Good GriefPosted: October 29, 2010
Grief is one of the most intense emotions in the spectrum of human emotions. Grief has driven men to murder and suicide, out of feelings of complete and utter despair. It is also one of the most powerful motivational tools a writer can have.Grief inspires such passionate, heartfelt writing, that its sincerity cannot be doubted. Even in fictional writing, touching, emotional scenes can be created by drawing on personal grief, and injecting feelings to produce a very convincing work. After all, we draw on our own experiences in everything write, so why wouldn’t this powerful emotion that stirs anguish and passion within us, become inspiration for some of our most moving creations?
Oh, sure. Anger and love rank up there in the highly inspiring motivations, as well, but there is something about grief that just grabs a hold of a person and latches on. Grief is not easily shaken. In fact, just thinking about a time when we grieved for the loss of a loved one is enough to bring those feelings back up close to the surface in an instant, no matter how long it has been since that loss was suffered. Now, I am not suggesting that anyone go and kill off a loved one for the sake of a story, but I am saying that when you have grief, you should learn to tap into it and channel the emotion into your writing.
When my son died two years ago, it didn’t seem like I would ever be able to write again, my sorrow was so overwhelming. While making preparations for his funeral, however, the matter of his eulogy came up, and I knew that I had to write it. It wouldn’t have been right to let someone else. The eulogy that I wrote was overflowing with the essence of who my son was and my feelings of loss, now that he was gone. That was the beginning of a long list of poetry and short stories that I have since written, that all draw on my grief from that same loss, as well as a good start on a memoir about his life and how he died. That collection has turned out to be some of my most moving work.
A well written book or story that has been inspired by grief brings tears to the eyes of readers. Grief is a strong and pungent emotion; it can become almost an addiction that you can’t get away from, no matter how hard you try, because it just won’t let go of you. Many writers drink in that bitter nectar and then channel it into something beautiful; something moving; something heart stirring. Written words of sorrow and despair have the ability to reach out from the page and grab readers, catching them unaware, and arousing their own sorrows and grief within themselves. Writers have realized this since the very origins of literature, when the grief of Gilgamesh, over the death of his friend, stirs in him a fear of death and a realization that he himself will someday die, which in turn, prompts him to journey into the realm of the Gods and the underworld, searching for eternal life.
So, the next time you feel tears brimming in your eyes, after you grab a tissue, rush to your notebook or keyboard and start writing. You never know when your grief will produce a passionate, moving story that will stir reader’s emotions and rock your world when it goes viral. I know. I’m still waiting for it, too, but don’t give up hope. It could happen!