Enduring Grief

If you’ve never experienced grief, check yourself for plugs, because you’re in the first Matrix.  Whether through the death of a loved one or even a pet, by the loss of a job or broken relationship, we all experience grieving.  It is our reaction to bereavement and a process we work through.  Most of us have heard of the “Five Stages of Grief” or variations of the list, but is it a reflection of what happens or an arbitrary list?

A man, whose wife I visited in the hospital for six months, recently passed away.  While she was still alive, he began the process of illness grief.   His anger stage was particularly bad, because he lashed out at loved ones for never doing enough even though they were right there beside him in her room.  By showing them the stages of grief, I was able to help them overcome the pain of his words and to continue helping him cope.  Now that she is gone, he will enter the process of grieving once again.  There is sickness and death, so both have their own processes.  How I wish we could combine them, but our hearts won’t let us.

Another friend had the “love of his life” leave him.  The one leaving may grieve, but the one left is almost always sent for a loop in the grief process.  There is the shock that it is over when and if the other says it directly.  Some beat around the bush or play games, which makes it much worse.  The bereaved goes through the loss process and sometimes gets lost because they refuse to move on.  “Stalking ex’s” get caught in the “anger and bargaining” stage, whereas trapping oneself in the “depression” stage can lead to suicide.  The only way to move on is to decide that it is over and there is nothing that will change that.  Only then will we open the door of light at the far end of the tunnel.

In job loss, we find the same process in action.  We are shocked and angry.  Bargaining occurs in conversations with either our former employer in person or in the mirror.  Perhaps we converse with them as we pace the living room floor?  Depending on the number of years we worked at the place, despair can be powerful and gut wrenching.

I sometimes wonder if the writing/querying/rejection thing writers deal with has some elements of grieving.  Anyone?


17 responses to this post.

  1. The grief process is so individual that defining it is near impossible…that is my experience.



  2. Yes, it’s very personal, Michael. After twenty-five years as a counselor and hospital chaplain, I’ve learned not to place people into models. The diagrams only help give a basic understanding of emotional transitions.


  3. I think there probably are writers who go through various stages of grief, but for the most part I think writers accept rejection and move on and query others. The key to rejection for a writer who truly believes in their work is to never give up. There may be a hundred rejections that lead to one acceptance.


    • Good point, Janet. The first rejections or the one from that one person we just know will get us…yada, yada, but a writer gets beyond that and develops a thicker skin. I’ve been amazed by some of the tirades I’ve seen in blogs though. O.o


  4. I wonder is there a thin line between grief and negativity. Alot of the writers seem to focus on negativity, is this because of their grief, as you rightly pointed out. Or is this because this is what they feel is the easiest thing to relate to…………………


    • The negativity comes from that feeling of grief, however mild. Author’s see, or think they see, their dreams die. The reality is, it was just a business transaction for the other person. They said, “sorry, not my thing” or “You’re not ready yet” and we can hear “You are pathetic and a loser.” Grief in the loss of a loved one comes from the onset of reality; grief from writing comes from a lack of perspective.
      That was a good observation Sarwah.


      • Thank you, just saddens me, especially now that there is so much grief. Is it the financial crisis, or was it always there and now it is highlighted?

  5. Reblogged this on THE HIGHS, the lows, The Inbetweens and commented:
    Should this be seen as grief or just negativity that is the question?


  6. Posted by Becky Doughty on September 21, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Perhaps it’s like that moment when you’re waiting to hear that the treatments are working…but then the doctor shakes his head. Despair, yes, wondering if there’s still hope, yes.

    Interesting observation, PJ.



    • Thanks, Becky. I turned it into writing, but it came from a deeper loss. I sat with a grieving family and in the lull thought about writing. There was no comparison to the depth of emotion, but some thoughts such as these swam though my head. As you know, writers sink or swim, so I swam. 🙂


  7. But we had hope, we had a life, why is this not focused on, the good points, only just the bad……….


    • Therein lies the healing process from any bereavement. Hence the need to work through the process to get to the hope and victory on the other side. Never give-in to despair! 🙂


  8. In Ghana, when a person dies we hold three parties – one for our loss, and the other as a celebration that the person has gone to a better place, and for the life, they lead, and third to Thank God, for knowing such a person…………costly, but think it reflects the true meaning of life…….


  9. Posted by joepote01 on September 25, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    Shattered dreams always result in grief.

    The level of grief depends on how long and how closely the dream has been pursued (level of emotional attachment), as well as how completely it has been shattered (a setback or a complete obliteration).

    One thing I find fascinating (and disconcerting) is the growing realization that sorrow compounds over a lifetime. Each time I grieve a deep sorrow, I find myself not only grieving the current sorrow, but also reliving and regrieving all past sorrows.

    At times, it feels as though the whole earth is groaning under the burden of human sorrow.

    No wonder, the Apostle John, in his later years, exclaimed “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”


  10. Ha! The writer / rejection thing. It is at least manic / depressive. And yes, you have to grieve the loss every time you get criticism, process it and then return to the manuscript – up and take another. It’s kind of like job hunting.


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