Valuable addition: Why you should use journaling as a yoga teacher

Journaling is all the rage. The many variations of therapeutic writing are suitable for almost any situation in life. Numerous journals that you only have to fill out are now on the market to help you get started.

Journaling has also arrived in yoga classes. By means of specific reflection questions, the effect of the individual asanas can be additionally deepened, whereby the students profit even more from the practice.

As a teacher, you should definitely consider making journaling a regular part of your own routine, and not just offer it in your classes. Why? Here are my top 3 reasons why you should use journaling as a yoga teacher.

Personal growth as a teacher through journaling

Of course, in addition to teaching, you shouldn’t neglect your own practice. By documenting it-whether you’re practicing on your own or taking a class-and noting what felt good and what didn’t, you’ll get a better sense of what might be good for your group, which asanas are appropriate for which subject, and more. But you shouldn’t just write about your yoga practice, you should also engage with yourself through journaling.

With regular journaling you get to know yourself better: As a person and as a teacher. You learn who you are, what your values are, what you want to stand for, what you are comfortable with and what you are not. The better you are in touch with yourself, the more authentic you can be in the classroom.

Refined cuing

As you get into the habit of keeping track of your own practice, you will notice that your announcements become more accurate over time. Why? You are much more intensely aware of how individual exercises feel and what they can trigger on a mental level; what parts of the body are involved, where attention should be directed. If you incorporate this knowledge into your announcements, they will become much more understandable and vivid for your participants.

More creative lessons

Have you ever wondered where to get fresh ideas for new lessons? One way is to keep an “inspiration journal”. In it, you record everything that could be inspiring for your classes: creative sequences and transitions that you picked up as a participant; asanas that you didn’t know yet; announcements that were particularly on point; but not only things from yoga class, but also from everyday life. Quotes, experiences, and interesting conversations might give you topics for new lessons.

No matter what strikes your fancy or how banal it may seem to you – write it down! Feel free to add comments to the entry about why you think you could use this point in your teaching.

So, both personally and professionally, you can benefit greatly from journaling. Just grab a blank notebook and pen and get started right away!

Have fun writing, teaching, and growing!

Writing as Healing – Journaling for Grief

Grief is a powerful emotion. So powerful, in fact, that you might be inclined to think that writing is nothing more than a drop in the bucket. But in fact, it can greatly help to break through the lethargy often associated with grief, and reach for pen and paper.

Nowadays, there are numerous studies that prove that writing about traumatic events can have a positive influence on the healing process. And the loss of a loved one is definitely a traumatic event.

The grieving process

After a loss, you are forced to learn to cope with a new situation – one that you initially reject rigorously. You do not want this new reality, reject it, resist it. With time, however, acceptance comes. Gradually, you get used to the new circumstances, learn to live with the grief, and thus, step by step, come to terms with the loss.

The role of writing in this process

How can writing support this process?

Writing provides a good method for reflection. It’s a way to explore the feelings that come with grief. Do you feel more paralyzed? Sad? Angry? Do you feel regret about something? Once you engage more deeply with your emotions, exploring and questioning them, you can gain valuable insights. These, in turn, support the grieving and coping process.

You can confide everything to paper. There may be things you don’t want to tell others for fear of being judged or that they might tell others. You don’t have to worry about that in journaling. Here, you can be completely open with your feelings, without shame or fear.

Alone or with others

Journaling for grief is first of all a method for you alone. However, it is also increasingly used in grief groups. Here, participants are given the opportunity to share what they have written with others. In this way, it can happen that other people report similar feelings and experiences. When this happens, there is a sense of connection: you are not alone in what you are going through! For many, this realization is liberating and brings them a good deal further on their path.

You always decide for yourself whether you want to write for yourself alone or share your inner life with others. If you feel the desire to do the latter but don’t want to join a grief or therapy group, you can ask friends or family members if they would be willing to talk about it with you.

Methods for journaling when grieving

Of course, you can just go ahead and write everything off your chest without any concept. That’s one of the appeals of writing – that it can be so simple!

For those who don’t know how to get started without a concrete starting point, here are a few tips.

Letter to the deceased person

Write a letter to the person you lost. Feel free to write more than one! Share with the person everything you feel or write things from your heart that you were no longer able to share with this person. If you think that this method could be something for you, then read this article – there you will learn more about it.

The word “loss”

Take a closer look at the word “loss” and what it means to you. Forget about common definitions from the dictionary, but write only about what the word means to you personally. What external circumstances do you associate with “loss”, what feelings go along with it? To what extent does this idea fit to what you are actually feeling right now?

The ups and downs

In this journaling method, describe how you experience the different phases of the day. When do you find grief particularly hard – more in the morning or in the evening? When do you feel a little better? What activities are good for you? Document your ups and downs in your journal. Healing is by no means a linear process! Just because you were doing well once doesn’t mean it’s all uphill from here on out. But you may be able to identify in what circumstances, at what times, and in what company the bad times feel a little easier.

Significant Lessons

Did you learn something from the person who died? If so, what? Write about it. You may have learned things that are still useful to you today, that may have changed your life for the better. Cherish those lessons and the memory of them. In this way, you are reminding yourself that something of the person who died has stayed behind and is still with you.

A new life

The world continues to turn as before, everything goes on as usual – only in your case life has turned upside down. This can feel confusing, uncomfortable and uncertain. Often, mental chaos is the result. Describe to your journal what your life without this person is like, getting as detailed as you feel comfortable. You’ll be able to organize your thoughts a little better this way, and you may even find that some things haven’t changed at all – that can be sad, but also comforting.

Have you had any experience with journaling for grief? What has helped you? Share it with me and anyone else who might benefit!

4 reasons why you should keep a dream journal

There is a German saying that goes “Träume sind Schäume”. It means that dreams are not important and that what we experience in our sleep at night is irrelevant. But this is not true at all! 

When we dream, we process things that we experience in everyday life and that keep us busy. Our subconscious is active during sleep and can tell us revealing things. 

She’s not just sleeping – she’s processing her day.

Many people claim that they do not dream at all, but this is also a fallacy. In fact, we go through several dream phases every night – it’s just the memory that is often lacking, which is the most common reason for not even trying to keep a dream diary. 

But it’s worth it – here are four good reasons why you should keep a dream journal! 

Better remembering

Keep your journal right next to your bed!

Let’s start with the killer argument of memory. By keeping a dream journal, you’ll also improve your memory for what you dream at night. 

Put a notebook right next to your bed and reach for it in the morning as soon as you get up to write down everything that comes to mind. You really can’t remember anything at all? Then write down exactly that. What’s the point? This is how you get your brain used to recalling something in the morning. You train it, so to speak, to remember. 

The important thing is to keep at it! At first it may be frustrating to write “I don’t remember what I dreamed last night” every morning, but over time it will get better and you will gradually be able to remember more and more. 


Make the unconscious conscious 

What’s going on in your mind? Maybe even stuff you don’t know about.

In everyday life, you are exposed to so many stimuli that you cannot consciously perceive everything that may be subliminally bothering you. If you keep a dream diary regularly, after a while you will have documented enough dreams to recognize possible patterns. 

Is there something you dream about over and over again? Do certain scenarios or dream symbols appear more often? 

You may even be able to associate dream scenarios with external experiences, such as “the last time I kept dreaming about my deceased grandmother, the grief showed up again in real life.” In this way, you may be able to use dream imagery as a signal.

 Lucid dreaming

Being aware that you are dreaming can be so much fun!

Have you ever had a lucid dream? In such a dream, you are aware that you are dreaming and can do everything you cannot do in real life – yes, even fly!

Sometimes we have a lucid dream without meaning to. If you’ve ever experienced one and can’t get enough, you can sensitize yourself to have lucid dreams more often. By regularly examining your dreams – which you do when you keep a dream journal – you create the awareness necessary to continue having these dreams in the future. 

Encourage creativity 

Get into the writing flow – and don’t hold back!

There are artists who report that ideas for stories or songs have come to them in dreams. You too can harness the creative potential of your dreams for yourself! 

If you regularly jot down what you dream, you may eventually find a scenario in your notes that you want to make a story out of. Or you remember doing something in your dream that you can do in real life, and use it as inspiration? Let your imagination run wild! 

How can I start keeping a dream journal? 

You’re convinced and can’t wait to get started? Wonderful! 

As a stationery fan, I can only advise you to get yourself a nice notebook that you’ll enjoy writing in. Don’t necessarily skimp on your choice of pen, either – people much prefer to write when the writing instrument glides across the paper and isn’t scratchy. 

There are also separate dream journals that are designed exactly for this purpose. Let yourself be inspired by different variants and see which one suits you best. 

Once you have chosen a book, put it on your bedside table so that you can start writing as soon as you wake up. Don’t put off writing – make it your habit to write a few lines about your dreams while still in bed right after you wake up, and only then start your day. Unfortunately, the memory fades all too quickly. 

As mentioned above, the key is to keep at it. Only then can you achieve success in remembering better and only then can you recognize patterns as described in point 2. 

Do you want to start keeping a dream journal or have you been doing it for a while? Share your experiences with me – I look forward to hearing from you!

Not just pen and paper: Three beautiful journaling options for creatives

Painting, crafting, creating – are you one of those people who are bubbling over with creativity and love to create things with their hands? Maybe that’s why you find it rather boring to just buy a notebook and write away for your journaling routine?

If so, here are a few ideas for you on how to harness the healing power of journaling while living your creative streak to the fullest!

For crafting enthusiasts: Scrapbook or Bullet Journal

Create your journal just the way you like it! Get a blank notebook and get started – it’s a blank canvas just waiting to be filled with life.

For a bullet journal, you usually create your own “template,” a pattern that you can follow and fill in day by day. Here you decide which fields you want to implement. Date and day of the week should not be missing, but for everything else there are no limits to your imagination. You can always change this template. However, I recommend to use the same template for at least one week to develop some continuity. If you don’t like it anymore, you can simply create a new one.

With scrapbooks, you don’t just write and paint, you also collect, cut, and glue. Here you document the important things, insights and events of your life in the form of photos, tickets, ride tickets, grains of sand and anything else you can think of. Arm yourself with scissors, glue and some nice pens and get started!

For movie buffs: a video journal

Cineastes who are rather fond of pen and paper can use their camera as a journal. How? That’s entirely up to you! Maybe you just want to record yourself entrusting your camera with all the things you would otherwise entrust to a journal. Or maybe you’d like to take a more artistic approach and make little reports of your life, cut together from individual impressions of your everyday life.

For the talkative: an audio journal

Writing isn’t your thing, but you’re good at organizing yourself when you talk? Then an audio journal might be just the thing for you. Choose a way to record yourself talking about whatever’s on your mind, as if you were telling a loved one or recording a podcast.

Important with all three formats: Also pay attention to whether you’re more visual or auditory. In fact, with all journaling methods, it’s important to go back over the material you’ve written so far every once in a while so that you can recognize any patterns. So if you easily forget things that are auditory, then audio journaling may not be for you. But if you’re also an audiobook fan, for example, then it could be ideal for you.

To be able to recognize said patterns, continuity is also important. So choose a variation that you enjoy so much that you have no problem staying with it.

Which creative type are you? Share it in the comments!

Make your dreams come true: Journaling for manifestation

What are you dreaming about? Do you wish for a new job, your soulmate, more financial stability, your dream house?

For life’s little and big longings, manifesting is all the rage. The idea behind it is that everything is energy and like attracts like. In plain language, this means that if you yourself vibrate at a high, i.e. positive, frequency, you will in turn also attract things that in turn vibrate at a high frequency. This can also explain “self-fulfilling prophecies”, where you think to yourself “this won’t work anyway” – and then it actually doesn’t work.

Manifestation is an incredibly broad field with a wide variety of steps, methods and tips. Journaling can play a valuable role in the process of manifesting your dreams.

Here are the top 3 journaling methods for manifesting.

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude is one of the highest frequencies you can vibrate at. By practicing gratitude, you train yourself to focus on the positive things in life. Regularly reminding yourself of how much you are blessed with automatically triggers a sense of well-being – and that is essential to manifesting. A gratitude journal supports this beautiful practice.

Every morning and every evening, write down three to five things you are grateful for. Try to always find something new, because there is so much to be grateful for! If you are going through a difficult time, it can feel hard to be grateful. Therefore, direct your focus to the things that are not only related to you. You can be grateful not only for an understanding boss or a loving partner, but also for a beautiful sunset, melodic birdsong, or the smell of a freshly mowed lawn. Sharpen your eye for the beautiful!

Positivity Diary

Just like the gratitude diary, the positivity diary is intended to sharpen your eye for the beautiful. The method: complain less!

Our brain is predisposed to register negative stimuli in order to keep us safe. Unfortunately, this also results in us perceiving negative aspects of our lives to be greater than they are – even though they are not necessarily threatening. As a result, we often first tell people about what has been bugging us when we meet up with loved ones for dinner in the evening.

However, to achieve the positive frequency that is important for manifesting, nagging tends to be counterproductive. Take a little time each evening to write down all the things that were nice that day; things that went well; great experiences and the like.

Manifestation Diary

This method is wonderful if you already know exactly what you want to manifest – this is not yet necessary with the previous two journaling formats. You can also use them if you want to raise your vibration in general. With the manifestation diary it becomes more concrete.

Here you use the manifestation method, in which you put yourself in the mood as if you had already achieved what you want. So think about what you want to achieve and why. How would you feel if you had it? What would change? What would your everyday life look like? Imagine it in all its details and write it down. Formulate diary entries as if you were already in the situation you are dreaming about. For example: “Since I got my dream job, it is much easier for me to get up in the morning because I am already looking forward to the day ahead. I enjoy doing the tasks that are waiting for me. My job feels meaningful and fulfilling to me.”

What is the wish YOU would like to manifest? Share it in the comments!

What is journaling – and how does it work?

Journaling… that’s actually just writing in a diary, right? Not quite!

Keeping a diary is wonderful, but journaling goes a bit further. Usually journaling has a specific purpose: to gain more clarity about some aspect of one’s life, to stop the carousel of thoughts, to cope with grief, or much more.

As a form of writing with healing properties, it was already used as a therapeutic method in the 1960s and is still used today; either individually or as part of coaching or therapy. Many different variations are used, sometimes working with journaling, sometimes using free writing to tap into the unconscious. If you want to get a first overview of journaling methods, have a look here.

So why is journaling so healing?

Contact with yourself

Unfortunately, many people today have forgotten to listen to themselves and their inner voice – outside influences have become too loud, especially through increased media consumption. By allowing yourself a few minutes with yourself every day and regularly asking yourself what’s on your mind and giving your thoughts and feelings space, you stay in touch with yourself. This makes it easier to distinguish whether what you are feeling at the moment really comes from within or is rather an “I should” instilled from the outside. Knowing your own authentic needs is the important first step on the path to more self-care.

More positivity

It’s a funny thing about our brains. The amazing machine in our head can play many tricks on us. You see, the brain is designed to keep us safe – not happy. Therefore, our attention is automatically more receptive to negative impulses. We are supposed to be able to react quickly and thus keep ourselves safe. Unfortunately, this well-intentioned mechanism only ensures that in situations that can be interpreted both positively and negatively, we tend to pay more attention to the negative aspects and often see risks rather than opportunities, problems rather than solutions. With journaling, we can train ourselves to focus more on the positive. By regularly writing down what we are grateful for or what was beautiful about a day, we develop a sharper eye for the positive aspects of our lives.

More concentration

Oftentimes, a racing mind underlies the fact that we have difficulty concentrating. There’s a movie on TV, but we’re still checking our social media and stirring the cooking pot at the same time. Our mind is overwhelmed! With journaling, i.e. concentrated writing without distractions and external influences, we give it a break and help it to focus. A method called Brain Dump is particularly suitable here, whereby you write incessantly for a period of at least 15 minutes without putting down the pen. If you can’t think of anything else to write, that’s exactly what you’re writing – that you can’t think of anything right now. With regular practice, your mind will become less erratic and therefore take you to places you want to avoid less often.

Now, if you feel like getting more involved with journaling, but you’re still at the very beginning, feel free to read on here.

Top 3 journaling methods – my favorite types of therapeutic writing

Journaling helps us in all aspects of life. Whether it’s healing, self-discovery, career or something else entirely, therapeutic writing can help us gain clarity and balance. In contrast to keeping a diary, however, you take a slightly more structured approach. This can be intimidating because you may think you can’t get started right away – but that’s not the case. Also, the common methods of journaling are quite easy and can be used at any time.

Here are my personal top 3 methods of therapeutic writing.

Brain Dump

I love the Brain Dump approach because you really tap into your subconscious. You set an alarm for at least fifteen minutes and then just start writing away. The special thing about it: you don’t set the pen down once during the entire time you’re writing. Can’t think of anything else to say? Then write exactly this: “I can’t think of anything right now.” You’ll notice that suddenly ideas start flowing again and want to be put down on paper. Put the pen and paper aside when the time is up and pick up what you’ve written again later. It wouldn’t be unusual if, as you read through it, you find yourself wondering about one thing or another that ended up on the paper – perhaps you read things that you weren’t even aware of before. This can be very revealing and bring aspects to light that deserve your attention.

Gratitude journal

We tend to focus more on the negative in our daily lives. You can change that by regularly maintaining a gratitude journal. By making a list of things you are grateful for every day, you train your brain to focus more on the positive. You’ll gain a keener eye for the nice things. And when you do have a dull day, you can pick up your gratitude journal and read about everything you’re thankful for – it’ll put you in a good mood!

Unsent letters

I find this method to be particularly healing. Whether you’re writing to a living person or a someone who’s passed away, this is where you can express everything you’re afraid to say openly. Since the letter is not meant to be sent, you can be one hundred percent honest and get everything off your chest that is bothering or even burdening you. Even if the person will never read the letter, just writing it is a liberating, relieving process. Another wonderful alternative: writing a letter to your younger self and developing more compassion toward yourself.

Have you tried any of these methods? Which one do you like the most? Or is a completely different one your favorite? Feel free to share it with me in the comments!

Write your way to success – Journaling for your Career

Journaling is mainly associated with healing and personal growth, but it can also be a very effective tool for career development. It’s appropriate if you want to improve in your current job, if you’re looking for a new job, or even if you want to start a completely new career path.

How can keeping a journal help me in my career, you may ask. The answer is simple and multifaceted at the same time: journaling for career can help you learn to overcome (inner) limits, discover and develop hidden potential in yourself, learn about your strengths, and much more.

First of all, you can now get rid of the idea that journaling is the same as writing a diary. Yes, journaling and diary writing have a lot in common, but while you simply confide in a diary what’s going on inside you, without any structure or plan, journaling is a bit more goal-oriented. The reason you reach for the journal should also define the method of journaling.

Here are the best ways to use journaling to boost your career:

Reflection Journal

As the name suggests, the focus here is on reflection – so you deal with yourself extensively.

Typical journal prompts:

  • How did the past work week go?
  • How did project XY go?
  • What went well, what went less well?
  • What was the reason if it went less well? What is my part in it?
  • What happened today/this week/etc.? How did I react to it?

The benefit: You identify typical patterns that you display in your professional life. It is important that you write regularly over a longer period of time so that you can take your journal and read it. What habits do you recognize? Do you see a common thread? To what extent does it make sense to break a pattern?

“Cheerleading” Journal

Be your own cheerleader! This method is all about what you are good at. Document all of your successes, everything that went well, everything you did well.

Typical Journal Prompts:

  • What recent projects went really well? How did I contribute to them?
  • Who did I help this week? How?
  • Was I asked for advice this week? On what topic?
  • What was the last thing I received praise about?
  • What tasks make me feel really good and full of confidence?

The benefit: We tend to be very hard on ourselves and see our weaknesses more clearly than our strengths. With this method, you move the focus away from your weaknesses and toward your strengths – building self-esteem and confidence.

Learning experiences

In many things that happen to us in our professional lives, there is also a valuable lesson. Learn to recognize the hidden lessons in your everyday life and learn from them – it will contribute quite significantly to your growth.

Typical Journal Prompts:

  • What lessons have you already experienced? In what form?
  • What happened to me today/this week? Is there anything I can learn from it?
  • To what extent is what I have already learned useful to me?
  • To what extent could it help me in my desired career?

The benefit: You make the shift from victim mentality to learning. Instead of self-pityingly asking yourself “Why is this happening to me?” you train yourself to rather ask what an experience could teach you.

Stress Relief Journal

Let out everything you swallow in your daily life! Tell your journal everything you can’t say to your hectic boss, annoying co-worker, or overbearing client. This is where you can blow off steam or get rid of things that are burning on your mind. Journal prompts aren’t necessary here – just write away, or address a letter to someone you can’t talk to as openly as you’d like in everyday life.

The benefit: Things we’d like to say but can’t – for whatever reason – often weigh heavily on us. By writing them down, you let them out and that has a relieving effect. You reduce stress, which is better for your physical and mental health in the long run than keeping everything to yourself. But be careful: you should not get into “whining” and focus only on the negative! Try to find the balance here.

Self-discovery journal

This type of journaling is ideal if you’re embarking on a new career path. To get really happy with your career change, make sure that this new direction really fits you.

Typical Journal Prompts:

  • What do I really want?
  • What are my values? What kind of work fits these values?
  • What kind of life do I want to lead?
  • What requirements must be met for me to lead this life? Which activity fits to it?
  • What do I want to accomplish in my activity?

The benefit: By getting to know yourself and your values and finding a job that fits them, you’ll not only earn money with your work – ideally, you’ll even find fulfillment with it.

How about you? Where on your career path are you right now and where do you want to go from there? Maybe one of the methods above can help you get there!

Unsent Letters Part 3: Letters to a living person

Okay, you guys, we are at the end of our little article series about unsent letters in therapeutic writing, and this one is a little tricky. In our mini-series, we have covered letters to a younger version of yourself and to people who have passed away. In this last part of the series, I want to talk about writing letters to people who are alive and well. So why is this tricky? First, let’s discuss why this writing technique is worth a try. Why should you write letters to living persons without sending them, and how can it help you?

There are people in our lives that intimidate us. A boss, a crush, a dominant mother… even if you are a person who doesn’t usually find it difficult to stand up for yourself, you might feel more reserved around certain people. When we have relationships – with family members, work colleagues, a partner, or friends – where we feel like we need to hold back what we are really thinking, that will result in frustration and resentment sooner or later. However, if you really cannot speak openly or you think you cannot, spilling it all on paper could lift some weight off your shoulders.

Here are some situations where you might consider writing a letter without sending it as a form of therapeutic writing:

  • You have a rude boss that terrorizes you, but you fear you might get even more problems at work if you spoke up
  • A family member or your partner annoys you, but you don’t want to poison the atmosphere at home
  • You feel like there are still some things left unsaid between you and a person you have lost touch with
  • You miss someone
  • Your feelings for someone have grown deeper and you don’t dare to tell them (yet)

The perks

  • You get to be brutally honest, because no one is going to read it
  • You avoid conflict
  • You will be calmer, because you got everything off your chest

Just imagine: Next time your boss is being rude, you can stay calm, knowing that you can vent to your journal later. When you try to talk someone but you are always interrupted, you can get it all out later on.

Here is the tricky part

In part 1 of this series, we have covered unsent letters to a younger version of yourself – the letter is meant for your own eyes.
In part 2, we have talked about unsent letters to someone who has passed away – the person this letter is meant for will not have the chance to read it.
This part is about unsent letters to a person who is alive. Someone other than yourself. When you decide to use this technique of therapeutic writing and pour everything onto paper, without holding back, you might feel so relieved and empowered that you find yourself thinking “This was awesome, but now I want the person to actually read it!”. Pause before you send that letter! Oftentimes, it might be good to let the other person know how you really feel, in other cases, though, it can be counterproductive. Sleep over it, and when you still feel like you want to send the letter, it could be a good idea to follow your intuition. Read it again, though, and see if you might want to take the edge off a little bit – you don’t want to burn any bridges.

Use this method of therapeutic writing whenever you feel like it. Of course, you can take plenty of time for it, make yourself comfortable, but when you’ve just left the office fuming or just slammed the door shut behind your partner after you two had a fight, you can also get started right away. This method has the huge advantage that you can really let off steam, without having to fear that you might hurt your counterpart. Just let it all out – the pain, the rage, the grief, whatever it is that you’re feeling. Don’t pay attention to your style, your wording or your handwriting, because nobody will read what you’re writing. Try not to put the pen down until you’re finished. You’re having a hard time getting started? Then use the following journal prompts!

7 Journal Prompts to inspire your letter

  • Once you’ve picked a person to write to: Why did you pick this specific person?
  • How do you feel about this person?
  • How do you act when you are around this person?
  • Do you feel like you can talk openly to this person? Why? Why not?
  • What would you like to tell this person? Why?
  • What might be different if this person knew what you are thinking or how you are feeling about them?
  • In what way would your relationship change?

We’re at the end of the “Unsent Letters” mini series! Read the previous parts here, if you haven’t already.

Have you tried one of the methods? Let me know!

Unsent Letters Part 2: Letters to someone who’s passed away

When we are grieving, therapeutic writing can be a wonderful tool to handle the mental stress – just like in other crises. While people we confide in might say “you need to move on, it’s been a while already”, paper is patient. It won’t set you a deadline and won’t complain when you repeat yourself. It won’t interrupt you or try to convince you that other (own?) losses are much worse. It doesn’t act awkward when you completely lose your composure due to grief. I’ll admit, it also won’t wrap you in a comforting hug. But when you just feel like getting rid of some of the weight that’s so heavy on your heart, it is a great idea to grab a pen and paper. Therapeutic writing when grieving can be a relief.

There is a beautiful quote that says, “Grief is just love with nowhere to go”. When a beloved person passes away, we might remain clue- and restless, not knowing what to do. Often, you will catch yourself thinking that you would like to tell stuff to the deceased person, discuss situations with them or ask for their advice.

Sometimes, though, we quarrel with the death of a person because we think there are still things left unsaid. This feeling can turn into regret very quickly, and that’s when it gets really uncomfortable.

It gets even more uncomfortable – almost unbearable – when there is regret attached to the death right from the beginning, for example: Should I have cared or done more? Have I really made the most out of the last time together? Did he or she feel abandoned by me? Thoughts like that can get very heavy. Give a little of that weight to your journal!

Why write a letter?

Of course, you can use therapeutic writing in many different ways when you are grieving, but writing a letter to the person who has passed away is a very profound method:

  • You can approach the deceased person “directly”
  • That way, you feel like you’re not only writing for yourself
  • You can say things that you kept to yourself until that point
  • You can ask for forgiveness

Your own attitude towards death also plays a role, of course. What do you believe in? Heaven and hell? Reincarnation? Something entirely different? Your beliefs determine whether you believe that what you write will reach the recipient in some way. But even if you don’t believe this, journaling when grieving will still offer relief.

Until now, we’ve only discussed the case of a beloved person passing away. But what happens when we lose someone who has had a negative impact on us? Chances are, there are a lot of things left unsaid. Maybe you never really dared to speak up in front of that person? Maybe you want to really break away from that person for good? Draw a line, feel liberated? Writing a letter can also help in this case and might leave you feeling lightened up, even when you know that the person will never read the letter.

How to do it

Use this method of therapeutic writing whenever you miss a beloved person who’s no longer with us; or when you feel that you still haven’t shaken off the negative impact that someone who has passed away has had on you. Try to be alone with that specific person when you sit down to write. Maybe you would like to put up a picture of them while you write or remember them in another way. Start the letter like you would when they were still alive. Then, tell them what you would like to tell, explain why you miss them or why you are now breaking free from their influence for good.

Especially when grieving, we can feel paralyzed. That makes it very hard to write more than “Dear XY”. In this case, you can use the following ten journal prompts:

10 Journal Prompts as inspiration for your letter

  • Describe the person who has passed away. What did they mean to you and what significance did they have in your life?
  • How did you feel when that person passed away?
  • What is different now? What do you miss?
  • Is there something you would like to say to that person?
  • What version of yourself were you when you were with that person?
  • In what situations do you miss that person the most?
  • What do you feel when you remember that person? Are these feelings pleasant or uncomfortable?
  • If they are uncomfortable – can you explain why?
  • Describe your day to that person.
  • Ask that person for advice. Explain why you chose to turn to them for that matter.