Loss hurts. Goodbyes hurt. Grief … hurts.
It’s so easy, so tempting, to just lie down and avoid the world when you’re hurting. Well, maybe keeping your head down for a little while is OK. Healthy, even.
But eventually you have to get back up. Right?
The thing to know about grief is that it affects everyone differently. There is no predictable path from one end of the journey to the other. This isn’t a linear progression. Some people get sad for a little while and then move on. Some get angry and stay angry for a very long time.
It is the nature of humanity, to struggle through loss. It’s the reason none of us are meant to be alone for long stretches of time. We need each other. We need a place to pour out our pain and receive love and grace.
But there’s more than one way to grieve. Talking helps. Writing helps, too. Or it might, if you try it.
I don’t know about you. But when I’m hurting, writing is sometimes the only thing that helps.
Sure, there are always stretches of time when I’m not in the right place mentally or emotionally to write, and that’s OK. Sometimes Life Happens and you have to break away from your normal routine in order to conserve the energy you need for handling it.
But I almost never feel better about something that hurts until I’ve written about it in some way. Is talking to real people important? Of course. However, I’m a writer. Sometimes I can’t word something quite the right way out loud, but on paper, I somehow figure out exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it.
The best part about writing when you’re angry or happy or annoyed or sad is that there are no rules. You can do whatever you want, write whatever you want, say whatever you want. If I feel like writing a song, I write a song, and if that’s what helps to heal my heart little by little, I’ll keep doing it. If I want to work on my book to distract myself for a day, I’m free to do that. If I want to write a blog post about how writing connects to the grieving process, no one is going to stop me from publishing it.
When your life feels out of control and you’re not sure how much more chaos you can handle, you are always in control of your creative energy. You are always free to decide how you want to use it, and how you want to allow it to help you feel like everything is going to be OK, even if it isn’t.
That, my friends, is why I write. I write because it is my foundation. It keeps me grounded and it keeps me sane. When everything else around me is spinning out of control and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about it, I start writing. And even if that doesn’t actually solve any of my problems, even if it serves as a temporary escape, it is always what I need. I can always count on my creativity, my drive to Make Words Happen, to be there when I need it most.
I hope your creative projects and that headspace provide the same comfort and stability for you as they do for me. Life is unpredictable and you never know when you’re going to turn around and walk headfirst into a brick wall. You can’t expect it to happen, but you can always have something to turn to when it does.
Maybe for you that’s a person. An activity (a healthy one, I hope). A place. A song. A keyboard and a blank document or a pen and a blank page. As long as there’s something. As long as you have some way of keeping yourself in check when everything goes wrong.
Life keeps moving forward. There are always new stories to tell. New revelations to be had. There will always be hellos and goodbyes, good endings and bad ones, finished products and abandoned ideas.
But there is always something to learn. Some way to grow. Some opportunity to change, hopefully for the better.
Write your way through it, if you can. Maybe it won’t help at all. But maybe … maybe it will. In time.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.