Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Braving the Fire -- Writing About Grief and Loss

I've been fortunate, so far, in my life not to have been faced with an overpowering loss that left me grief-stricken and wanting to write about it. So why did I purchase this book?

Well, I've been around Jessica on several occasions and I know that she's a very talented writer (as well as an all round fascinating person.) Plus, I often get folks in my workshops of classes who are writing memoirs, thinly disguised as novels. So I thought this might be useful.

Handler organizes the process of writing about grief using Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief as experienced by the dying -- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, with the addition of a sixth, so necessary for the survivor -- Renewal.

Renewal is the goal for the grieving survivor -- the ability to continue on. 

"But grief is never over," Handler writes. ". . . There isn't closure, really. We don't want to forget or be forgotten. We want to develop the ability to celebrate what we love as we move forward, even if that dear person, place, or thing is no longer actively in our lives."  

The process of writing a memoir can help the survivor to come to terms with that loss, to, as Handler puts it, build a bridge that connects the person you were before the loss to the person you are now.

The book is full of the most excellent advice -- not just for writers (or teachers) of memoir but for those of us who write fiction too. As I read, I kept thinking about several characters in my work in progress, characters who suffer major losses, and reading Braving the Fire is helping me to deepen those characters in a very meaningful way. Funny how that works.

Jessica's website and more about the book are HERE.


Ms. A said...

In my opinion, grief is a huge part of life. Even if the grief is about our loss of self and the life we once had, but no longer have.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Sounds like a great book for helping with grief and loss as well as the develop characters for novels.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

thanks for this, Vicki

Barbara Rogers said...

Sounds like a good read. I often do read the books you recommend, and agree with your opinions 99% of the time.

Jime said...

The loss of a person place pet or time in the pass is also one of regret that I did not do more to make that person happy and whole or pay more attention to the place when I was there.

Darla said...

Thanks for this, Vicki. One of my goals, whenever I eventually get moved back to where I grew up, is to connect with a hospice or senior living community to support -- as a volunteer -- those people who might be interested in writing about their lives or experiences. I've found it helpful myself; I want to be available if someone else wants to do it. And being a "personal historian" for others is becoming an accepted job (without credentials, I would be limited to volunteering probably, which is fine). With Indie publishing, people can not only write their stories but publish them to gift to family members -- and I think this is valuable since verbal storytelling has fallen away.