This post contains grief journal prompts that will help you manage your emotions in healthy ways and cope.
What Are Journaling Prompts?
Journaling prompts are questions or statements that can make it easier to reflect on a certain topic.
Journaling can help you log your thoughts and feelings. This can be a cathartic and relieving experience.
Journaling can also help you review how far you’ve come, especially on days you feel like giving up.
Studies have shown that journaling can:
Grief Journaling Prompts
If you aren’t sure where to start, the following grief journaling prompts can help:
1. What did you miss today about your loved one?
2. When was the hardest time of today?
3. What have you been feeling most of lately? Where did you feel it in your body?
4. What do you tend to feel when you’re hit by a wave of grief?
5. What tends to trigger your feelings of grief? (events, holidays, songs, places, certain people, etc.)
6. What’s one comforting memory of your loved one you remember?
7. What’s one thing your loved one did or said that meant/means so much to you?
8. When do you feel most connected to your loved one?
9. How can you honor your loved one? Is there something you can do or give to celebrate their memory?
10. Is there something that you need to forgive your loved one for?
11. Is there something that you need to forgive yourself for?
12. When you felt overwhelmed with grief in the past, what helped you cope?
13. What can you do to take care of yourself when you feel overwhelmed by a difficult emotion?
14. What do you need to do more of or less of to show yourself compassion?
15. What do you need to remind yourself of to cope with difficult times? Write a mantra you can use when you feel overwhelmed by grief.
16. Who can you turn to for support when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Do you feel comfortable asking for help? Why or why not?
17. What is something you wish your support system would understand?
18. Write a letter to your loved one.
19. Write a letter from your loved one to yourself.
20. In the absence of your loved one, what’s your biggest motivation?
21. What’s something you are still learning to accept?
Alternative Journaling Ideas:
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
If journaling is not something that resonates with you, here are some alternative journaling ideas:
- Drawing: if you feel more comfortable drawing or painting, you may use that to express your feelings.
- Making a collage: you can also cut words or picture from magazines and make a collage.
- Voice notes: use a recorder to record your daily thoughts. You may also record messages to your loved ones.
Free Printable Worksheets For Grief (PDF)
Prolonged Grief Disorder
Studies show that 1 in 10 adults may experience prolonged grief (source)
The Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR) added symptoms associated with prolonged grief disorder to its list of diagnostic criteria.
Prolonged grief disorder is now a formal diagnosis for those who have faced difficulty coping with loss for an extended period of time.
“I think these [clients] would generally get lumped into adjustment disorders or depression diagnoses,” said Karin Gepp, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in New York and Psych Central Advisory Board member, said in an email.
According to the DSM-5-TR, the diagnostic criteria for prolonged grief includes:
- A persistent grief response for more than 12 months (6 months for a child).
- Symptoms that significantly disrupt the person’s daily functioning.
- Experiences that can’t be attributed to another condition, such as major depressive disorder (MDD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When to Seek Help?
There a lot of ways you can manage grief on your own, including journaling.
However, if grief starts to interfere with your life and daily functioning, you need to consider seeking professional help to navigate your healing journey.
Online therapy is also an option. It can be much affordable than in-person therapy, but can be equally effective. (source)
I recommend Online-Therapy.com for affordable online therapy.
(Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, which means I receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you choose to use this link. You will get 20% off your first month)
Grief & Loss Resources
Grief & Loss Support Groups – You Don’t Have To Grieve Alone
Grief in Common (griencommon.com) An online community of people who share similar losses
The National Mental Health Consumer’s Self-Help Clearinghouse (MHselfhelp.org) An inclusive online resource connecting patients, health care providers, advocates, and policymakers
Grief Anonymous (griefanonymous.com)
We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward with it from writer and podcaster Nora McInerny
The journey through loss and grief from author Jason B. Rosenthal
What makes life worth living in the face of death from author Lucy Kalanithi
- 30 Simple Things You Can Do to Help You Navigate Grief and Grief-Related Anxiety
- Top 12 Grief Lessons No One Talks About
- How To Help A Grieving Friend?
- 6 Powerful Tools and Worksheets to Help You Move Forward with Grief – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Surviving Suicide Loss: 10 Proven Ways to Help You Grieve Suicide Loss
- Resilient Grieving: 17 Gentle Ways to Work Through Grief and loss While On the Job
- Portions of this article were adapted from the book Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR), © 2013 by American Psychiatric Association. All rights reserved.
- Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial – PMC (nih.gov)
- How Journaling Can Help You in Hard Times (berkeley.edu)
- What’s All This About Journaling? – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
- Journaling for Mental Health – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center
- Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health (5 Science-Based Benefits of Journaling for Anxiety and Depression)) | Holstee
- The Mental Health Benefits of Journaling | Psych Central
- 83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress (positivepsychology.com)
- Journaling isn’t just good for mental health. It might also help your physical health. (nbcnews.com)
- Benefits of Journaling: The Science and Philosophy Behind Keeping a Di – Intelligent Change