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Give Sorrow Words: Creative Writing for Grief and Loss

Programs, Wellness   |   July 6, 2020  |   by  Karla Helbert and Jamie Fueglein

Close up of african american man taking notes

Grief and loss surround us.

Pain in the world right now is palpable.  We feel the effects of loss and confusion as we struggle to navigate daily uncertainty in the harrowing thick of a global pandemic. We sense heated waves of anguish emanating from impassioned protests. We feel and recognize urgent demand for changes to unjust systems. We sense the deep generational sufferings at the heart of it all. In the midst of all the collective pain, you may be experiencing your own personal anguish. Your heartache may be due to the death of someone dear, the loss of that which is so precious. You may be trying to manage loss, grief, and trauma uniquely your own.

The universe is all but insisting that we become more intimately acquainted with our own pain and with the pain of those crying out around us.

How can we move forward through this pain?

Finding creative ways of expressing what’s going on inside is crucial to moving through, processing, and integrating grief and trauma. The definition of “expression” here is best understood in terms of pressing or squeezing—moving the pain, hurt, and complicated feelings through and out. When we do this, we find space for new things to move in—new inspiration, more love, fresh growth; extra space allowing for freedom of movement, ease of breath. Writing is a creative expression of what’s going on inside. And it makes no difference whether you consider yourself a writer, or even creative: creativity is in our make-up. The act of creation helps us better understand ourselves and our experiences. Making and creating opens sacred flow.

African American woman writing at the park.

How does creativity and creative writing help?

Creativity in grief, loss, and trauma helps us express and release feelings that otherwise have no outlet, feelings we ourselves may not understand until we see them before us in a different form. Writing gives language to things that may feel inexpressible; it helps us to gain clarity about what’s happening deep inside. We can learn new things about ourselves through our writing. We can unearth what has been hidden. We can forge new pathways for our own growth and evolution as human beings. 

Whether you’ve been writing for years, or it’s a new experience, giving sorrow words can be opening, soothing, therapeutic, and healing. It can be part of a spiritual practice, a meditation in itself. Combining writing with other creative outlets can provide even more insight into your own broken heart as you move toward your natural state of intrinsic wholeness. 

Woman painting with water colors.

What are the challenges of giving our sorrow words?

 Those who endure trauma and grief can find it very difficult to find safe places to fully express feelings, emotions, experiences. Much of this has to do with fear of pain, fear of revisiting our tragedies, but as we ease into our most tender spaces, teasing out words as we go, we begin to know we can trust ourselves in those shadowy spaces. We also learn to trust in our ability to emerge again into the light. We learn we can breathe through the hurt, allow it to be, and to move. We learn we can depend on our own strength. We see that we can go safely into the dark and back out again—still whole. Again, and again. If we do not acknowledge and give voice to our heartbreak and pain, we often find ourselves in even darker places, living in smaller, more contracted spaces. 

Hands outstretched with heart in a galaxy background.

Shakespeare wrote, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o’erwrought heart and bids it break.”

Unexpressed grief can be poison. Your own writing can be your safe-space to tell your stories. Accept the invitation to give your own sorrow words. 

Woman writing on a Yoga block.

Give Sorrow Words: Exploring Grief and Loss Through Writing – Online

Karla Helbert and Jamie Fueglein

July 18 –19, 2020

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