I turned to journaling when each of my parents passed. I chose a red covered journal when my father died because it reminded me of the bright red shoes my father wore that embarrassed me when I was a teen. I used the journal to work through my sadness, make sense of his death and record my memories. I worked through various drafts of the poem I wrote to have read at his memorial. I was certain I could not read it myself. I finished the poem, traveled to his memorial, and enjoyed sharing in the many memories family and friends had of my father. When I returned home to California, I put the red journal on the shelf.
When my mother died, I chose a blue covered journal because blue had been her favorite color because it matched her eyes. I struggled to write a poem worthy of my mother, and failed. I wasn’t able to attend her funeral. I wrote through my frustration and then I put the blue journal on the shelf next to my father’s.
Years have passed and I am ready to open both books again and add more entries. I awoke this morning thinking about how my father chewed rubber bands from the inside of golf balls. He was a greens keeper at a golf course. He peeled open golf balls that he found and chewed on the rubber from inside. My mother found his choice repulsive and odd. A curious child, I tried it out myself. I found some satisfaction in the squeeky, springy feeling I felt, but really didn’t enjoy the flavor.
I have recently been reflecting on what it must have been like to be my mother. New experiences as a parent have driven home to me how ignorant I was of her perspective when I was teen and even an adult into my thirties. I’m about to reach the age she was when I turned eighteen and my own son is turning eighteen. I need to write down what I wish I could tell her I’ve learned. I need to record my new understanding and relish so many memories in a new way.
If some sort of loss wasn’t inevitable in all of our lives, I wouldn’t recommend a journal for grieving, but sadly loss is a part of all of our lives. Journaling through your losses can make such a difference.