How Keeping a Diary Helps Both You and Your Loved Ones

Keeping a Diary Helps

Journaling is beneficial for airing your feelings. It is a private musing where you can write anything your heart desires. I highly recommend it, but diaries are helpful, too.

How keeping a diary helps your grieving process.

The photo above shows three of the forty-five diaries my mother kept. Although they have been in my possession for almost two years, I began reading them yesterday, Saturday. On Friday, I started feeling extra sad about the ninth anniversary of my father’s death, and I wanted to read what Mom wrote in her diary on that day.

The three of us were together at the dinner table when Dad experienced extremely labored breathing. As he sought relief, he experienced dizziness and difficulty standing and walking. I physically supported him as well as I could while Mom called 911.

Each year at this time, I read my story of his death and the aftermath, My Father’s Love: You’re One of the Good Ones, remembering how grief has its ups and downs.

What did Mom’s diary reveal about her grief?

Mom was a very private person who kept her feelings close. Her diaries are filled with minutia about what she ate, who called, or who she saw at the local cafe in The Trading Post. Mom never spoke about that day, but her life was irreparably changed as she wrote, “Swede started gasping and died at 5:45 pm.”

Perhaps writing this helped her organize her life in an orderly fashion she could manage, just as the daily recitation of meals helped her close each day before heading up the stairs to bed.

She read her entries occasionally after finishing the last book she borrowed weekly from the library. She noted the book’s title in her diary when she finished it. In addition, she kept a running list of all the books she read to avoid re-reading one.

Mom was a voracious reader, finishing six a week.

When she noted something each day, it was important to her. That is how I saw that her loneliness and grief were gnawing away at her personal security. She recorded how many mice she had caught in traps or if she had seen a mouse. Finally, in desperation, she got some rat poison, and the mouse problem was resolved.

Next came plumbing problems, with a stopped-up upstairs bathroom sink and a toilet that quit functioning. The final blow was her inability to lift up the heavy cattle gate at the driveway entrance. She was good about asking local friends to help her, but she began to feel like a burden. Swede would have taken care of all those problems when he was alive, so it was no wonder that she called out to me for help.

“I can’t live alone anymore, Dawn!”

I responded as quickly as I could, coming to help with everyday problems and then bringing her home with me, where she remained until she fell six years later.

How could it have been easier for Mom?

Communication was almost nonexistent in my family. We talked about lightweight subjects unless it was current events or the bonehead play in the latest college football game.

It might have been different if I asked simple questions.

“What was the highlight of your week in your diary, Mom?”

She might have tried to avoid answering, but I could have creatively pursued a fuller reply. Of course, I can’t relive the past, but I can act differently in my other relationships.

I’ll continue reading Mom’s diary entries, remembering events, and feeling her spirit around me. I know she loves me and enjoys hearing my voice when I comment on a new discovery of her love.

Now, her diaries are helping me in my grief.

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