A Writing Intervention for a Bereaved Family Caregiver
The Finding Balance Intervention (FBI) is a booklet that describes the processes of finding balance, with examples from others who have been through this experience, and provides writing assignments for each process of finding balance.
The writing focuses on identifying emotions and how to deal with these emotions, structuring a support system, and reflecting on their caregiving experience. There are 3 sections and additional space for creative writing.
Instructions are provided such as, find a comfortable place, don’t worry about spelling or grammar, and if possible, write for 10 to 15 minutes a day. The goal of finding balance during bereavement is described, including how to feel somewhat in control, to be able to find a new identity, to build self-confidence, to feel comfortable with your new life, and to be able to look forward to the future.
The tool encourages reflection, focused writing, with the overall goal of encouraging a person who is bereaved to find their own unique way of moving ahead in their grief.
The writing exercises are separated into 3 sections which are key processes we have discovered in our research;
- Deep grieving is about expressing your emotions while also writing about “time out” activities and creating a support system.
- Walking a fine line is about combining two extremes, activities that take you back to grieving and activities that involve looking forward.
- Moving forward consists of activities that address the process of moving forward such as being thankful, planning the day, reaching out to others, and taking time to care for one’s self.
At the beginning of each section is a small definition provided by others who have experienced bereavement. Those definitions and directions are provided here as a quick overview of what activities the intervention entails.
Creative Space to Journal
Feel Free to Journal your Thoughts, Activities & Feelings in this Section
All three of the sections have significant spaces for these aspects of free form writing and reflection.
Section 1: Deep Grieving
This section consists of activities that address the process of deep grieving. Others have described Deep Grieving as feeling empty after the loss of their partners through statements such as; “woke up to the same emptiness”. However they did express a need to experience solitude, as it provided important time for reflection and self-restoration.
Expressing Your Emotions
Find a way to express your emotions, you can make a daily list of your feelings or you can call a loved one with whom you feel comfortable. Keep in mind tears are a natural part of the grieving process. Allow yourself to feel your emotions then ask what can you do with them? Give yourself permission to express these emotions.
Sometimes we need to plan to take a “time out” from all these difficult emotions. What might help to distract yourself? Go for a walk? A movie? Call someone?
Create a Support System
Write a list of supportive people that you can contact when you need to. These can be family, friends, grief groups, counselors, etc. Next to their name write their phone number and how they are most helpful. This list will act as a supportive directory for you when you need help with specific things.
Section 2: Walking a Fine Line
This section consists of activities that address the process of walking a fine line. Others have described walking a fine line as combining two extremes; “You are doing activities that take you back to grieving and also activities that you are doing everyday and looking forward to something else.”
Each of the activities has a brief guide to give you ideas about how you may wish to start them. Your grief is unique and each strategy must be tailored to fit you as an individual.
To find balance it is important to address all areas of grieving including walking a fine line that seems to be the middle ground between maintaining the past and moving forward.
Maintaining a Balance of Daily Life
Using a weekly calendar try scheduling 3 activities a week and 3 different ways you will take time for yourself. The activities will keep you connected to the outside world, while the time for yourself will honor your need to rest and relax.
Find a way to create a unique ritual, service, or special event to help your loved one live on through remembering them. ie: Planting a tree, Creating a scholarship, Fundraising event, Special memorial event.
Section 3: Moving Forward
This section consists of activities that address the process of moving forward. Others have described the importance of being thankful, planning the day, reaching out to others, and taking the time to care for one’s self. One said; “slow and steady keeps me balanced – moving forward.”
Each of the activities has a brief guide to give you ideas about how you may wish to start them. Your grief is unique and each strategy must be tailored to fit you as an individual. To find Balance it is important to address all areas of the grieving process including the task of moving forward.
My Story Makes Me Stronger
It is important to acknowledge that what you have been through has made you stronger. Make a list of what makes you strong. What activities that give you inner strength? What personal spiritual beliefs help you make sense of the loss? How did they change? Are there ways in which you have grown as a person? What has your experience caregiving and loss taught you about what others may need? How will this help you with others?
- What is your story of caregiving & how might this story help others?
- What lessons can you share about your experiences?
Resources for the Finding Balance Intervention
Download the self-administered writing intervention journal. A writing tool to help adults find balance after caregiving.
Finding Balance Intervention Poster:
Our Honoring the Voices of Bereaved Caregivers videos can be found at the following links: