CW: This video on struggling to write about grief discusses infertility and pregnancy loss.
Just over a decade ago I wrote a poetry collection called I Can Make Life that re-traced my journey of infertility and pregnancy loss. Writing this book taught me a lot about creative work and healing. Today I want to share a few of the lessons I learned by bringing this collection into the world.
This topic is so important for any writer whose subject matter is their own life. So many of us feel called to write about difficult experiences, and we set out without really knowing how to do it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed – especially if you’re a new writer without enough experience to trust the process.
So let’s talk about what you might expect when writing into your difficult material and how to take care of yourself in the process.
Watch The Video Here
In ‘Struggling To Write About Grief? Here’s What I’ve Learned’, You’ll:
- Learn 3 reasons to write about your grief
- Learn what you might expect when writing into your difficult material
- Understand how to take care of yourself when writing about grief and loss.
- See why your story is so valuable for you and others.
- Learn about an important act of self-care to protect your work.
Your key takeaways from ‘Struggling To Write About Grief? Here’s What I’ve Learned’.
Let’s talk about what you might expect when writing into your difficult material and how to take care of yourself in the process.
Lesson 1: It can take longer than you may think to write through your grief. Be patient with yourself.
In the days following the loss I wrote about in my poetry collection, my grief felt like a heavy thing that wouldn’t move. Yet the pull to write felt urgent, even overwhelming – like a force I couldn’t stop. Writing had always been a tool for healing for me, and it felt natural to write. A counsellor suggested a letter-writing exercise that helped me move through some of the pain, but it took months of shapeless freewriting to process the emotions. You might need a lot of time to move through that first phase of processing before the writing is ready to find its form. Be patient and gentle with yourself throughout this important part of the process.
Lesson 2: Stories of trauma, grief + loss are a gift for both writer + reader
I wanted to read stories by women who’d suffered the same kind of loss so I could feel less alone. But for such a common experience I struggled to find books that made me feel less isolated in my grief. Because I couldn’t find the memoir, essay or poetry collection I needed to read, I felt compelled to write one. If you feel doubt about the importance or value of your own story, please don’t underestimate its value or power. By using writing as a tool for processing your experiences it can be an important part of your own healing process. But making something beautiful out of a devastating experience can also be a gift to someone who needs your story and the wisdom you’ve gained from your experience.
Lesson 3: Write for yourself first. Be mindful of your readiness to share.
In those early days of grief, I wrote just for myself, from that raw, messy place, for as long as I needed to. Over the course of a year, the same material slowly began to take shape as essays and poems – but I was careful not to share them right away. I needed to be sure I was ready for another reader’s thoughts and impressions before I showed my work to anyone. It’s an act of self-care to protect your work with boundaries and give yourself space and time to be ready to share with an audience. It took me two years after my pregnancy loss to complete the poems that became a book I felt ready to share. At that point, I thought about the stories I needed to read in the early days of grief when I felt devastated and most alone. It made me feel good to share my stories in case they might help another reader.
If you’ve felt called to write about difficult experiences, have you learned any lessons in the process? Let me know in the comments.