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Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Do Your Characters Grieve?



This week I lost a very dear friend, my 18 year old cat. She’d been with me side by side through huge changes in my life, and really was a furry family member. For me part of the healing process after a death is telling stories about that person (furry or otherwise). I realized this was my way when I lost my father when I was 19, and my best friend (of the human variety) 5 and a half years ago.

When I lost my father, friends would try and steer me away from talking about him, just so I wouldn’t cry. But I began to realize that if I could talk about him, share stories about him, it helped ease the pain. The same was true when I lost my very dear friend Noelle, and even now when I lost my crazy, sweet kitty, Growl Tiger. Stories and remembrances help me secure that person in my life and remind me how lucky I was to have them when I did.

Now, being a writer, I’ve realized that grief and grieving can have a big impact on fictional characters as well. Even if the reader NEVER sees the death, or even the grief, you as the writer should be fully aware of how this person you’ve created grieves. Who have they lost in their lives? How old were they? What changed when that happened? This is something to be looked at for all characters- your villains too. Unless they are a socio-path, humans grieve. We all grieve differently, but we grieve. If you add that to your characters, you give them one more layer of life.

Now go out and hug everyone you love, and get back to writing.


Growl Tiger Sept 1993- May 22, 2012

20 comments:

  1. I'm sorry about your cat. Loss is never easy, and it sounds like you've endured your fair share.

    You're absolutely right about a writer needing to know how your characters grieve. It is a crucial part of who they are and says a lot about them. In the end, all real people grieve. All fully developed characters do too.

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    1. Thank you L.G., it's not easy, but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger (at least I hope).

      Marie Andreas- blogging from work- can't get on Blogger

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  2. Ditto what LG said about writers and people. I've written grieving characters and it's something I think authors shouldn't overlook. I'm sorry to hear about your fur baby. I have fur family that I still miss, many many years later. Hugs.

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    1. Thank you for coming by Kayelle. I agree- it's a part of being human, so to make our characters real, they did to grieve (even if "off camera").

      Thank you for the hugs :), these little furry babies make such an impact on our lives- we never stop missing them.

      Marie Andreas- blogging from work- can't get on Blogger

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  3. Sorry for your loss.

    My WIP deals with the different stages of grieving. A whole town is faced with it and get sort of stuck in it. Thanks for a post that gets me thinking. :)

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    1. Thank you Tamara. You WIP sounds very interesting, and I'm glad my post got you thinking.

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  4. I am so sorry for your loss. I went through the same thing with my cat Ollie last May. He was 18 1/2, older than my firstborn son. I still miss him and I think I always will. And there's nothing wrong with that.Hugs!

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    1. Thank you Casey, I'm sorry to hear about your Ollie, I don't think we ever stop missing them.

      Hugs back at you :)

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  5. I'm so sorry about your baby. I am going through the same right now. My baby is 17 and we were told by the vet that it won't be much longer. So we are spending the weekend around her. In my WIP my character is a single mother who just found out her 3 year old is dying of leukemia. She deals with a lot of anger and grief.
    Thanks for sharing your loss
    Lynda

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    1. Thank you Lynda, give your baby a big hug for me. I knew this was coming, but you just can't be ready no matter how ready you are. Just have to love everything about them while they're here, and remember them while they are gone.

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  6. Sometimes it seems far easier to grieve for our pets than for the beloved humans in our lives. After forty years with dogs, their losses have not gotten any easier. We just keep on keeping on. We're of an age now where we lose those close to us. The best advice I ever heard is to love those who will allow it and forgive the rest

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    1. Thank you for coming by Monica. If they could just give all the fur babies longer lives. I like that advice too- thanks.

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  7. I'm so sorry for your loss. I have a 17 year old cat who has given me scares several times in the past 12 months, and I know it's only a matter of time. But since she's an indoor/outdoor cat, I know from hearing statistics from others that I'm so blessed to have her this long. You're exactly right in that it's like grieving for a dear friend or family member--because our animals are both! Take care and know others are thinking of you this day.

    Joanie

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    1. Thank you Joanie. Hugs to you and your cat, it's so hard, we're blessed to have them so long, but we live in dread of 'that day'.

      Thank you for you comments.

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  8. Marie,

    I am so sorry about your sweet cat. We lost our 14 year old Lab, Hannah, and could barely speak about her, we were so distraught. Like you, she'd gone through so many big life changes and events with us. There is nothing more comforting than hugging your furry friend until the tears finally stop. It's a wonder our poor dog didn't drown!

    Take care.

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    1. Thank you Christy :). Everyone grieves differently and for some talking makes it worse, for others of us it helps us move on. Growl's impact on my life will last far longer than her own life- and I'm sure the same is with your beloved Hannah :). And I agree about the hugging, we have a second cat who has been very confused over the last few days, but does know his friend (Growl never liked him, but he liked her ;))is gone, and his people just keep hugging the heck out of him.

      Thank you for your kind thoughts- and hugs on the loss of Hannah.

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  9. SO sorry about your kitty Marie! *HUGS*

    I think it's wonderful to talk about them because their spirit stays live in your heart... And I really think they're with you whenever they're in your thoughts...

    *HUGS*

    Lisa

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  10. Thank you Lisa :) and thank you for coming by and commenting. The more I share stories about her, the more it helps my heart deal with the loss.

    Hugs back at you!

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