I remember the year I turned 10 and my mother handed me a red leather Kahlil Gibran journal that had beautiful quotes at the top of each page. My grandmother had just committed suicide in my childhood home, and my mother knew that writing would help me feel better.
My mom was an English major in college and was dealing with her own grief, but as an only child who’d just lost her mother, she found it too challenging to manage my grief in addition to hers. It was the 1960s, and therapy was not commonplace. She figured that a journal would be a good substitute, and she was right.
My journal served as a springboard for questions begging for answers, such as why my grandmother had committed suicide at the age of 61 and why my parents wouldn’t allow me to go to her funeral. Instead, they sent me to stay with my aunt and uncle.
Writing also led me to ask other meaningful questions, such as, why was I an only child, and what it was like for my father to have survived the Holocaust?
For days on end, I sat in my walk-in closet with clothes hanging over my head, writing in my new journal. I poured my grief onto its pages.