Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Grief comes in odd moments, at odd times. We can go months, sometimes years, feeling as if we’re fine with something and then have grief over a loss hit us again.

I don’t regret getting divorced. We were hurting each other too much to stay married. My life is better and happier and I think his may be better too, now. I hope so. And yet...

And yet, last week I got hit by a wave of grief over the hopes and dreams that died with my marriage.

If we’re writers, it’s important for us to understand that emotions don’t always play out smoothly and neatly. We can create characters with greater depth if we allow for that and use it in our writing.

It’s also important to understand just because we’re human beings and will face times in our lives when we feel what we don’t want to feel.

Why did it hit me last week? A number of reasons, I suspect. One may be that a friend is going through a divorce with issues similar to some of what I dealt with and so I’m reminded of the sadness of accepting that what I always thought would be happily ever after didn’t turn out to be.

Another reason may be that as I work on my latest manuscript, I’m laughing and remembering how good it can feel to be connected on so many levels with another person. As my hero and heroine play tug of war over something each of them feels they should have, I’m reminded that in healthy relationships people can disagree—and not hurt each other in doing so.

Or maybe it’s recognizing all the changes in my life and knowing those changes are good ones so that I’m able to take time to grieve the losses I didn’t let myself grieve when all my energy went into building a new life for myself.

Life is complicated. If we recognize that and give ourselves permission to feel what we feel—as we take the steps we need to take—then we are likely to always keep moving forward. And as writers, when we let our characters be human and feel emotions at times when no one would expect them to, we bring those characters to life in a way that not only can make the story more compelling but also perhaps help provide a kind of roadmap for readers coping with unexpected emotions in their own lives.