The Healing Power of Writi ng


he death of Helen Webb’s husband was not a surprise. Despite the protracted course of his illness that gave her time to prepare, Helen was still overwhelmed by the grief she experienced when he died. Despairing and searching

for a way to deal with the sorrow that engulfed her, she turned to writing.

During the surreal days leading up to her husband’s death,

she discovered the moments she spent writing in her journal were a form of respite that enabled her to maintain mental equilibrium. After his death, she turned back to what she had written. In her own words she found release for her grief and the beginning of healing. Eventually Helen decided she would share what she wrote.

The responses she received to her words were immediate and affi rming. In 2016 the Second Spring Arts Festival in Winston- Salem recognized her with its Literary Gold Award for the remem- brance she wrote about those painful days. Entitled “The Porch,” Helen wrote: “Today I am sitting on the

porch to escape from what is happening inside the house. My husband is in the process of dying. . . In late afternoon I can escape to the front porch. Here I can use the phone to make calls to family and friends. Calls which I do not want overheard. Here I can write in my journal. Here I can ponder death while watching cars go by or wave to neighbors walking. . . . . Here my eyes watch the world go by while my heart breaks and my soul cries out to God. Here the beauty of life and death merge.” Helen is the not the only writer to achieve real cathartic re- lease and healing from grief through writing about the loss of a spouse. Pat Bertram, a nationally known author of thrillers and fantasies has said that her best-selling book was not one of her novels but the journal she kept for 20 months years after the death of Jeff, who had been her soulmate for 34 years. Entitled Grief, the Great Yearning, the poignant narrative records her thoughts,

remembrances and emotions, allowing the reader to follow as she gradually emerges from the depths of sorrow into a new life of hope and light. Pat reports that she has been contacted by in- dividuals from around the world who have expressed gratitude for her capturing in written words what they too had experienced,

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