Let me tell you something about, well, about me. I didn’t learn to process grief properly until my father died. That doesn’t mean I was debilitated by loss. It means I pushed down my grief over the deaths of loved ones, the demise of relationships and a myriad of other important parts of my life. Each time a new loss happened, it became harder to push it down. After a family altercation, close on the heals of losing my father, I imploded.
It took a while but I finally found stable ground. Of course I had the help able counselors and other professionals. Part of my healing process was to research ways of dealing with loss. Knowing the five stages of grief: 1) Denial and Isolation 2) Anger 3) Bargaining 4) Depression 5) Acceptance hadn’t helped me up to that point. But when I learned that it’s possible to get stuck in grief, the road to healing opened up.
According to William Worden there are four main tasks of healthy grief recovery:
- Accepting the reality of the loss;
- Working through the pain and complexity of grief;
- Adjusting to an environment in which the important person, place, activity, relationship, etc. is missing;
- Moving away from grief and longing for what is lost, and finding a place for it in our memories as we move on with life.
I always skipped the second step, choosing instead to push it away. Out of sight out of mind. It seemed to work. I got on with life. Inevitably, the little compartment in which I stuffed things became full, leaving no room for those pesky emotions I didn’t want to deal with.
As with most things, I wrote about it. I created two characters who suffered the same loss and juxtaposed them. One dealing with grief in a healthy manner, the other stuck in perpetual grief. And thus The Widows of Wyatt Abney was born. It took six months to write the first draft and it helped me work through years of personal pain and bereavement. It was cathartic.
Now, for the purpose of drama in fiction, I exacerbated the emotions and the characters go to extremes. It’s my hope that it will be published and ultimately help someone having trouble dealing with grief. If you are one of those people, don’t wait for my book. I encourage you to find a way to work through it. Don’t get stuck. If you need help, ask.