2022 - March - CDT - Active Life
Moving Your Grief Through Writing
I set my timer for 10 minutes and they all began to write on unlined white paper. At this grief education and support gathering, the participants were either answering the question I posed, “If your grief is like the seasons, which season are you in right now?” or writing about how their grief was stirring in them at that moment. I encouraged them to write what they heard in their heads -- simply receiving, not judging – and to not censor or worry about spelling, grammar and punctuation. I also encouraged them to ask this question as often as they wanted, “What do I mean by ________?” and then continue writing.
I barely finished the instructions and many of the group had already begun writing. Some quickly filled the front of their paper and started writing on the back. Others wrote and pondered, wrote and pondered. As we neared the end of the 10 minutes, I saw some slow down and sit in contemplation.
My timer rang and I asked them to finish their thoughts and put down their pens. Not everyone was ready to stop, but I told them they could return to it later if they chose and even ask themselves these questions, “What thoughts were heard but not written?” “What or how did they feel after the exercise?” “What larger story may this be part of?” and, “What ideas came for future writings?’” While reminding them participation was by invitation and not demand, I asked if anything wanted to be said.
Several shared insights they gained. One shared how the writing went in a completely different direction than the prompt suggested. I was grateful to acknowledge that the writer was doing exactly as I had said, simply receiving and not judging. Another shared that there were surprises at the memories aroused. The room felt a little lighter. I encouraged everyone to do this kind of writing on their own and we moved onto our next activity.
I’m always in awe of what happens between our heads and our hands during an activity like this. New thoughts appear on paper and we sometimes feel a release. Grief is an emotion, energy that needs to move. This group was ready to move some of their grief from the inside to the outside and this writing activity gave them an opening.
Writing is a great way to move grief. When we lose a loved one, we sometimes feel like we’ve lost our voices as well. Writing can help us get our voices back by telling our stories.
Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? is a local coalition whose mission is to create educational and conversational opportunities for meaningful intergenerational exchanges on loss, grief, growth and transformation. We provide various opportunities for people to tell their stories. One option is a monthly column here in the Centre Daily Times.
Each of us has our own unique stories inside and uncovering them can feel empowering while helping us heal. The Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? group is offering a workshop to help interested participants do some of that uncovering. Facilitated by Beth McLaughlin, a writer and narrative coach, and me, this workshop will be held on Monday, April 4 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at The Village at Penn State Community Center, 108 Tradition Drive. You are invited to join us to explore some of your thoughts and feelings about grief and loss. Please RSVP by emailing Jackie@JackieHook.com, calling 814-237-2712 or by visiting the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH. Space is limited.
You are also invited to the following gatherings:
- Monday’s Moments Virtual Gathering, Mondays, April 4 and May 2 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
- Virtual Grief Healing Circle, a Healing Circles Global Program, Wednesdays, April 13 and May 11 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
- A Walk with Grief in partnership with Centre Region Parks and Recreation, Tuesdays, April 19 through May 31 (No Class May 10) from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. at local parks. Please register by visiting www.CRPR.org.
- Monday’s Moments at Millbrook Marsh in partnership with Centre Region Parks and Recreation, Mondays, April 18 and May 16 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center. Please register by visiting www.CRPR.org.
- Death Café Virtual Gathering, Mondays, April 18 and May 16 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
- Bereaved Mother’s Day Retreat, Saturday, May 1 at Footprints in the Field Garden on the grounds of Calvary Harvest Fields, 150 Harvest Fields Drive, Boalsburg.
For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH. If there are changes to our in-person gatherings because of COVID, we will provide updates on the website.
Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College. For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.