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The Healing Power of Writing

Read The Healing Power of Writing by Andrea Corrie here and below.

I know I am not alone in expressing my thoughts, feelings and emotions in writing as a vehicle for processing life and all its wondrous and not so wondrous happenings.

I recently heard author Michael Rosen talking about his book, Many Different Kinds of Love, written following the long period of severe illness he endured when he was struck down by coronavirus in 2020. He nearly died. Of writing being healing he said, “There is relief and release as the words go onto the page”.

The catharsis of writing is well documented and recently I have been reflecting on how far I have progressed along the ‘writing as a tool for processing grief’ path since losing James in 2005. I have also considered how the content and form of my writing has evolved over the intervening years.

Back in 2005, in the first ghastly weeks and months after James died, my tear-stained journal reflected an outpouring of loss and acute pain. Most of the writing was too personal to share, certainly during the first year and I ultimately binned it. But I began to write for the Drowning Support Network and The Compassionate Friends (www.tcf.org.uk) and in both places, I found an audience that empathised and understood the raw pain of those early days. The encouragement I received from those who expressed that my writing helped them as well, spurred me on to write more regularly. Having to step back into a more dispassionate viewpoint to put the words on the page somehow helped me to begin to process the darkest times of loss.

In 2011, I joined a creative writing group as a form of light relief from grief writing. A term turned into several years of belonging to the group! Here I found a huge unforeseen raft of help with structuring my writing. At the time I had begun to work on my first book, Into the Mourning Light, and some of the concepts in the book were shared with the writing group. Their invaluable feedback and kind critique enabled me to tweak the early drafts and I incorporated dialogue, which I would probably not have thought of doing had I been left to my own devices.

When the book was published in 2014, I decided to continue regular writing in the form of this blog, which has become an electronic journal of sorts. To date, I have published 171 posts on the blog and the subject matter spans topics from grief and loss to the RNLI to my books; also the publishing process and tributes to the loss of family and friends.

There is a wonderful freedom in blogging as you have free rein to choose your own topics and no one constrains your content beyond what is decent and reasonable to share. There is an important point to remember here, too. I only share about my life and family and James, that which I am happy to share. I have never written anything and afterwards thought ‘I shouldn’t have said that’. I write honestly and from the heart, but the ultimate decision on what to share is mine alone.

Between 2014 and 2018 I wrote much about finding positivity in life after loss, and there came a point when I realised I had sufficient material on the themes of love, light, hope, resilience, faith and joy to begin collating a second book. Thus, Living in the Mourning Light eventually came into being. The added bonus to this second book is that it is available in audio format as well as paperback and e-book.

Since retiring in December 2021, I have discovered joyful new avenues for writing which consist of running a creative writing group, writing a fortnightly press column, creating blog posts for our local church and helping to edit the local community magazine from time to time.

My creativity is being exercised in new directions, which keeps my brain active. Whilst I still bring the topics of grief and loss into my writing, they are no longer at the forefront of my consideration when I am thinking about writing. This feels like a natural, healthy progression.

The healing power of writing comes from sharing reflections, thoughts and emotions and like Michael Rosen, I feel that there is indeed both ‘relief and release on the page’ with every blog post, article, chapter or letter that is written.

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