Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
If you are listening to this when it first airs, it is only a few days before Christmas. And I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that and wish you a meaningful Christmas season where you can find joy and peace and contentment.
But I also know that holidays aren’t always easy, so if this Christmas season is challenging for you, I want to let you know it’s not too late to grab our Advent resource, When Your Silent Night Feels Empty. It contains a guided audio prayer, a 25-day Scripture writing plan, and some journal prompts that will help you sit with God in your grief and loss and see what He might be inviting you to do with it. You can find our Advent guide in our shop at lovedoesthat.org.
And so, similar to the journal prompts that are in that guide, today, I want to offer you some prompts that are especially for those seasons of grief and heartache.
Now, grief looks like a lot of different things, right? The death of a loved one. The loss of a friendship. The move from one town to another. Letting go of dreams or expectations. The heaviness that comes when we realize our life has just been radically changed.
Today, I want to share with you ten questions that you can use as journal prompts in these seasons of grief. Questions you can start using right now.
And I created a Grief Journal with those 10 questions—actually of 30 journal prompts—which you can get for free at lovedoesthat.org/griefjournal.
But don’t just download the Grief Journal and skip the rest of this episode. I really want you to hear the questions and why they are so important during a season of grief, and maybe hear what some sample answers might be, too.
Some of these questions, I encourage you to answer every single day. Other ones might be more helpful to answer every week. Find a rhythm and pace that works for you. In fact, in the Grief Journal download, I list all 30 questions on 2 pages, so you can print them out and use them however you’d like, but I also have a Daily Journal page with some of the questions that would be good to address every day, and then there are two Weekly Journal pages, so I kind of show you one way you can break the questions up and use them in a regular journaling practice.
So here they are: ten journal prompts for a season of grief.
Question 1: What does my soul need today?
So many people hear this question and have no idea how to answer it, but I really want you to think about it. What does your soul need? What do you need?
You could answer this question with something very practical: I need some time and space to myself today. I need to spend time with a close friend today. I need to take time to remember today.
Or you could answer with something a bit more intangible: I need peace. I need hope.
Grief is a journey, with ups and downs along the way. Some days, we feel like we’re doing better than others, but every day, we need something. What is it that your soul needs today?
Question 2: Do I feel like I can grieve fully and honestly right now?
There might be many reasons you might not feel like you can fully engage with the grieving process: to actually take the time to feel your emotions or to process in your heart and mind what is going on. Maybe the loss just occurred and you are dealing with all the effects: the funeral, packing for the move, the phone calls.
Maybe you’re busy helping your children process their own grief without taking time to deal with your own. Or you are in a position of leadership and feel like you have to hide your grief.
But take the time to explore that question: are you able to grieve honestly and fully right now? If so, be thankful for that. And if not, see if you can find a way to either make that possible or look to the weeks ahead and see when you might be able to take a step back and allow yourself to grieve.
Question 3: What is one thing I can do to take care of my body today?
When we are in a season of grief or depression, it is so very easy to neglect our physical health and well-being. We don’t have the energy to exercise, we don’t have the focus to make a healthy meal. And so we don’t.
But taking care of our bodies is a way to move toward healing. There is a ton of research that shows how exercise and food impact our moods and our energy levels, plus we know that God wants us to take care of ourselves as a way to honor Him.
So, what is one thing you can do to take care of your body today? Is it taking a shower? Taking a 5-minute walk? Eating an apple? Drinking a glass of water? Going to the gym for a 30-minute workout?
What is a realistic step for you to take today? Push yourself when you need to, and be gentle with yourself when you need that, too.
Question 4: What is one thing I can do to take care of my mind today?
So, in the same way, we also need to take care of our mind. In seasons of grief and loss, we can often neglect our mental health.
In a class recently, I learned that grief is actually a positive emotion in that it demonstrates how much we loved someone, or how much something meant to us. But when we get stuck in the sadness or anger and we live in that, that’s when it becomes so damaging.
So take the time to grieve your loss. But also make sure you that you are taking care of your mind.
For me, in a season of depression, that might have meant playing a game of Mahjong on my phone, or doing a crossword puzzle, or taking a few minutes to learn about something new. It might also mean journaling—not just quick responses, but actually taking time to sit and write and remember.
Question 5: What is one thing I can do to get some rest today?
There is no doubt that grief and loss take a lot out of you. When we are grieving, or even when we are remembering something tragic or hurtful, it makes us physically and mentally tired.
When we can identify one specific way we can get rest, we are making sure to take care of our bodies, minds, and spirits. But realize that rest looks different for each of us, and even on different days, we might need different things.
Rest could look like sitting on your front porch for 15 minutes. It might look like reading a non-fiction book. It might look like creating a piece of art, or playing a musical instrument. You might need to take a nap. What does rest look like for you? Think about your day and how you can create time and space for rest.
Question 6: What feelings am I most uncomfortable with right now?
Grief often doesn’t travel alone, but brings along some friends. Sadness, perhaps. Or regret. Disappointment. Anger. Frustration.
Which emotions are most uncomfortable for you? Take time to name them, even if you do nothing else with them.
Some of us are more comfortable with the sadness than we are the anger. Some of us aren’t afraid of the regret, but we’re terrified of falling into a pit of sadness we can’t find our way out of. What is most uncomfortable for you?
Question 7: What brings life to me in this season of loss?
In episode 38, we talked about how we can experience two seemingly opposite emotions at the same time—happy and sad, nervous and excited. And while we don’t want to minimize or ignore the loss, we also don’t want to forget about the things that stir us to life.
So it’s important for us to find those things that bring us life, even in seasons of loss. And “life” doesn’t have to look like all happy and excited, but there’s something almost intangible that it stirs up within us. Hope, perhaps?
Something that I know I need to do on a regular basis is listen to worship music. There is something about worshipping God through song that speaks so very deeply to me, and it doesn’t change anything that’s going on around me, but God uses it to change what’s going on inside of me, to stir me up, to keep me focused on Him. Especially during difficult seasons.
What is it that brings life to you? Take time to journal that question, pray through it, and see what God brings to mind.
Question 8: Today, I’m having a hard time with…
Each day will bring its own struggles. Some days, you might be burdened with all the details of planning a funeral, other days the memories might be playing non-stop in your mind. Sometimes you might be facing the regrets from your loss. Sometimes you’ll struggle to take care of yourself physically. Sometimes you might have a difficult time focusing on anyone else, especially if you have littles at home.
What are you having a hard time with today? Just naming it can be helpful, especially when you can name it before God. For example, “God, today I’m really struggling with wanting to eat.” And just give that to Him.
Question 9: How will I know if I am overwhelmed?
As we’ve said, grief has its seasons, its ups and downs. How will you know when you are overwhelmed? When you need to pause or take a step back? When you need to be gentle with yourself? When you might need to ask for some help?
Perhaps for some, it’s when they can’t find the energy or desire to get out of bed in the morning. For others, they’ll know when they haven’t showered all week, or when it has been three days and they haven’t really eaten anything substantial. Some will know if they can’t stop crying; others when the tears won’t come at all.
What signals to you that you are overwhelmed with grief? If you aren’t sure, perhaps look back at past situations when you were struggling and identify specific things that can serve as signals to you now. By writing them down, it will help you pay attention to those things throughout your grief journey.
Question 10: Where do I need God’s presence the most right now?
Okay, this might be one where you can immediately write down an answer, or you might need to really think about it for a while. Where do you need God’s presence the most right now?
The truth is that God is there, we just can’t always sense His presence there with us. Where are you longing to experience Him the most? And in what way? What does God’s presence mean to you? What does it feel like?
It can be so incredibly vulnerable to even ask these questions, let alone answer them. But you can do it, my friend. Just take it one step at a time and find a rhythm and pace that works for you.
Again, you can download my free Grief Journal to have access to all 30 questions, including a Daily Page and a Weekly Spread. That’s available at lovedoesthat.org/griefjournal, and by downloading that, you’ll be one of the first to know the details for my upcoming workshop, 3 Ways to Encounter God on the Pages of Your Journal. Because journaling can be a very powerful way to meet with God and hear from Him, and I can’t wait to share more about that with you.
Okay, that’s all for today, my friends. Until next time…
Grab the free Grief Journal:
- Episode 38: 3 Truths to Remember During a Difficult Holiday Season
- Advent Resource: When Your Silent Night Feels Empty
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I’d be honored to walk with you through a difficult season and help you discover God’s presence and work in your life.