Writing Affirmations Can Help With Grief

In 2007, when I was devastated by the deaths of four loved ones, I looked for new ways to cope with grief. Though I had good coping skills, nothing had prepared me for multiple losses. Since I am a writer, I followed my instincts, and started writing about grief. I did something else, too. Each morning, when I awoke, I thought of an affirmation that would get me through the day.

The list started out small and became so long that I kept a computer list of affirmations. Writing one-sentence affirmations was a lot like writing poetry. Eventually, my grief journal became a book and my publisher used the affirmations in a companion calendar and journal. The affirmations were, and continue to be, timeless. Some of the calendar affirmations:

* Hope rises with the sun each morning.

* Believing tomorrow will be better shall make it so.

* My new life is what I make it.

* Loved ones will always be part of my life.

The journal affirmations are similar in tone and here are some of them:

* Silence is a discovering place.

* When I am alone I am with an interesting person.

* In writing about grief, I am inching my way towards tomorrow.

* Life is a miracle and I’m so glad to be alive!

This last affirmation is on the back cover of the journal, the back cover of the calendar, and on my website. In many respects, it has become my life mantra.

My affirmation writing turned into attitude adjustment exercises, the conscious switch from negative to positive thoughts. What is an affirmation? The “Random House College Dictionary” defines the word affirm as “to declare positively.” An affirmation is defined as an “assertion of truth or existence of something; a confirmation or ratification.”

Many grief counselors ask their clients to keep a journal. It is good advice and I followed it. But the idea of keeping a journal may seem overwhelming. You may write one-sentence affirmations instead. Writing affirmations made my dark life brighter and the same thing could happen to you. Start with the sentence, “I am alive,” and work from there.

Affirmations can change your attitude about life. David D. Burns, MD, writes about this shift in his book, “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.” He thinks all of our moods come from thoughts. Depressed people [and this includes mourners like you and me] start to believe that life is worse than they thought and reject positives. But humans have the power to turn negative thoughts around, according to Burns, and switch to positive thinking.

You may be paralyzed with pain right now, and feel like your life is out of control. Writing affirmations can help you regain some control and and help you get past the pain. So I encourage you to give affirmation writing a try. Write your affirmations in a small notepad or on the computer. As your affirmations add up, life looks brighter, and you begin to see a future ahead.

Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson

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Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 38 years, is the author of 36 books, and thousands of print/Internet articles. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Minnesota Coalition for Grief Education and Support, and Grief Coalition of Southeastern Minnesota. In 2007 four of her family members died—her daughter (mother of her twin grandchildren), father-in-law, brother (and only sibling), and the twins’ father. Multiple losses shifted the focus of Hodgson’s work from general health to grief resolution and recovery, and she is the author of eight grief resources. Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of blog talk radio programs, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. In addition to writing for Open to Hope, Hodgson is a contributing writer for The Grief Toolbox website, and The Caregiver Space website. A popular speaker, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, hospice, grief, and caregiving conferences. Hodgson’s work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories. For more information about this busy wife, grandmother, author and family caregiver, please visit www.harriethodgson.com.

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