Struggling To Process And Heal From Grief This Valentine’s Day? Try Writing

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If you are struggling to process and heal from grief this Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to write, and more specifically, to write from the heart. As a psychotherapist (and human), I have witnessed the benefits of this practice. There is also significant research on the health benefits of writing. That’s why I encourage clients to use writing as a tool to move past grief or resentments, or simply feeling stuck. For instance, when I was struggling to process my own grief around the passing of my grandmother Big Mama, I would get up every morning at the holy hour, and write.

Writing from the heart is an opportunity to tell your unique story and allow emotions to move through your body. This creates a doorway for healing, renewal and transformation. You can write in your journal, or write letters to people who have had a profound impact on your life. This includes past lovers, deceased loved ones, or people who have harmed us. You don’t need to mail the letters, simply get your thoughts and strong emotions out on paper.

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Don’t know where to start? Don’t be alarmed. You can begin from a place of confusion or a place of frozenness. Don’t write for other people – you are your first audience. No need to look for external validation or a large audience; your writing is for you. I also encourage clients and will encourage you to release yourself from the belief that you need to write to make a lot of money. Writing is a healing tool. That means you do not need to worry about impressing others or monetizing what you’re doing. There is no need to quantify your writing, or judge yourself harshly for your volume of writing. The goal is to get your immediate thoughts on paper. In other words, writing can be as simple or as complex as we’d like it to be.

When I think about Valentine’s Day, I think about how to help people write from the heart around their own grief. To be clear, grief is about love; you can’t grieve what you haven’t first loved. Writing from the heart is all about helping people access their capacity to fall in love again.

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Finally, remember that every person in our lives is a teacher. Often, there is a temptation when people go through a break-up, to decide that the person no longer exists. But I say ‘no,’ that’s not true. There was something this human offered that you loved, and in the moment you were together, the love was real. There is no reason to be afraid to thank the people in our lives or people who were once in our lives for what they meant to us, when we were together. Writing in this way is designed to help us stitch up what was broken so we can heal.

I actually encourage persons who are in pain to make a list of ex-lovers and write them all a letter. Again, the letters should not be mailed, but the exercise is cathartic. A sample letter might say, “Dear [], one thing I loved about our relationship was…” or “A teaching that I got for being with you, was…” or, “what I learned about myself was…”

The bottom line is that there are many tools at our disposal to help us acknowledge and heal. Of all the tools, don’t overlook writing. It can literally be a gateway to healing, happiness, and reminder of your divine purpose. I know it has been for me.

Dr. Sabrina N’Diaye is a psychotherapist, storyteller, trauma expert and holistic healer. She is founder of the Heart Nest Center for Peace and Healing, and author of, Big Mama Speaks: Love Lessons from a Harlem River Swan.


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