This post is all about using grief journaling to cope with all kinds of loss.
I know it might seem like there’s no way of lessening the tremendous sense of sorrow you feel after a loss. Sometimes it feels like the despair is so vast, it will swallow you whole.
With my last pregnancy loss, one of the hardest parts was the mental fatigue. I was exhausted from thinking about everything. About nothing.
It felt impossible to get out of my head and process the emotions I was experiencing, especially because I felt that no one understood what I was truly going through.
Although it was difficult to do at first, one of the things that helped me process my thoughts and emotions was journaling my grief.
In a way, creating a grief journal gave me permission to feel sad, lonely, angry, enraged, and everything in between. If I didn’t feel like I could verbalize what I was feeling, I wrote it down.
It was like therapy for my soul.
Now, I know you might think that you’re not a writer. You might not have great spelling, or you can never seem to remember if you need that apostrophe or not.
Well, friend, I’m here to tell you the good news–it doesn’t matter one little bit.
No one is going to be going through your journal with a fine-tooth comb. A grief journal is YOURS alone, and those grammar fanatics can just mind their business.
If you’re new to the idea of journaling grief after a pregnancy loss or after the loss of a loved one in general, I’m here to help you get started with this coping tool.
I’ll go over some of the most significant benefits of keeping a grief journal, what you need to get started, and I have even included a free PDF of grief journal response prompts for you to use.
As you travel this road of loss, just remember–you’re not alone. I’ve been where you are. And you are loved.
Benefits of Journaling Grief
Studies have shown there are several benefits to using journaling as a grief process, including the following:
Feelings of stress often go hand-in-hand with sorrow, and they can often rise simultaneously. So journaling your grief can actually help reduce your stress levels.
According to Lisa Shulman, a professor of neurology, “Journaling helps short-circuit the chronic stress following traumatic events. Reconnecting and becoming more comfortable with suppressed memories calms the fear center of the brain, which is on overdrive during the grieving process.”
I like that last part about the fear center of the brain being in overdrive while you’re grieving. That’s what it felt like to me, and writing down my thoughts did act as a de-stressor for me at that time.
Improves Your Mood
Grief journaling is always a way to improve your mood when the last thing you feel like doing is smiling or acting happy.
An article from Harvard Health discussed how writing through your grief often brings up those hard emotions, but getting them out of your brain and down on paper helps you feel better afterward.
You may find that journaling brings tears, and that’s okay. You’re going to be okay. And grief journaling can act as a way to boost your mood through the act of releasing your feelings.
Boosts Immune System
It may surprise you, but journaling your grief can actually prevent you from getting sick. It can even help you recover faster if you do come down with an illness.
In fact, the founder of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Kira Newman, wrote an article outlining the many health benefits of keeping a journal during difficult and stressful times.
Newman cited several studies that showed how journaling–even for a brief time–could reduce doctor’s visits and make vaccines more effective. That’s amazing!
The main point I’m trying to make here is that writing through your grief can be tremendously therapeutic in a time when the last person you feel like taking care of is yourself.
Journaling Grief-What You Need to Get Started
You don’t need much to get started with grief journaling. At a minimum, you need a journal of some kind, something to write with, and the desire to begin.
However, you might be like me and find writing easier when you have a journal designed for a specific purpose. If so, here are some options for you:
Guided Grief Journal
You can find many journals out there that are specific to the type of loss you’re experiencing. Each page has a writing exercise to help guide your thoughts, and some might even have additional blank pages for free writes. Here are a few titles you might find helpful:
- Heaven’s Newest Angel: Letters to My Baby by Patricia Larson
- Navigating Grief: A Guided Journal by Mia Roldan, LCSW LCDC
- Your Grief, Your Way by Shelby Forsythia
Grief workbooks are slightly different from guided grief journals. They might provide prompts, but they also contain helpful exercises and suggestions for actively working your way through the grieving process. You might find the following options helpful:
- The Miscarriage Map Workbook by Sunita Osborn
- Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child by Gary Roe
- Grief Day By Day: Simple Practices and Daily Guidance for Living with Loss by Jan Warner and Amanda Bearse
You might want to start your writing process with a blank journal, and that’s perfectly fine. I’ve included some options below, but you can use any type of notebook or journal you’d like.
Once you decide on your method for journaling your grief, carve out some time each day to write. The amount of time you spend is up to you.
You might find that you will begin journaling for longer amounts of time as you get into the habit of it. That’s truly when the healing process can begin.
If you’re struggling with getting started, I welcome you to use any (or all) of the prompts below. In addition, I’ve included a printable PDF at the end that you can tuck into your journal to make them more convenient to access each day.
50 Grief Journal Prompts to Get You Started
1. My favorite memory of my loved one is…
2. Today, I’m really missing…
3. I can honor the loved one I lost by…
4. To be more compassionate towards myself, I will try…
5. Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed by grief, despair, pain, or regret, I will…
6. I could benefit from more…
7. I could benefit from less…
8. Something that triggers my grief is…
9. The most challenging time of day is…
10. I am grateful for…
11. A memory of my loved one that makes me laugh is…
12. A memory of my loved one that makes me cry is…
13. One thing I can do today to make my life easier is…
14. When I want to feel better, I will…(create a list of activities you can turn to)
15. Today, I feel…
16. The person I can turn to for support is…because…
17. One emotion I’ve been feeling a lot of lately has been…
18. The part of my body that holds most of my grief is…It feels…
19. When I let my mind wander, I start thinking about…
20. I feel taken care of when…
21. I feel angry because…
22. I feel shame when…
23. I find the most hope when…
24. A scripture or quote that’s helping me is…
25. I feel like I’m missing out on…
26. Sometimes I feel guilty because…
27. God’s showing me that He is…
28. The day I lost my loved one, I felt so…. I was…
29. I never expected pregnancy loss to be so…
30. My greatest internal struggle has been…
31. What would you tell others to remember or do after someone suffers a pregnancy loss?
32. What has surprised you in the midst of your grief?
33. How did you choose your baby’s name?
34. What is something that is now difficult to face but didn’t bother you before pregnancy loss?
35. What was the hardest thing you had to face after losing your baby?
36. If I could tell my baby one thing, I would tell him/her…
37. Some unhelpful (but well-meaning) things that others have said during this time are…
38. Write down every emotion you’re feeling right now. Set your timer for 5 minutes and just get it out of your head.
39. Write a letter to your baby.
40. Use your baby’s name to write an acrostic poem.
41. How have your priorities changed since your pregnancy loss?
42. What have you learned about yourself in this time of grief?
43. Write down how you will honor your loved one on their birthday or projected birth date.
44. Has your faith changed? In what way?
45. What song have you been listening to lately to help comfort you? Why that particular song?
46. Has grieving brought you and your partner closer together? Why or why not?
47. What is something you want others to understand on the days you’re really struggling?
48. How have your relationships with others changed since your pregnancy loss?
49. What new worries have developed since your loss? Where do those fears come from?
50. What things are you able to still find joy in?
DOWNLOAD HERE: Grief Journal Prompts PDF
This printable is for personal & non-commercial use only. Not authorized for resale or retail use.
If you’d like the free printable PDF of this list of grief journal prompts, just CLICK HERE or the image below.
I’m not going to promise that everything will become sunshine and roses in a day, a month, or even a year. There will be days that you struggle with your loss more than others.
What I will promise is that putting your thoughts and emotions down onto paper and removing them from your heart and mind will work wonders in the long run.
And just remember–I’m here to support you along the way.