Grief and the Writer
We grieve over many things in our lives: Loss of loved ones through death or divorce, loss of opportunities, loss of health, of youth, of hope . . .
Greif is dangerous ground for a writer. We spend too much time in our heads thinking “what if?” All our emotions gather there as well. In fact, as storytellers, emotions are what stirs us on.
Except Grief isn’t stirring. Like a metal blanket, its weight smothers our inner light of creativity.
So, here is what I learn about grief.
- I either channel it into the work, or it destroys me. I can’t fight it. Greif is too overwhelming. But I can use it. I can invite it to dance and allow it a place on the page.
- Grief does pass. Not quickly and certainly not easily. I focus on one word after another because that is all I got until my grief works its way through me.
- If I don’t go on, I lose everything. That sentiment was hard to process. How can I continue when everything I believed about my life is challenged? With the loss of people close to me, I latched on to their faith in my talent and their good wishes for my future. With grief over life changes, I’ve had to learn to focus on what I can do, what I control.
Strategies I’ve employed to work through grief—
- Therapy. Grief is the gift that keeps on giving. It never leaves; it just reforms itself, sometimes surprising ways. Having a third party available to help process what I’m experiencing has been invaluable.
- Being kind to myself. No, I’m not worthless. I’m not to the end of my rope. I deserve to treat myself with loving respect.
- Going slow, breathing deep, and not panicking. Keep doing what I do.
- Finding accountability partners. Other writers and I compare word count. I have hired a life coach to help provide insight with goal setting. The writing life is full of bumps and grinds. I can over analyze and project craziness with the best of them, especially when I fall into the self-pity phase of grief. I need someone to provide balance.
- Trusting the talent of my editor, even if I have to hire that talent. The first manuscript I turned in after my husband died was gibberish. I am forever grateful to my editor who helped me pick my way through the mess.
And finally, this is the tough one, I must embrace change. Markets close, opportunity dries up, people I love die or leave, and I age. I had not imagined I would be alone at this stage of my life or that there would be so many sweeping changes in the writing market. I assumed, once in, it would all be easy. However, that is not the way the world runs. My strength is in my acceptanceof what is taking place in my life.