Sportswriter “Red” Smith is attributed with a quote almost every writer knows well: “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”
“Bleeding” on paper is a great way to grieve. It helps us cry our “gut” tears instead of our “head” tears.
When I wrote my first book, Justin, Heaven’s Baby, I would get up every morning and write until I was sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop. It was as though I was driven. I never intended to write a book. I couldn’t have at that stage in my grief; I was overwhelmed with mere survival.
Every morning when I reached the point of sobbing, I would think, “This is stupid. I’ll never do it again.” I would compose myself and get through my day somehow. Then I would get up the next morning and do it again. The process took me almost exactly 9 months, and when I finished it I felt as though I had birthed my Justin a second time. Catherine Marshall says that writing a book is like having a baby. I agree.
But the process of writing (journaling) transformed Justin from my tragedy on earth into my treasure in Heaven. I still cry sometimes...it’s sad to be a mother with empty arms. The resolution of grief is sadness; you don’t erase the memory by writing. You reach the point where you can cherish the memory instead of running from it because remembering brings you so much pain.
I can honestly say today that I’m proud I got to be Justin’s mom...even though it was just for a little while. His life, although much too short, was both precious and worthwhile.
What to Do When Nothing Can Be Done.
8. Journal. You haven’t “journaled” until you have cried. Journaling is one way to cry your “gut” tears instead of your “head” tears. Journaling, however painful, is healing because once the gut tears are out, peace can begin to creep back into your life, a little at a time.
Writing from your heart is actually “praying on paper.” It is a form of worship. However you view God, write Him/Her a letter about your loved one (even if it’s to say you’re angry). Let God share in your grief.
A friend of mine said, “You’re an intelligent person. Do you really believe in prayer?”
I was a single mother who raised a son. I prayed! I had no alternative!
Yes, I believe in prayer. Whatever you believe about God, praying focuses you and gives you wisdom. Journaling alone is great therapy. Journaling in partnership with God simply adds to the healing.
Another friend said, “I know you believe in prayer. I don’t know what I believe; but when things were tough last year, I tried it. It helped.”
Journal! Write your pain; write your anger; write your memories; write your sorrow; write your hope.
As I promised, in sympathy for the victims and grieving survivors of Sandy Hook, I will offer one pointer each day over the next few weeks for “What to do when nothing can be done.” Check the other entries or archives for what you might have missed. When school begins again in January, I will turn the focus to schools.
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