Healing Through Journaling and Letter Writing

Writing can be therapeutic.  It allows for the expression of your thoughts and feelings a little at a time or all at once.  Writing can help you organize your thoughts and feelings and provides you the opportunity to change what you have written until it accurately reflects what you want to say.   Writing is a safe way to express what you think and how you feel; there is no one there to judge you or to react to what you write.

Below you will find some suggestions for journaling and letter writing.  Discovering yourself through writing can be a healing experience for you.  You may also find it to be a calming source of strength.


The purpose of journal writing is to provide you the opportunity to reflect upon the meaning and the significance of events in your life.   The value of journal writing comes from writing your ideas and feelings on paper.   Once you record your ideas on paper, you do not have to be preoccupied with thoughts of losing them.  The writing makes “room” for new avenues of thinking that you may not have had time to previously consider.

Writing is an effective yet harmless way of “letting off steam” by providing you with a “fully accepting friend” who allows you to discharge your tensions and to vent all of your powerful and disruptive emotions.

The forms your journal could take include:

  • A narrative account of your ongoing experiences.
  • Drawings, paintings, or other visual materials that clarify or express your ideas.
  • Illustrations from magazines or newspapers, which capture your thoughts or feelings
  • Meaningful quotations or sayings
  • Lyrics from songs that capture or portray your thoughts and feelings
  • An inner dialogue between yourself and another to help you clarify a relationship or increase understanding of a problem or issue.
  • Bullet points of the highlights and low points of your day.

Letter Writing

Writing a letter to your lost loved one is an effective way to try to make sense of your past and to look forward to your future.   Even though it is a letter you will never send through the mail, the process of writing is healing.

Here are suggestions to help you get started writing a personal and private letter to your departed loved one.

  • Write as though he/she is still alive.
  • Write about all the things you love and appreciate about them.
  • Write things you want or need to express like “I love you,” “I miss you,” “I’m okay,” or “I’m sorry.”
  • Write a letter recalling a favorite memory that you two shared.  Tell them all the reasons why you cherish the memory.
  • Write a letter telling them about all that has happened since their death.  Tell them how you’ve grown and changed.  Tell them how you continue to honor their memory.

Here are suggestions to help you get started writing a personal and private letter to yourself:

  • Write to yourself and acknowledge all the ways you have grown and changed since your loved one’s death
  • Write to yourself and acknowledge at least 5 of your greatest strengths and personal qualities.
  • Give your past-self advice; tell your past-self about the most important lessons you’ve learned; and provide your past-self with words of encouragement.

With regards to what to do with the letter when you’re done:

  • If you think it would be helpful, privately reading the letter out loud before doing anything with it.
  • Some people want to make their letters public, others want to keep them private.
  • Symbolically send the letter; put it in a helium balloon and let it go, burn it in an outdoor fire pit; bury it with or near your loved one
  • Destroy the letter by shredding it or deleting it
  • Seal it in an envelope and keep it somewhere private
  • Save it somewhere on your hard drive or check out the website Aftertalk.com where you can write to deceased loved ones and save your writing for as long as you wish
  • Keep it close to you in your wallet or beside table
  • Send it to someone who might appreciate it
  • Share it with others who miss the person via e-mail, Facebook or personal blog
  • Share it anonymously or in a forum.

Tips Writing:

  • Write when and where you won’t be disturbed
  • Don’t rush yourself.  You will know when you are ready to put your thoughts and feelings on paper.
  • Be truthful.  You can’t do this wrong unless you are not honest with yourself and the individual you are writing too.
  • Writing is a healthy way to “confess” things you did which you wish you’d done differently.
  • Write about happy memories and sad ones. Share your regrets and longings.