How to Write About Grief and Loss
by Emily Thiroux Threatt
Author of “Living and Loving Your Way Through Grief”
Books and articles are being written at a faster rate than ever before. I am sure this is in part because of the pandemic. This increase also comes from more people seeking help to deal with their grief. Grief used to be something we experienced silently, not sharing thoughts or feelings with others, but now with many people seeking comfort, they are wanting to know if other people are having the same feelings they do, and they want to know what can help them feel better to help them emerge from their pain.
By working with people who are dealing with grief, I have found some common issues to consider when you want to write something about grief.
- Grievers want to know that who is writing about grief has experienced or is experiencing grief. The readers who are seeking something to read about grief want to know that the writer relates to grief in a way they can relate to. You can do this by writing from the perspective of someone speaking to directly to the one person who is reading what you say at that moment.
- As self-publishing has become easier to do and having a traditional publisher isn’t as essential as it used to be, lots of memoirs about the death of a loved one or grieving a loved one are showing up. If you are choosing to write a memoire in this area, be sure to have a great hook. What makes your story different and appealing? Why would someone choose to read your story as opposed to all the other memoirs out there?
- I have found the people who are grieving are wanting guidance. Instead of just reading a story, they want suggestions on what they can actively do to deal with their grief. They want to know that there are people they can share their experiences with. Grief can be a lonely place.
- Find a way to include the stories of other people who are grieving so that if the reader can’t relate specifically to you, they can relate to the experience of someone you include in the book. For instance, if you are writing about your experience of having a daughter who died, you may want to include the experience of a daughter who had a mother who died.
- Another approach is to write about is a specific kind of grief. I have been hearing from many people who are dealing with suicide, especially the suicide of a child. This is a niche that could be filled if someone actually has a way to comfort people who are dealing with this kind of loss. The intensity of this kind of loss seems to last a long time, so things that could help over time would be much appreciated.
- Grief has surged with the surges of the pandemic. This is a different kind of grief than we are used to. People are tending to look for someone or something to blame from the people who won’t wear masks, to the people who don’t get vaccinated, to the hospitals that are over filled, to the politicians who they feel didn’t do enough or don’t things fast enough. While blame seems inevitable, when you write about grief and the pandemic, it is better to focus on the people who are grieving than on the people who may be causing the grief. Give them the same love and solace as any other person grieving, and look at their situation independently instead of lumping together all the people affected by the pandemic. Their individual loss is what they are focusing on and they will appreciate you focusing on them, too.
Grief can be a tricky subject to write on. What I have seen in the reactions to all the writing I have been doing shows me that when I focus on providing support, comfort, and love in what I write as well as showing my readers how they can find happiness while they are dealing with grief, they are grateful that you care enough to lighten their burdens some and give them something positive to think about. Just show them that you care.
Emily Thiroux Threatt is the author of Loving and Living Your Way Through Grief: A Comprehensive Guide to Reclaiming and Cultivating Joy and Carrying on in the Face of Loss, winner of the Bookauthority Best New Grief Book and the Silver Medal for the Living Now Book Awards.
Emily has much experience in the grieving process and has learned to face life with love, optimism, and joy. Her mission is to comfort and support those dealing with grief and loss focusing on happiness.