The Pain of Loss

I write a lot about death. Murder, suicide, loss, grief.

This last Saturday was the five year anniversary of my grandmother’s death after numerous bouts with cancer. It’s a horrible, eerie feeling. How have I lived five years without her? How do I go the rest of my life without her?

In the six and a half years since meeting my husband, our lives have been marked by funerals and loss. My grandma, his two grandpas, his aunt, his uncle’s father, my father’s girlfriend, a good friend I loved like a sister, and the dads of two friends. And those were just the wakes or funerals we went to. Suicides affected two families we know of in that time. Two people close to us lost younger brothers.

And I’m not alone in my inability to move past some of these losses. This beautifully worded piece of autobiography chronicles a fellow Etsy seller’s journey back to functionality after the unexpected passing of her husband. I’m comforted to be let into the healing heart of a woman who’s lived through my own worst fear.

Even “Bates Motel” had an eloquent speech on grief in its recent fourth episode. The future killer, now impressionable youth Norman Bates told his classmate what he believes grief to be: the amount of time it takes for your body to let go of expecting the deceased to come back into your life. I might have misparaphrased it, but I can’t shake the feeling that he was absolutely right.

So why do I constantly focus on death? To understand it? To overcome my fear of that inevitable end?

Maybe it’s these self-exploratory reasons, but maybe it’s more. Maybe in writing about death, I’m also writing about how to move past death, reconcile it in our actual lives. Every time my characters bury a friend or loved one, even though I’m the one controlling how they grieve, I get to watch them heal. I get to see them pick themselves up and move on the way I want to - with strength and dignity and hope for tomorrow. I can’t let all of my characters heal this way, but the ones who do become role models because sometimes a death is too personal to talk to other people about.

I hope that writing about death will help other people, too, because I believe that writing should bring people together, not pull them apart. So if you’re hurting, I’m sorry, and I hope we keep moving toward a place where we feel better. I hope we focus on the good and the living and the better memories of those we loved.

I hope it brings us comfort.

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