Q. In my journal, I tend to write the unkind things that I wouldn't say in person. Should I destroy these journals so my loved ones don't read them after I am gone and suffer or should I leave them as an honest expression of my feelings at the time?

A.

Journaling is a wonderful means of self expression, allowing us to manage our feelings and express emotions, some of which may be negative and perhaps not meant to be voiced aloud. Writing enables us to vent these feelings in a safe place: your own collection of personal thoughts.

For most people, writing is private. You would feel upset if a family member came to your home and read your journal without your consent. If you keep your journals, chances are they will be read. As you are voicing concern regarding what is contained in your writing, I would listen to those feelings and consider how these journal entries might impact those you love.

If what you wrote are feelings that you want to share, I’d encourage you to do this in person so that the emotions can be put in context and there can be a give and take discussion about these personal thoughts and feelings. If you are not comfortable doing this, I would consider the consequences that what is contained in the journals could cause hurt to your family and possibly complicate their grief. If you do not want this to occur, I would make sure to secure your journal in a safe place to ensure they remain private.