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Writing Through Grief

Writing for me is now mostly a way of life. It’s part of every day, my routine and a lot of my conversations. I tell stories. I paint scenes with a thousand words, and I love doing it. For the most part it makes me feel better, makes me feel like the world is right and I’ve done something productive within it.

The writing process for me is very emotional. I draw on the full range of emotions and experiences in my memory to try and evoke those emotions in whoever might read the story. I feel everything my characters feel, I often cry when they cry, find myself smiling when they smile, my heart pounds when theirs does, and even occasionaly I laugh out loud when they laugh.

Often, when I describe it to people I say that each emotion is a different tool on my desk. I have a red pen for all the passion and romance, a black pen for all the despair, a blue pen for sadness and a glitter pen for all the sparkly happy moments etc. I paint my scene with whichever colours and shades are needed, layering them up until I have the right blend and have a complete picture of all the complicated emotions that go into being a person or, in this case, one of my characters.

When my Grandma died (and even, before that, when she was taken into hospital) it was like someone had come into my office and messed up my desk. They’d moved everything and mixed black in with all my other colours so everything came out with a smear of black. For ages the happy emotions I would normally paint a scene with were tainted so badly when I tried to use them I came out with a brown gunky mess that wasn’t anything like the scene I was aiming for. No matter what emotion I tried to access it resulted in a flood of tears, or anger that had me almost hurling the nearest object.

Slowly, day, by day, some of the black has been filtered out of the colours. A lot of them are so close to their original colours now that I doubt most people would be able to tell the difference, but I still can. And for now, sitting down at my desk and working doesn’t feel quite right, but it’s getting there, and sometimes, for a bit, I can pick up a colour and paint with it and forget that anything ever happened to upset my desk and my writing world. But sometimes I notice, and sometimes I cry.

Tough Start to the Year

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve blogged very little so far this year. I’ve found myself rather overwhelmed. At the start of the year one of the most special members of my family passed away, my Grandma. She was almost 80, had diabetes and a few other health issues so in general terms she did quite well, but I was comfortably assured in my belief that she was going to be around as long as I wanted and needed her to be. Rationally of course I knew life and death wasn’t like that, but some people should live a lot longer than they do.

I’ve found it very difficult to write since she died and I’m still struggling a little, but I thought I’d share a poem I wrote for her recently. I think I’m going to call it But Not Yet.

Your front door was always open,
With a hug that warmed the heart.
One day we’ll be with you again,
But not yet.

You cooked a roast like no one else,
And for afters, ice-cream and flake.
One day we’ll get to taste it again,
But not yet.

You wanted to hear about our dreams,
And were always full of encouragement.
One day we’ll get to share them again,
But not yet.

You were always there to listen.
When we were troubled, you called us pet.
One day we’ll get to talk to you again,
But not yet.

You had a smile that lit up your eyes,
And a laugh we’ll never forget.
One day we’ll get to see you again.
But not yet.