When you first lose your spouse, everyone rallies around you to comfort you and listen with eagerness to whatever you might have to say. However, as time moves on, those very same people begin to find it uncomfortable when you continue to share all that you are feeling in your grief. So, in order to make them feel better, you put on a mask as soon as you walk outside your door and even when you answer your phone.
There are those friend gems who do care and want to know how you are feeling, but they are very few and far between. So, what can a widow do to keep from stuffing all of those emotions back inside and slamming the lid on them? What can she do not to further complicate her grief? Instead of running from her grief, how can she share those deepest parts of her heart?
Journaling……writing down all of those thoughts and things you want and need to express and say before you explode.
Why are so many of us afraid to do that? One excuse may be that you’ve never done it before and you aren’t a writer. That really doesn’t matter because after all, who else is going to read what you write? Journaling is for you and your eyes alone unless you decide to share your thoughts with someone else.
Ken Gire says, “When we journal, it’s like taking a Polaroid of some moment during the day that has caught our attention. Only we do it with words instead of with film. But like that film, what we have looked at often develops right before our very eyes as we’re writing, revealing things we hadn’t seen before.”
When we journal, we let down our hair and take off all of our masks. We strip ourselves of all pretenses and get down to where the rubber meets the road. And, in that process, we come before God as the real us. Not the person that others want us to be – someone who is not hurting any longer, is finally happy and moving on with our lives. No. We are stripped bare of everything and are sharing our raw pain and shattered heart.
Journaling is a way, too, of reflecting back on our lives to see who we were and where we have been. It helps us to see ourselves as we really are and enables us with God’s help to make any changes that need to be made. Writing opens up our Pandora’s box and allows us to deal with all of those past issues, deep hurts and even anger that we’ve swept under the rug for perhaps years. It’s a place where we can completely and fully empty ourselves out and then begin to heal.
Another reason we might be afraid to journal is because we are afraid to turn around and take a good look at not only ourselves but all of those people, places, and circumstances in our past. We don’t want to look at ourselves in that full length mirror for any length of time nor even catch a glimpse of ourselves without those masks because we may not like what we see. After all, we’ve worked so hard all of those years to be put on those masks and keep them on.
I have found that sharing my deepest thoughts and emotions on paper or in my case on my laptop is a place where God shows up because I am giving Him permission to show up. When you get right down to it, there is no one who understands all of my pain and my grief like Jesus. Others may try and yes, other widows do “get it”, but no one understands it completely like Jesus. Not only does He understand, but journaling gives Him a chance to speak to my heart.
So, how do you begin? I had never sat down and written anything personal in my life before my husband went to heaven. At the suggestion of my christian psychologist, I began writing letters. I wrote letters to the following: my husband, God, from God to me, to my daughters, to my in-laws, from my husband to each of my daughters telling them what I thought he would have wanted to say before he died, to anyone who had hurt me, to grief, to anger, to depression, to anxiety………….and the list of emotions can go on and on, but you get the idea. I cannot even begin to tell you how very healing this has been for me.
Maybe you would rather just sit down and write to no one or no one thing in particular. That’s okay. Just try writing something in order to channel out all of those feelings that are trapped inside of you just bursting at the seams to come out. They need to come out in order for you to perhaps start moving forward and to keep moving forward. Who knows? Maybe one of these days someone else you know will become a widow and you will be able to look back over all that you have written so that you can share your journey with them.
I challenge you just to try it if God speaks to your heart and urges you to do so. There’s just something about putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and just letting it all out. It’s a place of humility and release.
This is such a great post for me, Candy. After my husband died I wrote letters to him, pouring out all of my woes. I always felt better after. But I like your idea of writing to others and expressing my feelings to them- and to God. I have had a terrible past week or two. For no reason I feel worse than I remember in a long time and it’s one month past Michael’s 3rd anniversary. I think that the “mask” that I’ve so successfully worn is finally slipping off. I’ll write about it and see what happens. I’ll ask God to give me the words to put my thoughts, anxiety and loneliness on paper.
Carol, it’s hard to take off that mask if you’ve been wearing it for such a long time. I know it has been for me and I’ve found that since Bob’s death I’ve been like an onion – peeling off the layers/masks one at a time. May you find the release and healing that you want and need. Thank you for sharing your heart and for reading.
Thank you Candy, I started writing to Darryl about six months after he died, first it was all why’s and pouring out all my pain and grief to him. Now I am at the point of telling him about my day or how his parents are doing or something our grandson or daughter are doing. I always end it by telling him how much I miss him and that I love him and that I will love him forever and always – Hard Fast Promise. 🙂 That is something he always told me and Brittany when he made a promise to us. – Hard Fast Promise!