We pulled off my dad’s surprise 65th birthday party last week which was great but it all went downhill from there. It came to a surprising, and upsetting head on Thursday when the family dog had to be put down. We knew it was coming because of his arthritis but when mom found him bleeding from the mouth and the vet found a stomach tumour, we knew it was time. No wonder he was a dog skeleton with fur. We were merely feeding the tumour (to borrow my aunt’s words). The focus was so on his pain and his hips that nobody even clued in. Of all people, I should have.
So we all battle the grief that comes with losing anyone near and dear to our hearts. We go through the regular motions of life and it feels like we’re in a bubble… only we know how we feel. To take those emotions outside the bubble is when you get funny looks. It’s just a dog most would say. No, it’s not just a dog, this guy has been with us for almost thirteen years. He is the dog my daughter grew up with! He would never have hurt a fly. He loved going to the trailer and on walks, my daughter walked him while (for the last six years anyway) my dad walked their pug-cross. She is having the hardest time with it, as she should. Give her space and time… like all of us, she will start to recall all the memories the human brain is capable of storing and she’ll once more be happy.
But life likes to throw us those curves. For us writers, sometimes it’s what our writing is based on. If we don’t write about that specifically, we find a way to insert our grief into our stories by giving our protagonist a similar situation to deal with. This makes write what you know valuable. We can’t lock ourselves into that because we have to grow but there’s no reason why we can’t use our own life experiences as the base.
Reach out, research and develop whatever you need to, but don’t forget some reality! Like J.K. Rowling took Sirius and then Hedwig from Harry. She created a reality most of us can relate to despite creating this magnificent world that doesn’t actually exist.
I know that think outside the box has become such a cliche but when it comes to writing, it is still an incredible piece of advice.
Think outside the box and write!