Tuesday, May 31, 2016

More Ways to Write Through Grief by Angela Arndt

Last week we discussed the 7 Ways to Writing Through Grief. Here’s a link to it, if you’d like to take a look at it. Today we’re going to look at the seven stages of writing through grief.

If you’ve lost a loved one, a job, a pet or even a material item, you’ve probably grieved. There are all kinds of medical literature arguing the number of stages of grief and how long each stage should last. Just remember: no matter who or what you've lost, they are precious to you.

Shock, Denial, and Bargaining. Last week I talked about losing my friend after an illness. She’d been sick for a while, but hadn’t let anyone know how serious it was. Actually, I'm not sure she knew herself. For two Sundays following her death, I sat up in the choir loft and cried. The entire service. I couldn’t help it, I didn’t get to say goodbye to her.

If you've gotten stuck because a loved one has died or a job or marriage has ended, then try writing a letter. Nothing can truly help except God and time, but this is a way to say goodbye and to acknowledge that your life has changed. It can be a formal letter, a simple a list of what made her/him special or anything that helps you process that hole in your life. In addition to being a writer, I'm also an artist. 

In the past, I've also drawn or painted portraits of the one who died, but you can do anything that helps you commemorate their life and the impact they had. This helps so much and may let you skip the next step.

Guilt, Anger, and Depression. In the case of my friend, I kept wishing that I’d insisted she go to the doctor. Then I got angry at her doctors, thinking they should’ve known what was wrong with her. When I cried those two Sundays, I'd gotten stuck on my loss. I kept asking, "why?"

We don't know God's will. We never can, but we can write these thoughts out, too. This can also be a letter, a list of adjectives describing your feelings, or better yet, add full descriptions of the guilt, anger and sadness you feel to your emotion journal. As I said last week, refer to this journal later on for true-to-life reactions and feelings as you write later.

If you're stuck in this stage, then examine your relationship with the deceased. How did you treat them? Was something left unfinished? What can help you resolve the issues you had? You can still talk to him or her, write a letter or even write and sing a song to them. Instead of asking "why did they die," ask "why am I stuck?"

is the final stage. That’s where our mind and heart has finally reached a point of healing. As Christians, we have the hope that we’ll see our loved one again and the acceptance that we can go on without them.

Add these thoughts to your letter or as another entry in your emotion journal, not only for your books but to complete your healing.

Writers and other creatives sometimes experience emotions more intensely. By expressing out our feelings, it not only helps our brains process these feelings, but it also helps us create rich characters that can also help others heal later on.

Have you found anything that has helped you heal after a devastating loss?

Angela Arndt was a corporate trainer before health issues sidelined her. These days she’s active in her local church, ACFW and a regular contributor to MBT's Weekly Spark. In addition to being a team member of Seriously Write and she'd love you to join her on her personal website.

Angie is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She’s currently working on a series of novels set in small Southern towns. She and her husband live in the middle of a big wood outside a small town in South Carolina.


  1. This is such an important script regarding grief and I feel as writers we do have a harder time, but I'd like to think as a Christian, I also know where, in this case, my mother is. She left this earth for her heavenly home last month. It was the first winter she didn't come to FL, and remained in Michigan. Due to a back injury I wasn't able to make a trip to see her, but we spoke every day by phone. Near the end she couldn't speak and my sis-in-law held the phone and she could listen and mumble. I was able to do this 2 hours before she passed...and I told her we'd have to go out for tea and some good chocolate soon. My sis said she had a smile on her face, about whatever I said. I find myself crying at the strangest times, reaching the phone to talk with her...and then I remember. I went to her home down here to get it ready to sell, and went through her belongings. I think that was really helpful; she kept everything!! I found a letter I wrote her when our children were young, and jewelry Dad had given her I don't think she thought about in years. De-cluttering was therapeutic for me,and receiving a letter from an older cousin Mom wrote her mother, when I was a few months old, was priceless. At 90 we can't compare the death of someone who had a good and happy life, to a much younger person, such as your friend, Angie. But although I know Mom is much better off, with our Lord and in no more pain...I do miss her terribly.

    1. Oh, Diane! I'm so sorry. I know you're so glad you were able to speak to her (even if she couldn't answer) so close to her death. It sounds like she loved you so much. I know that she'll be in Heave to greet you one day and until then, she'll know no more pain.

      Yes, that's a great idea. Decluttering certainly helps you process grief. Going through clothing, jewelry, photos -- anything that's full of memories will help you.

      It must be so difficult to be grieving and have back pain. No wonder you're crying at odd times. It will take a while, believe me. I've lost my step- and biological fathers, mother-in-law and so many friends. Give yourself time to process it all. Until then I'll be praying for you!


    2. Thank you, Angie, for being so sweet and understanding. I appreciate your prayers.
      Blessings~ :)

  2. Angie - your friend was a truly special woman to evoke such depth of emotion. All of us can but hope to leave that type of legacy.

    I've written through illnesses of those I loved and it has been hard. I'm not sure I could have done it without their encouragement.

    1. Terri, thank you so much for your sweet comment. You're right, she was truly a woman of God.

      It is hard to write about people that are close to you. But writers can pull that depth of emotion and help others with it. I think Barbara would have been happy to know that her life helped others, even after she was gone.

      Hugs, sweet friend!

  3. Wonderful, heart-felt post, Angie. I love that you not only discussed the stages, but that you also offered suggestions to help move through each one and heal.

    1. Thank you so much, Dawn. I hope it will help someone to write through their own grief, too.

      I appreciate your comment so much! Hugs!

  4. Angie, thanks for sharing your heart and wisdom. Grieving is so painful, and your idea to write a letter is genius! Prayer journaling has helped me process life (whether change or loss, etc.). Big hugs from me, my friend. I love your heart!

    1. Thank you so much, Annette! I don't know about genius, but it helps. Yes! Exactly Prayer journaling helps me concentrate and see how prayer has changed me, too.

      Big hugs back! I feel the same way about you! :)


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