Writing Grief

In 2009, at the age of nineteen, I wrote a series of interconnected short stories that focused on the ways in which each member of a family reacts to death and loss. The stories were specifically created for a writing scholarship that, in the end, I didn’t come close to winning. I was so devastated when the rejection letter arrived in the mail. I often say that, as a writer, I never fully recovered from it. Even though the stories were not particularly good, I realize now that they were one of my first attempts to translate the experience of grief into a literary form. They represented an omen, a foreshadowing of the future, because I now understand that grief is my subject, that I cannot let it go, and that every word I write is shadowed by loss.

The stories were lost years ago when my computer died. I had not backed them up. Maybe it’s best that they’ve disappeared. From what I can remember, there were four stories. One focused on a young girl, similar to me, whose father commits suicide. Another story focuses on the girl’s mother whose own mother has died. I wanted to explore women’s reactions to loss, that was of great importance to me. Also, what compelled me about these stories was the fact that people who are intimately connected can still hide their grief, that we don’t really know what another person is going through. The stories took place within the women’s consciousness and described their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, but the other characters had no inkling of what was going on inside their minds. I focused on quiet moments, moments of solitude in which the characters could be alone with their grief.

The stories were not that good and they didn’t get me the scholarship, but I don’t consider them a failure. As the years pass, I continue to write about grief over and over again. For all the words I’ve written, I haven’t come close to what needs to be said. I often feel so far away from the truth, like I’m circling around it, never touching it, doomed to never lay my hands on it. But I keep writing and writing and writing because I must, because this is my offering to the world, the only thing I can give, the only thing that will prove I was here.