As I mentioned in my last entry, we’re losing a family member. We did lose him over the weekend.

Grief is…typically, it’s atypical. I don’t know how often on the anencephaly support group I told moms, “There’s no right and wrong way to grieve,” and I know that’s true. But our own idiosyncratic methods of grieving always strike me as a kind of house-keeping in our souls.

On Saturday, I kept thinking of my daughter Emily. Not with that piercing loss but rather I wanted “her” near me. There’s not many ways of doing that with us living so far from the town where she’s buried, but I found myself wearing my sweater with the brand name Emily Rose (don’t ask me how I found that — I think God dropped it into my lap about three months after Emily died) and my mother-baby necklace that someone gave me when she was born.

And I’ve been thinking of my grandmother too, how I miss her sometimes when I don’t expect to, how she influenced me without me ever realizing it at the time, nor maybe her either.

And most strangely, I’ve needed to write. I returned to my novel-in-progress (working in the subplot, which now fits so snugly that I can’t imagine the book without it) and a short story I’ve had languishing here for about a year.

Why? Because I can’t end it.

This is a gorgeous story, only I cannot figure out how to write the final three lines to end the thing. I’ve posted it to a critique group and gotten a couple of beta readers, and I’ve either gotten no suggestions or else suggestions that don’t quite fit what I want it to accomplish. In the words of one beta, “It’s not bad,” but I keep feeling it needs to be perfect. The ending needs to encapsulate the whole story.

How Writers Grieve: The Stupid Edition. (That should have been my post title, huh?)

So in the middle of figuring out the logistics of attending the wake and the funeral, I’ve found myself mentally rewriting the final subscene of a 3000-word story over and over again, looking for the magical gesture that will perfectly end it all.

We don’t get that kind of option for our own deaths, of course, although I guess Christians believe we’re heading in to the ultimate Critique Session.

God: “Well, let’s look at this scene here.”
Me: “Oh, you know? Let’s just edit out that one!”
God: “It doesn’t work that way.”
Me: “Crud.”

Back to my story: is grief-by-edit healthy? I have no idea. The only thing I can say for sure it it’s mental housekeeping, looking at the ends of things and trying to make them fulfill their beginnings.


  1. cricketB

    Which work I do each day (and even whether) is often triggered by the strangest things. Some things sit on the list taunting me for months, then suddenly I feel like doing them and have no clue why — I’m just grateful to get them off my list.

    “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if God knows more than we do about how the schedule should be organized.

  2. Ana

    My sympathies to you and your family.

    No, I dont think you can edit grief… we are all stories, and we grieve one way or another, whether we like it or not. Comes with the package of love, i guess.

  3. Ivy

    My sympathies.

    I think I grieve in the exact opposite way. When Dokuritsu died I cast on like crazy. Socks, a sweater, a shawl…I think I have close to a dozen projects at various stages now, because I can’t deal with the end of anything when I’m grieving. I can only deal with death through new beginnings.