Discover the Value of Writing for Healing and Hope!

One of the beautiful things about living this life without is how we have the freedom to help others without. What a sad world it would be if we kept all knowledge to ourselves---all nuggets of wisdom, all beads of hope, all glimpses of truth. The beauty is that in our despair we seek and do find life-giving morsels along the way to share with others.

Writing through pain has been my respite. When my son Daniel first died I looked forward to dates with my journal each evening. In the pages of my journal, I penned my pain and sorrow.

Like Alice Walker said, "Writing saved me."

It saved me from harboring bitterness, relentless anger and fear. As I wrote, I gained wisdom.  Wisdom about loss, sorrow, and even ways to cope. I was asked to speak at conferences and instruct writing workshops. I watched as tentative writers—writers who thought that they could not write—wipe tears from their eyes after reading aloud a poem or letter.

I love hearing how others have found the gift of writing to be a healing method to deal with the rocky path of bereavement. I challenge you to use your journal as a place where you can discover the healing and health that comes with putting pen to paper.

26 Steps to Effectively Writing the Heartache

1. Buy a journal.

2. Find a secluded place to write where you can think clearly without distractions.

3. Candles and/or soft music may create a soothing mood for you as you write.

4. Write freely.

5. Write honestly.

6. Don’t worry about grammar or penmanship.

7. Write, at first, for your eyes only. This doesn’t have to be shared with anyone.

8. Write daily, if you can.

9. Write to remember your child. Your thoughts and reflections of him or her are a keepsake or a legacy.

10. Write to gain insight into this bereavement journey.

11. Write to chart progress for you to read years down the road.

12. Write with the feeling: I will survive this.

13. Write to identify your emotions and feelings.

14. Write to help solve some of the new situations you must now face.

15. Write to understand the new you (self-awareness).

16. Carry your journal and /or paper with you at all times in case you have the need to write. Even place your journal by your bedside to record in the mornings dreams you find significant.

17. Think of your journal as a friend who never judges and who can never hurt you.

18. Write your spiritual struggles.

19. Write a letter to your child about what has happened since he died.

20. Write a food-related memory you have of your child.

21. Write of hope even if it may only seem too far to grasp during the early season of loss. People who have had a child die many years before you, now speak of hope. One day you will be able to tell newly bereaved parents hope can be gained.

22. Write your own Psalm of agony or of gratitude.

23. Take the memory of your child with you on an outing and write about the day through his eyes.

24. Use your journal as a punching bag in the sense you can spout off through your pen at someone who has been insensitive towards you without having to literally punch him or her.

25. Write to rebuild your self-esteem and self-confidence.

26. Write a poem of love to your child.

(From Down the Cereal Aisle: A Basket or Recipes and Remembrances, 2003, by Alice J. Wisler) Available here:



About the Author
Alice J. Wisler is the award-winning author of six novels (the most recent being Under the Silk Hibiscus), all pertaining to grief and loss. Her new devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, is a companion through grief. In memory of her son Daniel, she designs many products, including tote bags and bereavement cards. She teaches Writing the Heartache workshops and Journey through Life's Losses workshops, both online and at conferences across the country. Visit her website for more information.
Helping The Bereaved