There’s Plenty of Grief to Spread Around

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, trying to find a new way and new reason to write now that my life has been turned upside down. I never liked wasting my writing — I liked to think that whatever scene I wrote had a place in the story. Writing comes hard for me (even when I’m playing the quantity game rather than the quality one) so writing for writing’s sake was never on my agenda.

This month, though, is all about the words, so it doesn’t matter whether the scene works or not. It doesn’t even matter if I scrap most of the book. It’s important just to write something so that when it comes time to put the story together, I will have bits and pieces to work with.

I always knew the mother and daughter in my story didn’t get along. The mother needs someone who will argue with her, someone who has no sympathy for her grief. I’ve been assuming that the daughter found out about her mother’s cyber affair and accused the mother of being a hypocrite, and that is how I wrote the scene. Now I know that when it comes to grief, there’s enough strife to spread around, so I could probably leave the daughter in the dark about the affair.

Real mothers and daughters (not just storybook mothers and daughters) don’t see eye to eye when it comes to grief. Daughters often feel as if their mothers are carrying on too much, since grown children may come to terms with their loss easier than spouses do. Grown daughters often feel as if they’ve lost both parents when the mother becomes steeped in sorrow. Sometimes the conflict goes the other way, with the mother feeling estranged from the daughter especially if the daugher did not visit the sick father very often. (Not everyone can handle seeing a person dying slowly and in great agony and would prefer to remember the person as healthy and vital.) 

Grief should bring families together, but often it tears them apart. All that anger surfacing. The denial. The recriminations and guilt. Not everyone goes through the stages of grief in the same order. Nor do they go through them at the same time or with the same intensity.

With so much emotion to deal with, it does seem as if the daughter doesn’t need to know about the affair. In fact, I’d just as soon she didn’t come to visit her father while he was dying, at least not toward the end. A friend of the mother’s stopped calling too, which left her to deal with her dying husband without much of a support group. Which is why she had to find it online. Which is where she found her cyberlover.

If the daughter doesn’t know, though, I’m not sure how the mother will explain to the daughter why she’s taking off to meet the guy, but maybe the estrangement between the mother and daughter is such that no explanation is necessary. I’ll guess I’ll have to wait to see what happens when I finish the book.

2 Responses to “There’s Plenty of Grief to Spread Around”

  1. itsahappyblog Says:

    Hmm. My father was sick for years. I was a teen living at hime. I ‘lost’ my father when he died two months after my 19th birthday. My mother was ‘loosing’ him for the last five years of his life. I share this to say that when she re-married 7 months later I first reacted by recognizing her prolonged goodbye. But then I went through my feelings that it was all too soon. 20 years have passed and I am married myself now. She is still happily married to my loving step dad and I know her life moved as it did just because. No right or wrong. Although there was no affair to work out in our case. I look forward to seeing where your characters are when the book is finished.

  2. Carol Ann Hoel Says:

    Interesting observations, Pat. When my divorce happened, which upset me terribly, my two grown children simply told me it was the best thing that could have happened to me. My grief was my own. On the courthouse steps my then recent ex-spouse apologized. Remembering my children’s attitude, I told him to forget about it because it was probably the nicest thing he’d ever done for me. Ha! I know. That wan’t nice of me, was it? Rrrrr! It probably reminded him of why he left me. Blessings to you…


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