The May 16 blog on Reader Views is written by Megan Weiss and it’s titled: Grief, A Reflection of What We Love – A Central Role in Fiction.
She says: “I have had a passion for reading and writing since I was in junior high. Books are treasures, and I have always believed that knowledge is one of the best tools anyone can have, in any and all forms. I remember starting to write silly little stories when I was in elementary school, and gradually experimented with longer, more serious works as I grew older and got into high school. I did not initially intend to be a writer when I grew up, but the more experience I obtained and the more books I read, the further I got pulled into the literary world. I like to think that I did not find writing as a career, writing found me and taught me where I truly belong in the world.”
In the blog, Ms Weiss says, “The thing about grief is that though it has an exact definition, it has no straight path or timetable. It does not follow psychological rules or care about what stage of your life you are going through. Grief only cares about making you feel.
According to Psychology Today, one of the most common misconceptions we have about grieving is that there is any kind of real “process” or “correct” way to go through it. We have all heard the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The truth is, however, that these stages were never meant to be applied to the grief process that follows the death of a loved one. Instead, these stages were derived in order to help people cope with being diagnosed with their own terminal illnesses. Somewhere along the way, however, people began to draw parallels between the personal grief process that comes after receiving terrible, life changing news and the more commonly accepted grief process that comes with death.
Grief has no stage.
It follows its own track, at its own speed, and all we can do is ride the rollercoaster until it finally comes to an end one day. Even then, however, the feeling never truly goes away. It stays with you, like that feeling of having your stomach drop out from under you as you hurtle down the hill of a giant coaster. Even after your feet are back on the ground, there is part of you that is still waiting for the rest of you to catch up.
Grief is not simple.
It is not meant to be. It is different for each person, and each loss, and that means that no one should force themselves to “feel” according to a certain schedule or rule.
Grief plays a central role in fiction.
There is something quite intimate about reading along with a character who is going through a loss – maybe even one that a reader can relate to. Books that feature grief, death and loss allow those who are bereaved to have a safe avenue through which to process and express their inner tangle of dark, twisty emotions. It helps the reader to know that they are not alone in experiencing such a state of despair.
Fiction that features grief, death and loss also goes one step further: it helps readers to see how there is still light. The tunnel might be dark and long right in that very moment in time, but just like the main character of a book, eventually the light will come back into their lives and they will be able to live again. And usually, once you climb up out of the black hole of grief, the life we continue living is enhanced, because we are filled with a new purpose and vigor: to live the life our loved one was not able to have.”
I like Ms Weiss’ point that there is no correct personal definition of Grief: there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and no correct formula for getting past it. In my novel, Granduncle Bertie, which will be out later this year, there is considerable exploration of death: of a child, of a brother, of an adult son, and of several older people. In spite of all that, it is not a sad book, but it is true that the affected characters all deal with their grief in different ways.