How To Choose A Grief Journal

By Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

Posted: April 19, 2020

Your grief journal will help you speak your truth without judgement, untangle confusing thoughts, honor your loved one, and explore your continuing narrative in your life after loss. Additionally, you can use a grief journal to continue your conversation with your loved one after their death. After all, the relationship you have never goes away—the nature of it simply changes.

Depending on your needs and lifestyle, the right grief journal for you will be easy for you to access when you want to record your thoughts, and also secure enough for you to confidentially explore the wide range of your feelings.

Writing in your grief journal—like all writing—can seem intimidating when you face a blank page. In a previous blog I offer tips for grief journaling, including how to move past your inner critic and writing prompts to get you started. The Mindfulness & Grief Book also offers instructions and writing prompts. This article explores the benefits of tradition and digital writing mediums.

grief journal

Choose Your Grief Journal Medium

The benefits of a paper journal are many, including portability and distance from distracting online temptations such as Facebook and email. Additionally, if you plan on writing in your grief journal before bed, pen and paper will not contribute to grief related insomnia. On the other hand, many people prefer to type—or even dictate their thoughts—rather than hand-write entries.

Choosing a Paper Grief Journal

Paper grief journal options are plenty. Choose a small notebook or journal that will fit in your purse if you plan to write on the go or tote it back and forth to a counseling or group session. A spiral bound notebook is a discrete option if you plan on writing at work or want to avoid prying eyes at home. A more formal journal or diary carefully selected in a bookstore or specialty shop can remind us of the significance of our words. There isn’t a right or wrong choice.

Consider what you will write with. Any nearby pen or pencil will work of course, but some writers find that a special pen with the “right feel” helps them get going more quickly. Different colored writing instruments can help you designate mood or switch back and forth between questions and answers when engaged in dialogue or inquiry. Don’t forget there are no rules—go beyond prose and add in illustrations, poetry, and even collage and photos if it helps you tell your story and explore your true feelings.

Choosing a Digital Grief Journal

If you prefer typing grief journal entries rather than handwriting them, you, too, have plenty of options. Perhaps the simplest solution is an MS Word document on your hard drive. You can always password protect your file for privacy. is my favorite digital solution, which offers a free, secure online grief journal. What you write is for your eyes only, and you also have option to share select posts with friends, family, or even your therapist with the click of a button. Additionally, the esteemed grief researcher Dr. Robert Neimeyer hosts the “Ask Dr. Neimeyer” page, which provides a wealth of inspiration and support. You can even ask your own question about your grief journey.

Going Public

Personal blog sites, from to, are great places to host your grief journal/blog. Your content can easily be shared to inspire others, honor your loved one, and connect those within your circle of grief. If you do take your grief journal public, however, consider the pros and cons.

Will your inner critic censor your thoughts in a way that will suppress your authenticity? Many of us struggle with this notion in our private grief journals. Inviting others in may stifle the therapeutic value—or it may help.

You may want to try a hybrid solution. First, write in a private space, and then choose what to share with the public. This approach will both allow you to write with raw honesty, and then choose what to share with the world at large.

Whatever medium you choose, write regularly and write with your whole heart. The healing power of a grief journal can be profound.





Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

About the author

Heather Stang, M.A. is the author of Mindfulness & Grief. She holds a Masters degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) from Hood College in Maryland, and is a certified Yoga Therapist. She is on the Advisory Board for the highly regarded military family survivor organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and is a faculty member of the Portland Institute of Loss & Transition, founded by Dr. Robert A. Neimeyer. She is also the host of the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, founder of the Mindfulness & Grief Institute and the Frederick Meditation Center in Maryland.

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