Preserving memories and sharing memories often go hand-in-hand. However, not every part of a “Treasure Chest” needs to be shared with loved ones, or anyone at all. There’s room—and some very good reasons—to include personal writing that you keep to yourself.
You don’t have to feel compelled to share your memories to want to preserve them. Writing for yourself and only for yourself can be cathartic and healing.
Personal writing to work through the past
There’s a reason diaries come with locks. If you’re writing to work through past events, go ahead, indulge yourself, and write as if no one is watching. There’s nothing selfish about this. Working through painful past events with future readers in mind can handicap you. To process and make sense of your past, write without filters. After you’re done, you can decide if you want to share or create a sanitized version (or one edited for style) to share.
We all have different comfort levels with baring our souls. If sharing your personal writing or having people know about your personal tragedies, keep it private. There’s nothing selfish about this. Write to process, remember, heal, lament, or rant. Put your emotions into words. No one has to know.
Writing for someone who has passed
Grief counselors often advise writing a letter to a person who has died. Write just for this person. Say all the things that you wish you’d said and include the things you couldn’t say enough. You can keep it, burn it (think of your words in smoke rising to the heavens), or bury it with your loved one. It’s your grief and you get to decide when sharing is helpful and/or appropriate. (See Navigatinggrief.com for other ideas of writing to share or not.)
Do no harm
Sometimes it’s not a question of if you want to share, but more a question of is it ok to share. If your writing will hurt someone else, or if sharing has the potential of damaging relationships, think carefully before sharing. You can also think whether your sharing jeopardizes someone or something else, such as a prosecution or someone else’s relationship. This doesn’t mean you can write to process your part of the event; a “treasure chest” can keep secrets as well as treasures.
© Laura Hedgecock 2013
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.