A Grief Journal for the Non-Writer

Keeping grief journal can be very helpful for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Yet for many, writing  is not something that comes easily.

Does this sound like you?

*I wouldn’t know where to start.

*I don’t like writing, it’s not something that comes naturally to me.

*I’ve tried and it was just so overwhelming, my emotions were in overdrive.

*I don’t want to be reminded of my pain every time I start writing.

*I can’t spell, I’m not good with words.

*I don’t have time, it’s hard enough trying to look after my family when I feel so sad.

If you can relate to the above, then check out my list below where I give you some easy and different ways to use a journal. It’s my no fail way for the non-writer to give it a go.

With journaling remember there are no rules, it’s your journal. You don’t even have to write, you can paint, color, glue and create. You can use one or many. If the word itself turns you off, call it a scrapbook instead. The only thing I would suggest is that you date the page.

9 Easy Ways to Get Started:

1.  Use pictures instead of words. Cull your magazines and cut out images that mean something to you right now. Glue them in or make a collage. It could be a picture that represents a feeling, it could be a picture of a place you would love to visit at some stage in the future.  It could be words you see in the newspaper. Start a file for your cuttings.

2.  Take a quote you’ve seen on Facebook, in the paper, in a book, or in a blog and write it in your journal.

3.  Make a memory of a day you spent together. Put in some pictures of special moments shared, a card you may have if it was a birthday for instance. Add a small caption, such as “I love this picture, we were at the ……….”

4.  Use two words only.  One of my fellow writers has a “Two Word Wednesday” feature – you add a comment, using 2 words only. It’s amazing how powerful those 2 little words can be.  Your words might be “Feeling Blue” or “Remembering Birthdays.”

5.  Pick a theme, such as “The meaning of their name” and write a couple of words, paste in quotes and pictures that reflect that theme.

6.  Choose a song and as you listen to it, draw out some shapes which flow with the music for you.

7.  Use color to represent what your loved one means to you. As you think of them, what color springs into your mind, try paints or pastels to put the colour onto the page of your grief journal Once dry write a special message for them.

8.  Write a quick list of 10 special memories you have.

9.  Use smiley face to give a picture to your feelings. There are so many and they say so very easily in an image what would take us ages to write. It’s a way of expressing your emotions without feeling overwhelmed by the process.

This article was first published by Esdeer. Maureen’s free inspirational guide “Opening the Door to Hope: Helping you Step through Grief” is available here:  www.esdeer.com/hope.

Photo Credit.


  1. Janet Macy said on December 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm ... #

    Great ideas. Thanks.

  2. Maureen Hunter said on January 5, 2012 at 8:53 am ... #

    Gkad you liked them Janet – Maureen @Esdeer

  3. elaine said on June 10, 2012 at 1:52 am ... #

    Very good tips. So often we only think of writing when “journaling” is really just the expression of emotions and thoughts in a personal form of communication and remembrance and healing.

  4. Charity said on June 10, 2012 at 2:24 am ... #

    Even though I generally do write when journaling, these are great ways to deal with the days when words just can’t be found. Thank you.

  5. Geralyn Obetz said on June 10, 2012 at 8:41 am ... #

    Wish I had found this article 8 months ago when I lost my daughter to breast cancer. It’s been so hard. I bought a journal to start keeping when she died but never actually wrote anything in it. I didn’t know where to start and the depression was so bad all I could do was stare at it. I bought stuff to put together a scrapbook and picked out a lot of pictures of her but everything is still just sitting on my dresser. It’s almost like if I actually do any of these things, it means she’s really dead. There aren’t any support groups where I live for greiving parents so it’s hard to deal the loss. There’s no one to talk to who understands. Any way, thanks for this article. Maybe I can start with a few of your tips.

  6. paula nelson said on June 10, 2012 at 10:27 am ... #

    i love to doodle as i jot down thoughts….mindless doodles….mindless thoughts…sometimes i use different colored pens or pencils……..sometimes i take a small plate i.e. sauce and trace a small circle on the page then i doodle inside the circle, different colored shapes, images, squiggles..as words come forth i write them too, inside or outside the circle…this is my personal for the moment mandala….tis something more….uplifts for the moment….that is good, very good for me..

  7. Anonymous said on June 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm ... #

    Geralyn Obetz…how absolutely awful…so sorry you lost your daughter to breast cancer. It’s so hard to feel like nobody understands…wish I could say something that would take away your pain. I can send you a virtual caring-smile & hug from the across the airwaves. (I’ve just finished a breast cancer operation and lost my mother to breast cancer during my chemo….cancer sucks.) Think of something your daughter loved and celebrate it today…that will celebrate her too, in a way, if it brings you a smidgen of joy.

  8. Tapas said on January 1, 2013 at 12:26 am ... #

    This is the thing I realised on 31st,the last 31st,that I’m alone. Really alone in this world of mortals where bodies are soulless. It’s my inner sense that says I’m alone in a twilight where I’ve a choice to conquer or surrender. But wait,it’s a vague illusion,the both lead to the same place,the fortress of solitude where no one can break in. A peace of mind that I had till then was shattered in the deafening silence that I never realised. I even don’t know why I’m writing this,for someone to read,or it’s also an illusion that is compelling me to keep running. In my fortress of solitude, I’m the prince or prisoner,not a single voice to tell that. Now I realise what’s to be abandoned, the grief crossing the limits make u cold,hard,impermeable to the sorrows ,irresponsive to others plea,their emotion. A mindless creature that I’ve become, without any reason but in the motion, a motive that can’t be explained.
    Thank you for reading,being surrounded by people doesn’t guarantee you anything.

  9. Renee Wines said on March 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm ... #

    My Jack passed away on Feb. 20th when he was hit by a car, my life is turned up side down, I want to be angry but at who? the depression is so overwhelming, my heart feels like its shattered into pieces literally, the silence w/out my Jack is defeaning! He had my heart, he was my BEST FRIEND!Day to day life seems absolete and filled w/ sadness, not having children, this was my child, the loss is unbearable at times,If tears could build a bridge to heaven, I would walk up there and bring him home, then the sad reality slaps me up side the head.

  10. susannahannadana said on March 20, 2013 at 1:36 am ... #

    My brother, only blood related family other than my husband and kids died unexpectedly six weeks ago. ok, it wasn’t too unexpected, he smoked, he drank, he didn’t move around much, he was in constant spinal discomfort took pain meds, but he was my ‘bro, at 62 he just fell over and died at home, pain free. yet, now there is no one who was w me growing up. he was the only one who would understand me even if he didn’t. our parents have died too many years ago and we were ‘the family’. it sucks to have no one to share the houses we lived in, how much we miss our mom but not our dad. our favorite dog. its weird. ive lost too many people. death lives w me. it constantly reminds me that its my turn and if not me exactly, it will put another hole in my heart. ive outlived soo many others, but here i am, matriarch at age 63 w a holey heart.

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