26 Steps to Effectively Writing The Heartache

1. Buy a journal.
2. Find a secluded place to write where you can think clearly without distractions.
3. Candles and/or soft music may create a soothing mood for you as you write.
4. Write freely.
5. Write honestly.
6. Don’t worry about grammar or penmanship.
7. Write, at first, for your eyes only. This doesn’t have to be shared with anyone.
8. Write daily, if you can.
9. Write to remember your child. Your thoughts and reflections of him or her are a keepsake or a legacy.
10. Write to gain insight into this bereavement journey.
11. Write to chart progress for you to read years down the road.
12. Write with the feeling: I will survive this.
13. Write to identify your emotions and feelings.
14. Write to help solve some of the new situations you must now face.
15. Write to understand the new you (self-awareness).
16. Carry your journal and /or paper with you at all times in case you have the need to write. Even place your journal by your bedside to record in the mornings dreams you find significant.
17. Think of your journal as a friend who never judges and who can never hurt you.
18. Write your spiritual struggles.
19. Write a letter to your child about what has happened since he died.
20. Write a food-related memory you have of your child.
21. Write of hope even if it may only seem too far to grasp during the early season of loss. People who have had a child die many years before you, now
speak of hope. One day you will be able to tell newly bereaved parents hope can be gained.
22. Write your own Psalm of agony or of gratitude.
23. Take the memory of your child with you on an outing and write about the day through his eyes.
24. Use your journal as a punching bag in the sense you can spout off through your pen at someone who has been insensitive towards you without having to literally punch him or her.
25. Write to rebuild your self-esteem and self-confidence.
26. Write a poem of love to your child.

by Alice J. Wisler
from Down the Cereal Aisle (Daniel's House Publications, 2003)


  The Ten Tender Mandates for the Grieving Writer


  1. I am a valuable and wonderful person.  I am _________  (loved one’s name) ________  (aunt, uncle, father, mother, brother, sister, daughter, son, child or friend).
  2. I will honor my time to write for it is important.
  3. I will not judge my work – no feeling is “wrong.”  I will just let my writing stand and “be.”
  4. I am free to share my work and free not to share it with anyone.
  5. I will write honestly – no pretending.
  6. While finding time to write should not put me in a frenzied state, I will try to calmly make the time to write, just as I make the time for other activities.
  7. I will not be afraid to cry.
  8. I will care for myself as ____________’s  (name of loved one’s) __________  (relationship to loved one – father, son, sister, etc.).
  9. I know some of the discoveries through writing may be pleasant; others may be painful.  There is no healing without emotions.

10.  I will seek to understand how the benefits of writing can aide in a healthy healing.

 ~ by Alice J. Wisler