Returning to Writing Fiction After the Death of Someone Close by Tinthia Clemant
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Tinthia Clemant as she shares with us: “Returning to Writing Fiction After the Death of Someone Close.” Enjoy!
Yes, it’s a long title but, sadly, there’s no other way to convey what this blog post is about.
Death – A Loss that Cuts Deep
It’s been a little over three months since my sister lost her battle with ovarian cancer. November 23, 2019.
Having her taken from me has cut deep, deeper than the losses of my parents.
Please don’t think me callous; I loved my parents and their deaths were tough to get through, but, after working through my grief those many years ago, I truly believed I was prepared to deal with another death should one come my way.
However, nothing could have prepared me for the devastating blow I received when Dyan died.
That was her name; my sister — Dyan, named for the Greek goddess, Diana.
Believe me when I write my sister was as brave as the Goddess herself, along with being my best friend, my biggest fan for my writing, and my muse.
Depression – The Fourth and Most Debilitating Stage of Grief
In some ways it feels like years since I kissed Dyan goodbye.
Time stalled — frozen in a fog known as grief.
I was lost as to what was my reality, many days wandering aimlessly.
The month of December passed in a blur, leaving me little time for writing, or feeling sad. I was busy, busy, busy.
The death of a loved one has a tendency to do that.
There are all kinds of detailed chores that require attention. Clothes that once graced the most beautiful woman I knew needed folding; books, graceful fingers had once touched needed sorting.
Busy, busy, busy.
Then January came, as did a deep depression, and I embraced the darkness, slipping into my rabbit hole where the pieces of my soul lay scattered on the black earth.
Life could continue without me, my sister was gone, and I had no need to play in the light any longer.
I spent my time crying, sleeping, crying myself to sleep, eating ice cream, and sleeping.
I wanted my sister back and there wasn’t enough CBD in the Universe that could help me. As far as writing went… screw it — I had lost my muse.
Back in the Rabbit Hole
People told me to write. “It will help you get over your loss.”
Why must death be something we need to get over?
Yes, it’s painful to grieve but just because the person we loved is gone doesn’t mean our relationship with her, or him, ends?
Samuel’s writes that
“Although we have to come to terms with the fact of their death, the relationship with the person who has died – though radically altered – continues. We love them in absence, rather than presence.”
I worked through my grief, using Kübler-Ross’s stages and Dr. Samuel’s advice and thought I had achieved success. Heck, I had even written. (Yay, me.)
By the time February arrived I was ready to re-enter the world with my spectral sister by my side and a new found energy to once again be part of the human race.
Unfortunately, surgery loomed and a much needed left hip sent me tumbling back into my rabbit hole of depression. Twenty-nine more days of hiding in my house with depression as my companion as we rode a pain-killer-enhanced emotional roller coaster.
Write, Damn It!
March is now here and as I hobble around my yard, which, by the way, resembles a war zone thanks to all the leaves and sticks winter deposited on the lawn, I’m reminded that life continues, despite the chaos that gets thrown at it.
For you see, life goes on, even when we don’t want it to. Like the plants returning to the surface in my gardens, I will find a way to gather the words I need to write my stories. I will do this for my sister. And for myself.
Lessons Death Taught Me
These are the lessons the death of my sister taught me.
First and foremost, be gentle and kind to yourself because only you know what you need to feel better.
Next, don’t let others tell you how to grieve. If you want to cry into a bowl of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, do it! If you want to scream, do it! Grieve your way and damn anyone who tells you it’s wrong.
Third, grieve in your own timeline. Hit the stages of grief in any order you want and as many times as you want. There is no set amount of time we get to grieve when someone we loves dies. Take as long, or as little as you want. This is your journey.
Fourth, keep plenty of ice cream in your freezer.
And, lastly, trust that you’ll find your way back to whatever it is you need to do.
Hey, Dyan, I’m writing again!
Editor’s note: I am glad you’re writing again, too, Tinthia!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author of The Summer of Annah series, Tinthia Clemant lives in a secluded spot on the Concord River in Massachusetts. Her companions include a black Labrador/Coonhound named Harlee; Shadow, an elderly black cat who still rocks at catching mice that have wandered into the house; a few hundred wild Mallards; assorted turtles, songbirds, snakes; and hawks, two Great Blue herons, and an American bald eagle.
Besides writing, she enjoys baking, gardening, reading (of course), painting and photography, laughing, and movies (the more explosions the better). Tinthia is an ice cream aficionado and insists that Ben and Jerry are the most perfect men ever created. She inherited my father’s temper and her mother’s view on life: It’s meant to be lived, embraced, savored, inhaled, and not given back until every last drop of wonder is claimed. If you visit Tinthia, make sure you bring a bottle of bourbon and, of course, ice cream. Her favorite flavor is Chunky Monkey.