Therapy, the Search for Meaning, and Other Reasons to Write

Monday nights are my Busy Nights. Balance the books, do the laundry, update the website, etc. So last Monday when I got The Dreaded Phone Call about an elderly person in my life and had to deal with life and death decisions, it threw me off my game, thus my late post last week. I’m still dealing with that whirlwind, but more than one of my writer friends have advised me to write about my grief.

Believe me, I will.

I know many people who deal with Life’s hurdles in silence. They don’t reach out to others for support or, gods forbid, assistance. That ain’t me. I try not to do it a lot, but my trusted support network is phenomenal. (You know who you are.) When I talk to a friend about a worry or a concern, it’s like I’m talking to myself as well, feeling my way through the issue toward some sort of resolution.

It’s the same when I write. I’ve mentioned before that my spirituality and my quest for meaning often shows up in my stories. So does my grief for lost loved ones, or questions on ethical and moral dilemmas, or attempts to determine where I stand on social issues. If I can put a character into a similar situation, their process of navigating the problem helps me see solutions I might have missed otherwise.

Maybe that’s why I am so interested in writing a trans character, or one from a country I know little about, or one from an impoverished setting. I strive to live in a loving, compassionate way, and to extend those courtesies to the people around me. It pains me when I find I have done or said something hurtful to another, so I seek to understand life experiences that differ from my own, in an effort to avoid that risk. Writing about them in a respectful way requires me to learn as much as I can about the characters, and thus understanding grows. Right?

My loss is still too fresh to be a story yet, but it’s waiting its turn. Already I feel the pieces of it floating in my head and my heart, and when they find the best combination and the most effective setting, the story will almost write itself. I can wait. The end of a human life brings much busywork for those who are left behind, tasks that offer at the same time a welcome distraction from the grief and a daily reminder of the loss. I undertake it because I must, but I am making mental notes. For the story that will come.

4 thoughts on “Therapy, the Search for Meaning, and Other Reasons to Write”

  1. Reynolds Price wrote:
    “A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens-second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives.”

    We are “meaning makers,” we human beings, and we tell stories to make sense of things.

    Thank you for another provocative blog post.

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