Grief isn’t a singular event in one’s life: it’s an ongoing process that ebbs and flows with time. As you move through the stages of your grief after losing someone close to you, journaling can be a helpful tool for processing your emotions and coping with daily life.
But if you’ve never journaled before or if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, it can feel difficult to know where to start. Staring at an empty sheet of paper or a blinking cursor on your screen can just feel like another challenge to overcome.
First of all, know that just like there’s no right or wrong way to grieve, there’s no right or wrong way to journal. The purpose of a grief journal is to give you a safe place to express your feelings in any way you want to. But some people find it is a little bit easier to get started if they have writing prompts to use as tools.
At C.O.P.S. Arizona, we work to provide resources for families grieving the loss of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Here are 10 grief journal prompts we recommend to help anyone who is emotionally processing the death of a loved one.
1. Write about your day. What was good? What was hard for you?
This can be a good way to get started before you tackle your deepest feelings.
2. How have things changed around you since your loved one died?
When someone close to you dies, you mourn not only their life, but all of the ways that life has changed.
3. I feel most connected to my loved one when…
Determining what actions make you feel closer to your loved one can help the next time you are longing for that feeling again.
4. The one thing I miss most…
Acknowledging what you miss about your loved one gives yourself permission to feel what you feel.
5. The happiest memory I have…
Reflecting on the happy times you spent with your loved one can be a meaningful way to honor and celebrate their life.
6. What would your loved one want other people to know about them?
If you had to describe your loved one in just a few sentences, what words would you use?
7. People mean well when they ______, but it comes across to me as ________.
It’s pretty common for people to say the wrong thing to someone who is grieving. Even if you respond to them as graciously as you can, the way it makes you feel is legitimate. This prompt gives you an opportunity to think about those feelings.
8. What emotion do you feel most often in your grief?
Do find yourself feeling more sad, or angry? Are you in denial simply to stay in survival mode, or are you moving towards feelings of acceptance? Any of those things are ok. This prompt helps you reflect on your grief journey as it progresses over time.
9. Write a letter to your loved one.
This is a great way to release unsaid feelings.
10. How have you changed since your loved one died?
As your life circumstances have changed, you’ve likely changed too. What are some things you recognize in yourself since your loss?
We hope these grief journal prompts help you work toward internal peace.
Grief can feel overwhelming and debilitating. Everyone involved in C.O.P.S. Arizona has experienced that deep sadness from the loss of a family member or coworker who died unexpectedly in the line of duty. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to support survivors.
We hope these grief journal prompts help anyone who is coping with the loss of a loved one.
C.O.P.S. Arizona is dedicated to rebuilding shattered lives of survivors and co-workers affected by line of duty deaths. We offer programs and scholarships for survivors in our local Arizona chapter. For more information, visit https://www.copsarizona.org/.