Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, September 12, 2011

Writing Through Grief

Writing Song of the Day: "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Greenday


**Disclaimer: You may want to have Kleenex on hand ...**

We were debating whether or not we should do a post directly relating to yesterday's ten year anniversary of September 11th. It took us quite a few hours to decide if we would or if we'd just allow the numerous other blog posts (all very beautiful, thought provoking, and touching) to stand on their own and we'd take another approach. We'd like to discuss how writing can be a form of therapy when dealing with grief.


As writers, we all are guilty of putting ourselves in our material. Whether it be a character who loves cookie dough ice cream or hates football as much as we do. And me and Pam believe that as writers we also use our craft as a form of therapy.


When I was writing short stories to get into the MFA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, I wrote an entire story based on a young girl who was losing her father to cancer. I wrote this story a little while after my own dad lost his battle with cancer. Writing it helped me to get out the things I couldn't say, like: "I'm sorry for not always being there when you needed me, Dad." All I can hope is that he was reading over my shoulder.


When Pam lost her grandmother she wrote an essay in high school that helped her to express how she felt. She never talked about her grandmother's death and this essay let out all her sadness and the guilt that she kept bottled inside.



The point is: writing is GREAT for getting out pint up emotion, anxiety, and even anger. And when you feel like no one will listen, will care or will understand what you have to say--write it down! OR you can also READ.


Writing takes on a new form of therapy for those who read. Think about Peter Negron. The thirteen year old read the poem "Stars" by children's writer Deborah Chandra two years after his father was killed in the 9/11 attacks. That poem helped the teen to relay how he was feeling after losing his father. It offered a form of release, of understanding that two years earlier, Peter did not possess.



What about you all? Does writing and/or reading serve as a form of therapy for you?

10 comments:

Alicia Gregoire said...

Great post. When it comes to grief, I'm an emotionally-bottled up person so I work my way through it usually by reading.

Jamie Manning said...

Excellent post, ladies. And yes, writing is an excellent form of therapy. Not only to express things you may be having trouble expressing, but also because it allows that escape you so desperately need sometimes, you know? I love it (and you guys, too)!!

Karen Strong said...

Yes writing through grief is very therapeutic. I think getting the negative energy down on paper does wonders for your mind/body.

AmieSalmonYAWriter said...

I really have to agree with you, I wrote a whole novel that helped me cope with the loss of my Dad. And I've read so many other wonderful things written by other writers.

Tiffany Garner said...

This is definitely true. Though I've been fortunate to not lose many people in my lifetime, I've known many who have and experienced their grief secondhand. I've also felt a lot of heartache and pain in my own life related to depression, suicide, friends and relationships in general. It's not easy to express these to people in a real-life setting, but in writing we have the opportunity to let these emotions go. Writing can be extremely therapeutic and I encourage people struggling to try to work things out through prose of poetry, whichever it may be.

Lindsay said...

Excellent post. I do think writing is a great form of therapy. Sometimes talking can't express what we need when actual words aren't enough. But a blank piece of paper never tries to understands how we feel. It just lets us show it.

Pam Harris said...

Glad you all responded so well! :) Even though I'm a counselor, I actually have a hard time TALKING about my feelings. Give me a sheet of paper and I spill my guts, though.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

You're so right. I think sometimes putting those thoughts and feelings on paper is the only way to deal with them. As time passes, too, it's comforting (for me) to have a record of how I felt at a certain time.

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Absolutely. I've definitely written stories based on experiences I went though, and putting them down on paper did really help. I'm glad it helped you too!

Racquel Henry said...

Writing is definitely a form of therapy for me. I tend to do the most writing when I'm sad, angry or frustrated with something.