Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Grief and the Writer - @BonnieEdwards

My aunt passed away last month. My last remaining auntie on my mom’s side. The last of her siblings.

She had a long and fruitful life. She lived into her early nineties and left behind children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who will remember her well.

These are the things that I told myself for the first two weeks after she passed. But as her Celebration of Life grew closer, I grew more despondent without even realizing why. Then the other day, I realized I had all the symptoms of grief.

I felt blue, I was losing sleep, and lately, I’d been unable to make decisions. That was the final realization that I’d succumbed to grief. I even had a brief angry stage and found myself not wanting to return phone calls or be around other people.

The difficulty surrounding decision making is particularly challenging for writers. Every day we need to decide various things. Should I write a new scene, revise a scene, write ad copy or blurbs? Should I attempt to write a blog? (I couldn’t decide what to write for this blog until yesterday!) Should I bother doing promo when none of it seems to work? Which cover would work best? Even the dreaded: why should I bother with any of this?

Last week, I was supposed to look at 148 photos I had done with a photographer. It’s a simple publicity photo. I did not want to look like a real estate agent. I wanted something fun and flirty. I took several different tops and dresses and scarfs for the photo shoot. He took the shots.

Afterward, I felt that somehow I’d missed out on some fun…that I’d only been smiling with my lips, not my heart. That’s not me. He sent me the proofs so I could choose three favourites so he can make them look fabulous.

When I couldn’t even narrow down to ten likely photos, I realized that my decision-making had basically ground to a halt. I declined a dinner invitation because, frankly, I didn’t feel like feigning happiness when all I wanted was to lick my wounds.

My last bout of serious grief was over twenty years ago when my parents passed within three years of each other. Since then, I’ve had lots of conversations with writers about their grief, about how we need to be kind to ourselves and not push too hard when it comes to writing. 

I think it’s time to take my own advice. I’ll be kinder to myself for the next few weeks and remind myself to not stress about not making decisions. My publicity photo can wait (it’s been five years since the last one…this one can wait a while longer). I’ll read more. I’ll make some lunch dates with writer friends.


I’ll take the time I need to come back to myself.  I will choose three photos in a few days and then start using the one I think best represents the real me: the fun one who smiles with her heart. 

My latest release is exclusive to this boxed set for now. In my story Whole Lot o' Love you'll find me, writing warm characters and humour...the real me. 

14 comments:

  1. This was the kind of grief I felt last year when my mother-in-law passed. Hugs to you until you come out the other side with sweet memories and decision-making capabilities intact.

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    1. I know I'll get to where the memories are easier and sweet again. It will just take time and I'm trying to give myself a break. But it's tough not to pressure myself. Thanks Liz.

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. This was a really good post. Thank you!

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  3. My deepest condolences, Bonnie. Take care.
    Love and lots of hugs,
    Jo-Ann

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  4. Sorry, Bonnie. Treasure all those feelings and emotions so they spill into your writing when you're ready.

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  5. I'm so sorry about your aunt, Bonnie. Be kind to yourself!

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    1. Hannah, thanks. I'm making some strides but have decided not to update my photo after all!

      My daughter tells me I look sad in the proofs...this without even reading this post or being aware of my funk.

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  6. Each new grief has the potential to echo with the memories of an old grief, layering it on, helping it sneak further into our psyche. It is hard. It is supposed to be hard. Now that you've made the realization, slowly, day by day it will become easier to bear, and life will resume a useful rhythm again, as it did the last time. and in the meantime {{{{{{hugs}}}}}

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    1. Oh, Diana...thanks for these words. I appreciate you coming here to share them.

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  7. I'm sorry for your loss, Bonnie. Two years ago, my last auntie died. The realization that my mom who was an only child and all my dad and all of his siblings and their spouses were gone was a milestone in life I didn't want to acknowledge. Grief eventually wears itself out, leaving memories of the good times and an echo of pain, but not the sharp sense of loss each time you think of it.

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    1. It's true that the end of an entire generation is a shock. I knew I'd miss this aunt, because of lots of things, but the depth of the grief took me by surprise. I do feel a lightening, though and every day seems a bit brighter. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I'm sorry for your losses.

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