Grief: A Reflection of What We Love – A Central Role in Fiction

Grief: A Reflection of What We Love – A Central Role in Fiction 1024 576 Reader Views

by Megan Weiss, Author of The Familiar Dead: Ghosts and Spiritualism in American Culture

We have been lonely.  We have been sad.  We have been angry and in denial.  The last year has been the ultimate test.  But still, we continue to hope, and plug along.

The thing about grief is that though it has an exact definition, it has no straight path or timetable.  It does not follow psychological rules or care about what stage of your life you are going through.  Grief only cares about making you feel.

According to Psychology Today, one of the most common misconceptions we have about grieving is that there is any kind of real “process” or “correct” way to go through it.  We have all heard the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  The truth is, however, that these stages were never meant to be applied to the grief process that follows the death of a loved one.  Instead, these stages were derived in order to help people cope with being diagnosed with their own terminal illnesses.  Somewhere along the way, however, people began to draw parallels between the personal grief process that comes after receiving terrible, life changing news and the more commonly accepted grief process that comes with death. 

Grief has no stage.

It follows its own track, at its own speed, and all we can do is ride the rollercoaster until it finally comes to an end one day.  Even then, however, the feeling never truly goes away.  It stays with you, like that feeling of having your stomach drop out from under you as you hurtle down the hill of a giant coaster.  Even after your feet are back on the ground, there is part of you that is still waiting for the rest of you to catch up.

Grief is not simple.

It is not meant to be.  It is different for each person, and each loss, and that means that no one should force themselves to “feel” according to a certain schedule or rule. 

Grief plays a central role in fiction.

There is something quite intimate about reading along with a character who is going through a loss – maybe even one that a reader can relate to.  Books that feature grief, death and loss allow those who are bereaved to have a safe avenue through which to process and express their inner tangle of dark, twisty emotions.  It helps the reader to know that they are not alone in experiencing such a state of despair. 

Fiction that features grief, death and loss also goes one step further: it helps readers to see how there is still light.  The tunnel might be dark and long right in that very moment in time, but just like the main character of a book, eventually the light will come back into their lives and they will be able to live again.  And usually, once you climb up out of the black hole of grief, the life we continue living is enhanced, because we are filled with a new purpose and vigor: to live the life our loved one was not able to have.

About the Author

I have had a passion for reading and writing since I was in junior high. I remember trying to write silly little stories as a kid in elementary school, and gradually worked my way up to reading and writing longer, more serious works.  The more experience I gained, and the more books I read, however, pulled me farther and farther into the literary world! I like to think that books found me at the times in my life when I needed to figure out where I belonged the most.

I have a Master’s Degree in Public History from Southern New Hampshire University, as well as Bachelor’s Degrees in Creative Writing and English and a minor in Anthropology. Most of my free time is spent getting overly emotionally attached to YA novels, hanging with my dog, or finding weird history topics to research.

My most notable publications are: The Familiar Dead: Ghosts and Spiritualism in American Culture, The Cobblestone Era: A History and The Spoken Word, a YA supernatural thriller.



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