“Writing may provide a resting place to ground you during times of grief… like taking a short rest, visiting a different place altogether than your hurt, a place to put down your burden, even for a short while…You may discover your writing reveals a quality of sensitivity and compassion you’ve never known before…that it soothes your torn heart.”
John Fox from Poetic Medicine
These are the days of tweeting, blogging, posting, instagraming, you name it. Everyone seems to be doing it. Some people seem very comfortable expressing every morsel of their living and breathing and eating into the world. Not that this isn’t totally fascinating to the one sharing, but most people (including me) don’t care about what you ate for breakfast, who you ate it with, and what you were wearing. However, when someone writes with a raw vulnerability, expressing with exquisite clarity a thought or feeling that I recognize in myself, I tend to sit up and take notice. Truth has a way of getting your attention.
In my work with grieving clients, I find that one of the most helpful activities I can encourage them to do is to write. “Write about what?” they say. Write about what is on your mind. Tell your story. Share your experiences, the secrets that need to be let out. Open your heart, feel the love, anger, pain, joy, sorrow, gratitude, regrets – whatever is present in the moment – and put it on the paper. Write letters, notes, poems, rants. Anything. Just express.
I recently read an online poll about the forms used for journaling (blogs, computer applications like Word, Evernote, etc.) and it fascinated me to learn that most people favor journaling the old-fashioned way. Pen and paper. I agree. I like to treat myself to beautiful little notebooks with smooth paper and pens that flow ink effortlessly on the page. Has anyone ever given you a beautiful journal that you were reluctant to write in, because you had the notion you had to save it until you had something worthwhile to say? Go and find that journal. Now is the time you have something important to say.
Putting your thoughts and feelings on paper is an important healing tool as it leads to therapeutic release of the emotional energy that can be a block to moving forward. There’s something about baring your soul to yourself through writing that feels so comforting. The physical act of writing – the flow of thoughts from your head, down through your hand, and on to paper is a releasing process in itself. In the midst of all of this, there is often an opening through which your Soul can speak words of comfort, encouragement, and faith to you. As I’ve heard the poet David Whyte explain it, when you write, you often have the experience of telling yourself something incredibly significant that you didn’t know you knew.
I know I have written scads of reeeeeaaaaallllllyyyyy bad poetry during the times I was in pain. It doesn’t matter that it has no artistic merit. It matters to me that I found a way to express what I was feeling and make something beautiful (at least to me) out of it. When I wrote these poems, they were to comfort me. They caressed my heart when there was no one there to physically hold me. Also, I’m very clear that no one needs to read or validate what I wrote for it to have value. I did it for me.
I especially encourage you to try out writing poetry as it engages your metaphorical way of looking at loss and making some kind of sense of something that just does not make sense at all. It bypasses the logical left-brained way of coping and creates a sense wholeness, of oneness with it all. It’s a multidimensional experience of expressing your hurt and comforting yourself at the same time.
We can tell ourselves where to look for hope when we write. This includes those times when you think you can’t take another step. Somehow, when you write about this, the picture starts to emerge where you see yourself taking that step. You see falling and getting up and being held all as part of life.
Here’s a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke that talks through the feelings of loss, loneliness, despair. In the end he affirms his faith that he is not alone, that there is hope and meaning in the dying and falling.
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up.
As if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
Away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling
And look at the other one…It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
Infinitely calm, hold up all this falling.
Love and Blessings on Your Journey,