Writing Exercises

This is where we all begin, overwhelmed, in deep despair, unable to awaken from a nightmare of astounding proportions. I wrote the following shortly after my son died, an expression of the grief every parent must feel at the event of their own loss.

“You left us in a heartbeat, and what was unthinkable has become unbearable. I find myself in waters unknown to me, so deep and dark and threatening.  As I fight to stay above the surface, I am suddenly and completely overcome by a wave of grief of unspeakable size. It pulls me under as if to drown me, and I go willingly. I know it is stronger. And then, when I have no more air in my lungs, it releases me and I float up to the surface once again, gasping, choking, alive. I should feel thankful, but when I look around for you and you’re nowhere to be found, I only feel empty. My heart is broken. 

I know you are gone. I watched as they pumped your chest. And I watched as they stopped, in defeat, probably long after they should have. I know you are gone, and yet I feel the need to call you home as if you’re just down the block, playing with friends and you’ve lost track of time. It’s dark now, time for dinner. I call to you as only a mother calls to her child. You cannot answer.

It has been 1 week.  It has been a lifetime.”

Writing was my companion during the long days and nights after my son’s death. At times, it was my lifeline. I felt compelled to put pen to paper hoping that along the way something would finally be revealed, making sense out of the senseless.

Processing grief

The following exercises can help you to get in touch with your feelings by putting words to your grief. It is a gentle, enlightening step on the grieving path. I would encourage you to begin with these simple sentences, which can be answered with just a word or two, and, when inspired, expand your writing to include your more significant thoughts, feelings, experiences, emotions and memories of your child.

Describe your priorities

Describe your perceptions

Describe your interests

Describe your feelings

Describe your relationships

Describe yourself now

Describe a typical day

Describe how you’ve changed and grown