Using A Daily Journal After Losing a Child

Question: Dear Luise: We recently lost our grown daughter. She was 47 and had several serious physical problems before cancer took her. We just don’t know what to do or where to turn. It seems so wrong for kids to die and parents to live on. We have a strong religious background…we’re just not emotionally ready for what this is costing us. Do you have anything to suggest at all? Betty and Mike

Answer: Dear Betty and Mike: Platitudes. I think that’s all any of us have to offer. What we say has been said thousands of times before and doesn’t help. Not really. When help comes, eventually, I think it’s usually from inside of each of us. It’s a process.

In 2000 I lost my eldest son. He was 52. I learned that even when people said nothing, it was wrong. There just isn’t a right thing to say or do. Such circumstances are so far beyond our known limits, and those of our families and friends, that we all flounder. Some of us show it more than others. We’re all so different.

What helped me the most was journaling. I had to write. I needed to plod through my feelings over and over again…my anger, my sadness, my fear and guilt. Putting them down helped me. I talked, on paper to myself, to my son, to God. I just poured it out thinking it would never end. And it doesn’t…but it changes. You do start to get some distance, or at least I did, and some lovely memories come back and a sense that the one gone…is off doing something, somewhere surfaces.

It helped me to be with people who had faced losses of their own and it helped me to be alone. It also helped me to see the days come and go and see myself moving through them…the continuity of life, as long as I am part of it.

So I would say sharing is the tool that I used with myself in my writings and with others. Buying a journal and doing daily journaling can help move us through pain. And I think it helps create some kind of durability that I can’t quite put into words. Maybe it’s as smiple as having it be how it is…because it doesn’t stay the same. It evolves and so do we. Blessings, Luise

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