Lots of people use writing to help them process their grief. I would bet that every Hope Sister committed to blogging for the Hope for Widows Foundation would admit that the blogging experience helps her process what happened to her husband and family and what is still happening to her and her family. It helps to share our stories. It helps to feel like you have something to contribute to the conversation. It helps to write out your grief.
Whether you write as a public blogger or through Instagram letters to your husband or private journaling to no one in particular, writing is one of the most healthy, therapeutic, cathartic and even eye-opening and introspective ways in which to sort out the jumbled, sad, raging mess inside you.
I’ve always been a writer. Unfortunately, I’ve never written for any kind of real living, but I certainly identify myself as a writer before any other profession or occupation. I prefer creative writing and have written two full novels, many short stories and plenty of creative nonfiction articles as a volunteer. Since my husband, however, I have discovered the value of writing poetry.
As a young person, I would write poetry from time to time, but mostly because I thought it would make me seem more mature than I was. Who doesn’t think that the student who designates herself as a “poet” is more mysterious, insightful, and interesting than most?
I’ve never classified myself as a poet, but what I found during this grief ridden plight is that journaling and blogging and fiction writing and letters to my husband can only dig so deep. Instead, I found that writing poetry sliced into soul crevices needing to be tended to. I can even hear Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society say to me, “There’s a poet in you after all!”
After my husband’s diagnosis, I began to write poems about what I was feeling. Sometimes the poems were to him, and sometimes they were just scribbled out there as my own “barbaric yawp” about what was happening. After he died, I continued writing poems to help me contend with the enormous amount of pain rumbling throughout my entire body. The guilt about being alive, the fears about the future, the accompanying abandonment and loneliness that comes for every widow after the ceremonies are done.
After a while, I amassed a collection of poems, which is still collecting. I’ve entitled it, “F*ck This Sh*t, a Memoir.”
Late last year, I was asked to submit some poetry to a book collection being published by a local poet and writer. Feeling nervous about others reading my work, I took a deep breath and submitted the poems I thought were possibly worthy. The book recently came out, and the other evening, I read them out loud for the first time in front of a crowd.
Reading out loud to a group has its own challenges for me, but it, too, felt somehow therapeutic. I gave the words not just a space on a page but a sound to the air. They were not only read, but they were heard.
Grief needs to be written on paper. Grief needs to be spoken out loud. Grief needs to have a voice. Grief needs to be heard. In fact, it demands it.
I hope my voice – written or spoken – helps you, and I hope that you’ll consider writing down your angst and thoughts and feelings in some poetry. Keep it to yourself, share it with your family or a friend, but by all means…give your grief a voice.