How to Write About Grief
by Writing Workshops Staff
A month ago
Grief is a universal experience we all must face at some point in our lives. It can be incredibly difficult to navigate, and many people find solace in writing about their experiences. Writing a grief memoir or personal essay about grief can be a therapeutic way to process your emotions and share your story with others struggling with similar feelings.
First, it's essential to find a method of writing that works for you. Some people prefer to write by hand, while others may find it easier to type their thoughts on a computer. Whichever method you choose, be sure to set aside a dedicated space where you can focus on your writing without distractions.
As Nora McInerny writes, "Grief is not a straight line. It ebbs and flows in waves, sometimes gentle and sometimes overwhelming." It's important to acknowledge that your grief journey will not be a linear process and to allow yourself the space to experience the full range of emotions that come with grief.
Next, consider the structure of your piece. Some people find it helpful to start at the beginning of their grief journey and work chronologically through their experiences. Others may prefer to focus on specific moments or events that were particularly impactful. As Elizabeth Berrien writes, "Grief is love's souvenir. It is the price we pay for love." Consider the audience for your memoir and what you want them to take away from your story.
As you begin to write, it's essential to be honest and authentic in your storytelling. Grief is a complex and deeply personal experience, and there is no right or wrong way to express your feelings. Be sure to include details and emotions to help your readers understand what you are going through. As Earl Grollman writes, "Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve."
When writing about difficult experiences, taking care of yourself is crucial. Be sure to take breaks and practice self-care during the writing process. As Arthur Golden writes, "Grief is a most peculiar thing; we're so helpless in the face of it. It's like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time, and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it."
Remember that this is your story, and you have the power to shape it in a way that feels healing for you. Vicki Harrison writes, "Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim."
Through writing, you can heal yourself and provide support and comfort to others who may be struggling with similar experiences.
"Grief is not just a feeling; it is a journey," writes Rachel Naomi Remen. "It is a passage, a transformation, a metamorphosis. It is a movement from one state of being to another, from one way of seeing the world to another."
Here are some exceptional memoirs that deal with grief:
- "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion: In this poignant and powerful memoir, Didion writes about her husband's sudden death and her daughter's subsequent hospitalization. She reflects on how grief can overwhelm and transform one's life and how we try to make sense of loss and find meaning in the aftermath.
- "The Still Point of the Turning World" by Emily Rapp: This memoir tells the story of Rapp's struggle to come to terms with the death of her young son, Ronan, who was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease. It is a profoundly moving and honest exploration of grief, motherhood, and the search for hope and healing.
- "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis: This classic work of literature is a candid and poignant reflection on Lewis's experience of losing his wife to cancer. He writes about the various stages of grief he went through and how he tried to come to terms with his loss.
- "The Light of the World" by Elizabeth Alexander: This memoir tells the story of Alexander's marriage to her husband and the devastating loss she experienced when he died suddenly at age 50. It is a beautiful and poignant exploration of love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit.
- "The Dead Dad Club" by Matt Logelin: In this memoir, Logelin writes about the sudden death of his wife just days after giving birth to their daughter. He reflects on the challenges and joys of raising a child as a single father and how he learned to navigate the complexities of grief and loss.
Writing a grief memoir can be a powerful and therapeutic experience. By finding a writing method that works for you, considering your audience, and being honest and authentic in your storytelling, you can create a powerful and moving account of your grief journey.