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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dealing with Grief and Loss in Fiction and Life

So, as I was considering the finer points of a scene where I had to kill off one of my secondary characters, I got a call from a cousin in my hometown. My last remaining uncle passed away and the funeral would be in two days.

While I was so grateful we were able to visit with the family recently last at a happy occasion, it's always tough to go through those sad occasions. I found this on a Pinterest posting a while back:

 I don't know why, but I always seem to fight the blues a bit more in January. I tend to obsess about those who have passed more often this month. The aforementioned character passes in January, right before his little sister's birthday. Yes, I'm writing what I know. I also usually consider my mortality more frequently during winter. Pardon me for being a bit preoccupied.

 I know there are--but my husband and I don't have children. We will have to appoint friends and/or relatives to make sure our arrangements are carried out. I will be checking off my list of family to contact to help and ordering flowers tomorrow. I have to request time off work, figure out what to wear, get gas, make sure my husband has a ride to work and about a dozen other things. That's okay. We'll get it done. Because:
Here's a picture of me with Uncle Jim from a few years ago:

He and Aunt Shirley lived down the street from us. Their kids, my cousins, often traveled with us and we grew up together. Two of them work at my old high school. I feel their pain and I'm so sad, because I had to go through what they're going through when my parents passed several years back. But I am grateful we had Uncle Jim for as long as we did.

Truth. One of the first people I met when I went back to work after Mom passed was a woman who lost her mother when she was only fourteen. But, it's tough to go through what we have to to come out the other side. And for a while, we have to remember:

We need the peace of that boat on a lake, because when we lose our loved ones, life goes too fast, too frantic and too crazy.

My cousin was focusing in on what everyone was going to wear, what flowers to order, etc., much like what I was, because those are things we can control, things we have power over. We cannot stop the march of aging or the loss of death. We can only adjust our reactions, our behaviors, as we continue on without those we love.

 This was a tough lesson:

Then, since grief and loss is such an important part in our lives, since we're at the point in our lives where we lose people and need help in how to deal with those difficult aspects, we look to others with experience and knowledge for advice.
Doesn't it, though? As writers, it's important to share real life. It makes our fiction (and non-fiction) into an experience that will move our readers and make our work memorable. Remember:

Thanks for your kind thoughts. Put those experiences into your work and you may help yourself and others. Love ya!