Forgiveness is a huge part of healing from loss.
As explained in Chapter 9, we might use a journal of forgiveness to express our grief (whether or not we share the contents with anyone). We can take heart from the guidance of Robert Enright, an authority on forgiveness, who has distilled 10 principles for keeping a journal of forgiveness:
- Set yourself up for comfortable writing
- Make adequate preparations for your writing
- Set aside enough time
- Find an appropriate place
- Do not focus on details, but try to record the gist of your concerns
- Pace yourself
- Permit yourself to write freely
- Protect your privacy (if that is your intention)
- Care for your journal into the future and
- Be sure to access your emotional well-being (Forgiveness is a Choice, 2001: 83-85).
To those ten principles, I would add: find a beautiful notebook that feels comfortable, and that lies flat when it’s open.
Conversations with a departed loved one: a comforting way of journaling
I believe that, by following the guidance that Karl and I offer in Chapter 6, we can avoid any potential dangers in writing about our loss. The form of journaling I am suggesting (reflected in our conversations in Chapters 7 through 9) involves recording conversations — a dialogue between two people who care deeply about each other. Ultimately, these conversations are about giving sorrow words, making meaning out of pain and loss, and transferring those meanings to a new context.
Listening attentively without judgment to the words of our loved one — and recording those words — and then replying — can help us make sense of our grief and begin to work out what to do next.