Writing Expressively for Grief and Loss

The beautiful Coates Centre barn provided the setting for a February ‘Write your Mind’ workshop taster in expressive writing for wellbeing. The Coates Centre in Lymington sits next to Oakhaven Hospice, and offers free support and information for those whose lives have been impacted by illness. This morning workshop was one of a range of wellbeing activities and complementary therapies on offer, aimed at helping the community to cope with the challenges that illness and loss brings.

Users of the Coates Centre may be bereaved, diagnosed with, or caring for someone with a life limiting illness, hence workshop participants were all familiar with the turmoil and trauma that can follow a diagnosis. Reflection, a chance to pause and to process some of that is crucial for well-being – but all too often we keep feelings and thoughts buttoned up.

The great thing about the writing exercises the group undertook is that there is no right or wrong; being part of a group is a safe outlet that provides permission for ‘getting it out’, and perhaps coming to make better sense of how life has changed.

Through pictures, the group were able to reconnect with joyful past times, and hopes for the future, share feelings that had remained hidden and even to laugh. Coffee and cake helped!

Inspired by a guided visualisation  exercise, the following poem  has been reproduced with kind permission from a member of the group.



She walks barefoot and silently between the trees towards the “God Rays” shafting through the branches to the leaf litter ahead.

The warmth of the sun in this oasis soothes her skin as she notices a peaceful meadow just beyond the wood.

Her instinct is to lie down amongst the softly waving grasses and lose herself to nature.
Sinking slowly onto the cool ground, she watches a bug, busy climbing a stem towards the light.
It spreads its wings and flies off like a ghost.

She ponders the fluffy clouds drifting above.
Just like her thoughts, she notices them and lets them go on their way.

A deer appears on the edge of the woodland.

Stock still;
Ears alert;
Nose twitching;
He surveys his domain.

Their eyes meet; neither moves:

He has a message. She can read it in his stance and feel it on the summer breeze.

“Go lightly. Go forwards. Resist reflection.”

She lies back in the buttercups and smiles.

Sally Child

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