What does your grief look like?
This is a sample prompt Patrice Martin, director of bereavement services might suggest during the upcoming Grief Writing Workshop.
This workshop will meet for six sessions, starting July 10. Any adult who has suffered a loss may participate.
"The prompts will guide the grievers through some of the same tasks we work with our clients on in grief counseling – telling our grief story, acknowledging and accepting our grief reactions, discovering ways to cope or take care of ourselves during the grief process, working through any regrets or blessings along the way and finding ways to give tribute to our loved ones," Martin said in an email.
Martin said journaling, as well as other expressive therapies, may reduce stress and improve sleep, self-insight and problem-solving.
"Journaling has been found to be an effective way to process your grief," Martin said. "And some people may feel more comfortable writing than going to support groups. Writing can help people who are not comfortable processing their feelings out loud and in front of a group."
On the other hand, if participants want to share their writings, or their experiences while writing, they may do so during the workshop, she said.
Martin said she is not a professional a writer, but she did journal when, as a teen she went through difficult times. She has occasionally incorporated writing prompts into other workshops, even though writing was not the primary focus of the workshop, Martin said.
"They would write for five minutes and let their feelings flow," Martin said. "People shared that it helped them focus on something they were struggling with. It gave them some insight."
Although JACH does offer free monthly support groups for those who are grieving, not every person feels comfortable discussing their feelings at a typical support group, Martin said.
Of course, anyone who is already attending a support group may attend, too, Martin said.
"All of our services are open, not just to our hospice families, but to anyone in the community," Martin said. "And it's all free of charge."
JACH is also starting two additional programs that will incorporate writing, Martin said. One is a journaling club for JACH staff and volunteers to express their thoughts serving their clients and families.
The other is a teen group, which has already had its first meeting.
"We only had two teens come but it was a big success," Martin said. "They were really able to relate to each other and they want to come back."
Participants in any of the JACH bereavement writing programs may include portions of their writings in a book Martin hopes to create. This book will be distributed to hospice families, she said.
The book is not the primary focus of any of the writing programs. But it may be one more way to provide for patients and families who are just starting hospice care, Martin said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Grief Writing Workshop
WHEN: 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 10 and July 24, August 14 and Aug. 28, Sept. 11 and Sept. 25
WHERE: Joliet Area Community Hospice, 250 Water Stone Circle, Joliet
INFORMATION: Register by contacting Patrice Martin at 815-460-3282 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting joliethospice.org