Two Journal Prompts for Grief That Will Help You See Loss In a New Light

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This isn’t your standard New Year’s plan. No restrictive diets, no weekly weigh-ins, no “whole new you” for this new year—because, hey, you’re pretty great already. These four expert-led plans—designed to help you move your body, eat more veggies, get a better night’s sleep, or show yourself some loving care—are all about developing healthy habits that better align with your goals.

Grieving the death of someone you love is among the most painful human experiences—and it's all too common in a year plagued by a virus that has taken almost two million lives worldwide.

Lily Diamond was still mourning the death of her mother when she walked into Rebecca Walker's Art of Memoir Masterclass, a seven-day seminar of introspection. As she describes it, she entered Walker's workshop prepared to write an old story—and walked out prepared to write a new one. "Suddenly, I didn't know what it meant for me for [my mother to] no longer to be in a body existing in the world and the way that she did," Diamond says. "And what I discovered was, that while there were elements of myself that were like her, I was also a lot more like my dad than I ever thought that I was. Also, more importantly, I learned that I was like myself. I got to discover my story that was self-originating, and that wasn't about the stories that I had been given to me by my family."

Although we tend to think of grief as something that solely happens after death, in their new, co-authored book What’s Your Story: A Journal for Your Everyday Evolution, Walker and Diamond make a point of showing that many aspects of being human are imbued with grief. With dozens of journaling prompts, the pair leads you through exercises to uncover the grief present in your community, the grief of losing a dream, and even the grief of feeling that your body has betrayed you in some way.

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By the end of filling out your journal, you're left with a renewed sense of what these losses have meant to you, how they've shaped and unshaped you, and how you can reformulate future bouts of grief through writing. Below, Walker and Diamond offer two prompts to help you start rethinking grief.

Two journal prompts for grief from the authors of What's Your Story? 

Walker and Diamond recommend reading each question and then spending at least five minutes writing in response. If the words are flowing, continue. If not, put your pen down, read over what you wrote, and consider it without judgment. Then continue on to the next question or take a break and come back to it later.

Prompt 1: Who have you lost—friends, family, lovers, partners—and how did those losses change you and the story of your life?

Prompt 2: Where are you in the process of healing from those losses? What have you discovered about yourself from the healing process?

These questions were excerpted from What’s Your Story? with permission from the authors. 

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