On Grief and Writing
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Originally posted: https://mailchi.mp/cb621687503d/august-newsletter-8045548?e=6749e3a99d
“Grief is a swear word or haven’t they heard?”
This is a line from my MG contemporary fantasy novel, which focuses on a pre-teen’s experiences after the passing of her mum.
You may ask why I chose to sully your Monday morning with such heavy weather. Bear with me.
According to a national survey in 2004, approximately 3.5% of children and young people had experienced a death of a parent or sibling* – that’s roughly one child per classroom! Someone referred to this statistic last week and I was shocked. Grief affects all ages and stages of life. Over the last few months with the COVID-19 pandemic, many, from young to old, have been bereaved and this topic may hit closer to home.
While I was at university, I suffered a loss and writing was one thing that helped with my grief. I was in my second year of university and had to get my exams deferred. Upon passing (barely) and entering into my third year, I used my love of writing as an outlet. Instead of a standard dissertation, I chose to do creative one, which included a collection of free and fixed poems on bereavement and a reflective commentary. The collection was to be called, “Lost and Found”.
Now, I’m not asking you to whip out a whole poetry collection in the midst of grief. It may take some time to be able to speak about a loss, talk less write about it. But I wanted to share the benefits of writing whenever you are ready.
Writing can be therapeutic
Through my poetry collection, I was able to write down everything and anything I felt. Feelings are fine whatever they may be – whether it be anger, sadness or anything in between. There is something freeing about not having any constraints on what you write.
Better out than in
You have probably heard this phrase many times. However, it is applicable to grief and writing. Keeping all those complicated thoughts and feelings trapped inside can make it harder.
Moving forward is probably the hardest part. Writing can help you take a step into your new and sometimes unrecognisable future. You may be scared you’ll forget your lost loved one by moving on, but you never do.
It doesn’t have to be poetry; that’s just what worked for me. You might find relief in writing letters, memoirs, novels or just freeform reflections on your feelings. If you’re going through any form of grief, whether it be the loss of a parent, sibling, family member, child or a friend – one day you’ll be able to breathe slightly easier. Writing doesn’t bring them back but it does bring their life to the page. It’s a place where they’ll live on for you and where you can process your loss.
Fauth, B., Thompson, M. and Penny, A., 2009. Associations Between Childhood Bereavement And Children’s Background, Experiences And Outcomes: Secondary Analysis Of The 2004 Mental Health Of Children And Young People In Great Britain Data. [ebook] London: National Children’s Bureau, p.15. Available at: http://lx.iriss.org.uk [Accessed 2 November 2020].