The Write Way to Heal

Is writing part of your healing journey?

Posted Sep 05, 2012

I write a lot. Some of it ends up here, but most of it doesn’t. Some of it ends up in books, but most of it stays with me. No matter, the writing is usually therapeutic. For healing, it is the process of writing that is most important.

Many people have turned to journaling or writing poetry, prose or other story forms in order to express what may be impossible to say.

You may not see yourself as a writer, but that is probably because you have a narrow definition of “a writer.”

Play with words. Try to put into words what you are feeling, thinking, experiencing. Granted, often there truly are no words to express the depth of pain. But, still, trying can help us get closer in understanding what it is that we know. Or what we question. And sometimes just changing the question can help us let go of the need for answers.

You do not need anyone to read what you write. Maybe you want to share it, and that’s fine, too. But the healing lies more in the process of rearranging words on a page, working to put together a puzzle that comes with no picture and often no border pieces.

If you are writing something that is particularly hurtful, painful, sensitive, or revealing, you may want to get rid of it after you are done. Sometimes putting our pain on paper is enough. We can then hit the delete key. Not all of the pain gets deleted, but some of it might lift.

We can explore our grief and pain through poetry, stories, letters, and songs.

In trying to describe why I write, these words tumbled out:

 Writing structures my mind.

Paints with words.

Gives voice to my heart.

Creates a person to listen,

without judging,

At least until it is read.

But by then it is done.

Or at least just beginning.

Writing is not the only way to heal, but it may help.

Give it a try.

Nancy Berns is the author of Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us.

About the Author

Nancy Berns, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Sociology at Drake University and the author of Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us.

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