Writing Assignments for Grief

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Writing assignments are often used to process unpleasant experiences, such as the loss of a loved one. There are a number of topics you can write about. Some assignments are easy, whilst others are a bit more difficult. This is different for everyone. It is also possible that some assignments evoke strong emotions; it is normal to experience these emotions! When the emotions get too intense for you, take a break. When you have calmed down a bit, you can continue.

General instructions

Set up a place in your house that will be used exclusively for working on the writing assignments. Sometimes it can help to put up a picture of the person you are writing about. Before you start writing, it is important to ensure that your phone is turned off and there are no children, friends or visitors that can disturb you. It is important to allow yourself sufficient time, for example 45 minutes. You can write using pen and paper if you like, but you can also work on them digitally. Find out what works best for you. Schedule each writing assignment on your NiceDay daily planner and write down your how you experienced the exercise after the assignment. This way, your practitioner can remain updated.

Assignment A

Write about your loved one’s personality. What kind of person was he/she? What did he/she enjoy doing? What did he/she think was funny? What did he/she always live up to? What was his/her favourite food/colour/season, and why? Write down as many details as possible that come to mind!

Assignment B

Write about a nice moment you experienced together with your loved one, such as a holiday, wedding day, anecdote or another beautiful moment. Try writing this from the ‘I’ or ‘we’ perspective, as if you were reliving it again. Where were you? What did you do? What day was it? What was the weather like? What did you feel, what did they feel? Try to write down as many details as possible!

Assignment C

Write a letter to your loved one containing everything that comes to mind and your thoughts when you think of him/her. Write in second person perspective (so ‘you’), directly to the person in the photo. This letter is for yourself only. It will never be sent, so you can write anything you want in it, both positive and negative feelings. Try not to feel inhibited! Write what comes to mind. Sit at the designated workplace and look at the photo. Let the photo influence you, let memories begin to arise; both feelings about the past and feelings about the letter itself. Try to let the emotions run free. Write down your feelings and any thoughts that surface.

You might find it difficult to write something at the beginning, but be patient! Just sit quietly until the time you set aside has past (e.g. 45 min.). Try to put some loose words on paper or read back parts of your letter. The idea is that you work on this letter every day and keep adding things that come to mind. Each time you begin writing, start by reading what you wrote previously and then continue writing. You can keep the letter to yourself, but you can also share it with your coach or practitioner.

Assignment D

When you have finished the letter from assignment C, during which you have put all your feelings and thoughts on paper, it is time for the last assignment. Here you will write a ‘worthy’ letter that you would like to send to your loved one. In this letter, you say goodbye to him/her. It must be a letter that you can be proud of, in which you tell them what you have experienced and how it has affected you without any anger or aggression. The letter should do your feelings justice, but it should not blame or harm the addressee. The letter is not only about the past, but also about the present and the future. The letter can then be sent symbolically, by burying it at the grave of the addressee, keeping it in a special place or by being burned. You can decide how you would like to do this. Keep in mind that this is all about you. Use your own interpretation!

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