Writing and Trauma — an Exercise in Healing

Posted on August 22, 2011


Baby Declan Jace

Little Declan Jace

I have friends, Jason and Kim, who just lost their baby boy, Declan Jace, yesterday. My heart grieves for them.

You see, they found Declan in his bed not breathing several days ago, rushed him to the hospital, and the terrible saga began.

“How does this relate to writing?” you might ask.

Right after finding Declan, Jason and Kim created a Facebook group to keep all of their friends abreast of the developments. Over the past few days, they journaled Declan’s status and their family’s ups and downs regarding the incident, and ultimately Declan’s untimely and tragic death, through detailed posts.

All this relates to writing and how it can help heal those who experience tragedy and trauma in their lives.

Healing Through Writing

After doing an Internet search on the term “healing through writing,” I found a goldmine of relative and expert sources that support the notion that writing helps people heal from trauma/tragedy. They all say it’s therapeutic.

Some of the sites that articulated it best are as follows:

There are many others that offer excellent information and advice on the topic, too. I suggest you do the search and check them all out.

Although Jason and Kim are in shock after saying goodbye to their baby boy yesterday, they continue to share their thoughts. They probably will for several days until after Declan’s memorials services.

The experts I found believe that doing this promotes healing in our emotions and even in our physical bodies. The words written on paper give voice to the experience and set us free to live, instead of staying in that place where the tragedy occurred.

The words help us move on. Not that we lose sight of the pain or the loss, but, instead, we learn to embrace the emotions of that moment, to experience every aspect of it … and allow us permission to eventually move on.

Right now, I believe the posts that Jason and Kim are sharing are a healthy expression of their emotions and have become an inspiration to others. It may also be that others are experiencing healing in reading the posts and sharing their own stories in the thread.

Jason, Baby Declan and Kim

I believe Jason and Kim are a great example of how writing can be used as a tool for healing.

The Challenge

Most of the people I know have experienced a tragedy or two in their lifetimes. Most of the audience reading this is made up of writers.

My challenge to each of you who have a traumatic memory or have experienced tragedy is to sit down, make an outline of the timeline of the trauma/tragedy and write a paper about it. You don’t even have to share it with anyone — just write it.

Below is a sample outline:

  • Life before the trauma/tragedy
  • The trauma/tragedy — events surround it — what precipitated it (if anything) and what actually occurred
  • Life following the trauma/tragedy — how it impacted/changed your life
  • How you responded to the change — positive and negative
  • Summary of how you’ve healed from it — if not yet healed, your discovery of that and your next steps/goals to arrive at healing

Keep in mind, this is just a sample.

This YouTube video provides some good pointers for getting the emotions down on paper.

In writing an expression of your trauma/tragedy, please say a prayer for my friends, Jason and Kim, that they will be strong through this most difficult of times.

Please share with us your stories and what steps you took to heal from the trauma/tragedy.