One of the most important things that we can do as we struggle with child loss, miscarriage or infertility is to have compassion for ourselves at a time when it’s so easy to give up. One reason self-care is a topic close to my heart is because as a certified yoga teacher, gentleness, lovingkindness and wellness are goals I have for my students and me. The other reason is that as a bereaved mother, it’s a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way. I hope to share ideas that have worked for me and others who are on a similar journey.
Journaling is one of the best (and easiest) things that you can do to cultivate inner well being. There is something magic about taking whatever is in your head and dumping it out onto a piece of paper, or into a digital file.
What is a journal? I mean, after all, this is like journaling, right? Writing a blog? Well, your journal might end up becoming a blog, but really a journal is something that’s for you, and only you. I don’t think that I would be able to post my journals for everyone to see, nor do I think anyone would want to read them!
My blogs are edited and take one or two or three or more tries to get right, even if their content is very personal.
My journals are free writing. Whatever is in my head is dumped out onto the page. Unedited. Raw. Uncut. Messy. It’s never meant for anyone else to see. Even if I were to show it to someone, I wouldn’t show them every page.
That’s what a journal isn’t for, but what IS it for?
- A journal is for the things that you don’t tell your therapist. Admit it. We never tell them EVERYTHING.
- A journal is for the things that you don’t tell your best friend or partner. But you might tell them where the journal was so they could hide it in the event that anything ever happened to you!
- A journal is for the things in your brain that you haven’t yet processed, or thoughts that haven’t yet surfaced. You may have thoughts that you’re afraid to say out loud or that are so buried in emotion, they are hard to express to anyone else.
- A journal is the place where you get to be you. No judgment. No branding. No labels. No expectations, other than getting the thoughts in your head onto the page in whatever way they present themselves.
What’s the best way to start?
The best way to start is to set aside time every day to write. Grab an old notebook, or buy a blank journal with a cover that inspires you. You could even make a journal. At the last women’s “Day-treat” at my church, we made journals. Mine is pictured here.
Then start writing! I promise, you will feel cared for.
For inspiration, here are a couple of prompts that you could use to jump start your journaling:
- Write a letter to the child you lost. Be honest with them. Tell them your mistakes and your triumphs in your journey from their conception to your loss. Or, if you have never been pregnant or had a child, write to the child you are trying to conceive or to the child that you know you will never conceive.
- Reflect on how you’ve changed throughout your journey. Discuss what you’d like to see happen.
- Make a list of all of the stupid things people have said to you about your struggle.
- Make a list of all the amazing things people have said to you in your struggle.
- Make a list of all of the things you would like for someone to have said to you.
- Capture a day in your life: one that just happened or maybe one that you’ve been afraid to express your true feelings about.
- Tell your journal a secret that no one else knows.
I hope that journaling might be a source of healing for you. I hope that you will try at least one of the exercises above. And if you have an interesting prompt idea of your own, please share!!!