There is a lot to grieve about these days. You may have noticed posts from Pens Around the World about global climate change and pollution. On an individual level, any one who lives long enough is going to experience some kind of major loss, or many losses. It’s also hard to forget that we’re four years into a global pandemic that changed many of our lives (read posts about COVID-19 here and here). And there always seems to be so much tragedy going on in the news, including multiple wars and millions of displaced people around the globe.
Do you use your writing to work through your grief? Whether through memoir or fiction, many of us writers find writing is a way to process the grief. I wrote a 46,000 word memoir about the death of my sister, which I then put away in a metaphorical drawer.
There is a whole sub-genre of grief memoir on the shelves. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Comfort by Ann Hood, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala’s about the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka are promiment examples about tragic loss of immediate family members. Some would argue that Erica Jong worked out her grief over her philandering husband through writing Fear of Flying. Personal grief results from many life events including divorce, aging, moving from a childhood home. Societal or collective trauma or grief may come from many sources natural disaster, war, or displacement. I have a friend, Nadija Mujagic, who wrote a memoir about her adolescent years during the war in Bosnia.
Do you have a story of unprocessed grief to write? Write your own story or use one of the images in this post to prompt a piece of fiction.
How do you put the pieces back together following an event that causes grief? I recently learned about the Japanese art of kintsugi and then created a piece of it after I shattered a bowl in my kitchen. Think about the pieces of yourself that are left after a difficult loss and write about how to put them back together.