The Grief Journey: Journaling During Pet Loss
When I was a young girl, I was shy and introspective. I did not always feel comfortable verbalizing my emotions so I turned to writing poetry and short stories; they allowed me to express myself with freedom and no judgment. Journaling has the same positive effect. Often when you are grieving the loss of your pet you are fearful of being judged, misunderstood or people saying uncomfortable things. Journaling allows you too openly and freely express your inner most thoughts and feelings without the fear of the aforementioned. It is also an insightful tool which allows you to reflect on the past and to validate your emotions; a journal logs in the moment and acts as a truth when you find yourself questioning the past, in the future.
Journaling is one of the standard tools that I suggest to my clients. You can choose to share your journaling with another person whom you feel safe sharing with or keep it for yourself. Journaling gives you the freedom and the permission to say what you need to say and as well to feel what you are feeling. I also provide journaling exercises which will help you to dig deeper, again giving yourself permission to be honest with your loss and your grief. It is important to do so because by not doing so you may find yourself going in circles and not moving forward.
Steps to Journaling
1. Buy yourself a journal notebook rather than writing on random sheets of paper; you want to keep all your entries together in an organized fashion. There is a large selection of journal notebooks on both Amazon and Chapters/Indigo.
I am aware that physically writing is not comfortable to all. If you rather do it on your laptop, that is perfectly fine. Open a file on your laptop naming it “journaling”. This method will also keep your journaling in an organized fashion.
2. Try to make it a practice to journal at least once a day. However, should you be able to journal both in the morning and before going to sleep, better still. If you find yourself needing to journal throughout the day, especially at the beginning of your grief journey, do so. If journaling is helping you heal, then use it to its fullest.
3. Date your journaling entries. It gives your journaling clarity and order when you go back to read and to better assess your progress.
4. Label your journaling entries, i.e., if you are journaling feelings of anger, then title the journaling “anger”, this again gives your journaling clarity and order when you go back to read.
5. Don’t be shy or inhibited, write what you are feeling, remember, your journaling is your safe place to express whatever you may be feeling. Journal both your negative and your positive feelings, i.e., memories of your pet.
The above steps are merely suggestions. Everyone has their own style of journaling, there is no right or wrong way. As individual as your grief journey is, so too will be your journaling style. The bottom line, journaling gives you the freedom and the permission to express your inner most feelings in a safe, nonjudgmental space to calmly and kindly move through a very hard dark time towards healing.