Inside: If you’ve experienced trauma, writing can be an incredibly useful way to process difficult emotions. Here are 30 grief journal prompts to help guide you.
Warning: Deeply troubling situations are best explored with the help of an experienced therapist. You might want to seek professional support to help you start to deal with your grief before trying journal writing.
Coping with a serious illness means many ups and downs. Today has been a down for me. Maybe it’s been a down for you, too?
Among the many undesirable things that disease will bring you (Hello, anxiety!), grief is high on that list. Processing trauma in your life is incredibly difficult, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
I’ve talked with a therapist and I’ve talked with friends and family. But, to be honest, when I’m at my lowest, I really just want to be alone with my thoughts.
Sometimes, I can feel so alone in my grief that it doesn’t feel like anyone close to me can relate. It’s easier for me to process my thoughts and emotions through writing.
What does grief feel like?
Grief feels like you’re suffocating from sadness. It’s like being in a pool of sorrow where you’re barely managing to keep your head above water. You keep waiting for someone to throw you a lifesaver, but it never happens.
Instead, your left to wade through the sorrow until the pool drains itself using ⅛” plug valve. It’s a slow and painful process and, depending on the size of the pool, a process that may never completely end.
Does writing help with grief?
Through personal experience, I would say yes. While you’re writing, you may feel overcome with sadness. Crying is natural.
In addition, crying may help you reregulate your emotional equilibrium. Researchers at Yale University found that crying, whether it be from elation, grief, surprise, etc., maybe your body’s way of recovering from such strong emotions.
What do you write in a grief journal?
Anything. There are no rules. You can write whatever comes to mind or you can let the grief journal prompts below guide you. The most important thing is that you don’t judge yourself and you just let go. The words don’t have to make sense. They just have to flow freely.
For an extra cathartic effect, you could tear the page from the grief journal and burn it as a way of fully letting go.
Caveat – I’ve never done this. but it’s something they show in movies! Let me reiterate, I am not a licensed professional. I’m just a grieving person. Please do not take anything I say as real medical advice.
30 Grief Journal Prompts to Help You Process Difficult Emotions
- How would you describe the way your feeling to someone else?
- What would it feel like if the grieving subsided?
- What are the advantages (if any) of dealing with such a difficult situation?
- How has this challenge changed you as a person?
- If you could write a letter to your past self (or a loved one), what would it say?
- What is something that always makes you feel better?
- Is there anything that you’ve never said out loud that you want to get off your chest?
- Is there someone who has been a source of support for you? What would you say to them?
- Do you feel alone or supported in your grief?
- What is a daily ritual that you could try each day to make it just a little bit easier?
- What memory would you like to relive?
- Is there anything that triggers your grief?
- Do you need to forgive someone or maybe yourself?
- Are there any what-if scenarios that keep replaying in your head?
- If you were to die tomorrow, how would you like to spend your last day on Earth?
- I feel happiest when…
- Describe a time where you were compassionate with yourself.
- Describe the last time that you were truly happy.
- Where do your thoughts go when they start to wander?
- When do you hurt the worst? Is there anything that you can do during these moments to help?
- Do you believe that grief and happiness can coexist?
- Have you allowed yourself the time to process your emotions?
- How does it feel when you release your emotions through writing?
- In a perfect world, I would…
- Can you take what you’ve learned from this difficult situation and help someone else?
- Tomorrow, I will wake up and…
- Do you believe in the saying “Everything happens for a reason?”
- Think of one thing that you would like to accomplish by this time next year.
- What would your life look like if this event never happened?
- I feel sad, but I want to feel…
Final Thoughts on 30 Grief Journal Prompts to Process Difficult Emotions
I truly hope that these grief journal prompts help you to process your difficult emotions. I can’t say it enough, but wading through trauma is incredibly difficult. Sometimes the sadness feels like it’s never-ending. During these times, I found that it’s best for me to write.
It will be hard while you are writing, but afterward, you should feel better. It should feel like you released toxins both literally and figuratively from your body. If your stuck and don’t know where to start, print out the grief journal prompts and save them in your grief journal.
Have you used grief journal prompts to help you process emotions? Tell me in the comments below!
Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.