Today I’m going to talk about loss and writing. If this is something that you feel might upset you, please either use caution reading or don’t read it at all.
Thank you and blessings.
Saturday the 22nd would have been Christine’s twentieth birthday. No doubt she would have been having fun at some college with all of her friends, because everyone loves her. With a big smile and goofy attitude. Probably wearing pink.
But, she wasn’t.
Christine’s death was accidental. A side-by-side rollover with a friend.
February marked the first year without Cousin Steve. June will mark my second birthday without my grandma—her birthday is a day after mine. August will mark three years since Jacob’s avoidable death while at work at the mine. 2017 will mark ten years since my high school and elementary lost two teachers, the school’s office manager, and a class helper.
The list goes on.
And it will always go on. The years will start to add for how long Christine has been gone. How long my grandma and Steve and Jacob and the teachers and staff have been gone.
Some people urge to write about it. “It’ll make you feel better!” Sometimes it does! Sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes, you feel like you’re ready, but when it comes to writing about it—you fall blank. It’s like your brain is trying to warn you not to go farther because it’ll only end bad.
I often want to write about the loss of my grandma. She was such a strong presence in my life. A baby of the Great Depression, when we tore down my childhood home—my grandma’s marriage home—we found used wrapping paper in the attic. When I stayed with her one time, she wouldn’t let me watch The Munsters because it would be too scary, little did she know I’d already begun my horror movie addiction. And when I graduated from high school, she told my parents she wouldn’t allow beer to be served—there was beer outside, I don’t think she ever knew.
Grandma was the first person I saw die. I’d been to plenty of funerals, the deaths during my freshman year of high school only a small portion. And I think that my addiction to horror movies prepared me watching my grandma fade. The three things I’ll always remember from that night are that there were no stars in the cloudless sky over Lake Toqua, she didn’t have her glasses on—something that made me very uncomfortable, and I stopped my little sister outside because I didn’t want her to see grandma that way.
A lot of people write memoirs and short stories about losing someone close to them. How it impacted them and the aftermath of it. Just because they do doesn’t mean it came easy for them. It might have, but the chance is better that it didn’t—think about regular writing, most of the time that drains you.
Writing about loss can be therapeutic. It can be frustrating and heartbreaking.
It can free you.
Even if you never publish your poem, story, or book, save little memories in a notebook. If it seems to daunting a task to write the whole story, this can help you to heal. A smell, photo, or place can trigger your brain to recall certain memories—I still associate Bath & Body Work’s Warm Vanilla Sugar and cigarette smoke with my high school English teacher who passed months into my freshman year. These memories might be with you for moments and jotting them down can help you to remember them later on or to look back on.
No matter what kind of loss you’ve had in your life, it impacts everyone differently. And it’s human nature to want to keep someone alive through words and memories.
Take your time. Heal at your own pace. Try not to push too hard.
If you’re interested, here are a few websites I found that talk about writing about loss: