A LOT of crossover into general self-care, depression, and anxiety. My big push is to #fighttheblues!

Self-improvement is not something to face alone. We need a community and resources. Please help me build this community by completing my survey on pickmeupbox.com. It will take 5 minutes or less and help me provide everyone the tools they need each month to help them on their journey to self-improvement and self-care!

I have so much planned for 2019 and cannot wait to hear from more of you on your experience and needs.

felicia bates - pick me up boxFelicia Bates // Author Bio

Felicia has 12 years of suffering from complicated grief after her mom died. Since then she has been on a journey to take care of herself, her mental state, and help others do the same.

Her experience as a product manager makes her determined to disrupt the subscription box market with the best self-care box to help people along their life journey and search for happiness.

Visit Pick Me Up Box today and take a quick survey to help her build her service so that she can provide the best self-improvement resources possible!

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