When grief rears its dark, draining head, few of us think about writing. However when you write about loss, that putting pain and fears to paper can be therapeutic and can help others understand our journey.
Loss isn’t limited to the death of a loved one. The onset of many life crises is the loss of something. A relationship, a value, a sense of purpose. A cherished pet or heirloom. A job or career.
Loss of a Relationship, Sense of Identity
Our worldview changes when life chooses to make an illegal U-turn. A loss of a relationship can also entail a loss of an identity.
Write about when you’ve had to make peace with a new version of “normal.” A divorce, job loss, or career change can also spark feeling of a loss of identity. How did you right yourself? How did you regain your sense of self? Such stories have the power to connect across generations.
A local friend tells of her pre-teen loss of innocence. The Oakland County child killer and the panic he instilled in the entire Detroit metro area robbed her and her friends of carefree afternoons, riding bikes to each other’s houses. Of going out to play out from under the anxious, watchful eyes of their parents.
The bubble of invincibility that buffets children against the horrors of the adult world popped, she says. In its place came an imagination that ran rampant. It colored not only her own development, but the eventual choices she would make as a parent. This story resonates now with her children who are now starting to think about raising children of their own.
Loss of Physical Ability, Memory
Write about loss of physical ability and memory as well. These make poignant stories. Our mortal, frailer-than-we’d-like-to-admit bodies betray our still active minds by refusing to work, or at least work as well as we’d like. They force us to fight disease instead of those life battles we want to mount.
Perhaps you’ve had to bear helpless witness as a particularly cruel disease causes a family member to misplace memories, even their sanity. Past moments, even the recognition of loved ones, fade into oblivion. These moments of heartache tell stories of love and devotion.
Your Turn: What else have you lost?
Along the road, whether by virtue of physical maladies or of the life sh** that happens, we lose things. Intangible things. Confidence. Independence. Hope. Faith. Courage. Our groove.
Don’t you think these moments are important to share? What would you want your loved ones, especially those of future generations, to take away from your story? Of course, they’ll be touched by your loss, but they can also learn from your healing or your renewed perspective. Perhaps they’ll even discover that resilience isn’t inborn, but something that can be gathered along the way, even on the roughest, dirtiest roads.