Writing About Grief? Don’t Forget the Box of Tissues

I have been writing about grief for my upcoming book, Six Healing Questions: A Gentle Path to Facing Childhood Loss of a Parent. During the process, I wrote heartfelt stories about the early loss of my parents and the grieving or lack of grieving that followed. My motivation for including personal stories is to help others who have experienced similar early loss.

Why Cry Over Spilled Milk?

During writing class, I have told these stories out loud numerous times without a tear. Yet, to my surprise, writing these vignettes continued to break my heart. When I described the last time I saw my mother alive, I cried as if it had happened recently. One side of me welcomed this as cathartic. Another voice in my head was appalled. Can I still be crying over what happened so many years ago? My answer to my chagrined self was, “I guess so.” The hackneyed phrase, “why cry over spilled milk,” kept intruding in my psyche.

Writing with Tissues in Hand

I kept writing and kept my box of tissues close. What I learned was it got easier. I also learned that my inner child still needed tenderness. I imagined her sweet eyes looking up at me and accepting my love. After all the personal work I had done, it became clear that my child still needed care.

It Gets Easier

It is getting easier to share the stories without tears. I am more accepting of feeling the occasional emotional tug and not afraid of shedding a tear. Never being a crier, this has been a challenge. I now find that crying is good for me, and I plan to do as much as needed going forward. Not crying is a hard habit to break. I may need a bigger supply of tissues. I study my tissue box with blue and white stars and think of how cute it is.

For us non-criers in the world, I think we really are criers. Something has stopped us. The same person who told us not to cry over spilled milk likely told us other things to shut us up or maybe to help us move on. Who knows? They were wrong. Damn! I’m getting over this and plan to cry when I want to. Hoping you will join me in protest and cry too.

2 comments on “Writing About Grief? Don’t Forget the Box of Tissues

  1. Loved this post with message of tenderness toward wounded child within. Liked acceptance of crying as good growth step for those who felt safer not crying in the past. Thanks, Madonna!

  2. Such a wonderful post. Madonna, this is beautiful. I agree and I too write with tissues on my computer desk, handy and needed often. I have been writing and telling my story for two years, and had thought I had cried myself out by now. Still sometimes, usually when I least expect it, I read my 2nd draft and tears flow freely down my cheeks. I have learned to let them flow as they are for the seventeen year old girl who was me and I am finally telling her story.

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