researching the bereft
It's late and I'm tired and battling a cold, so if my attempts at making a coherent post come across like a garbled bunch of gobbledygook I do apologize. But I was wondering if some of you might have some input as far as solutions to the quandry below:
My story's main character has recently sustained a serious loss, that of her husband in a workplace shooting. It is not long after this that she discovers, prior to his death, that they conceived a child. So this compounds the loss, and adds so many other dimensions to it, as well. As you can imagine. I want to be properly depict her struggles and feelings in that regard without beating the proverbial dead horse and giving any readers the desire to grab the nearest shotgun and put her (my character) out of her misery. And, consequently, theirs. I've been told by other readers of my stuff in the past that I can go on and on and on ad nauseum, perhaps to the point that hardened pacifists become believers in that 2nd amendment (hahaha!).
Also, if any of you can recommend any resources for "getting inside the head" of someone who has lost a loved one -- specifically, a spouse -- to violent crime, especially someone who may have been with child at the time of the event, please let me know what they may be. Online or otherwise, I am all eyes.
Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I've talked with people who've lost a loved one suddenly like that. The closest I can come to describing it is to say that it is not unlike losing a limb suddenly. The person is shocked, they can see the terrible damage done, the blood spurting, but they feel no pain. It happens so quickly there is simply no time for the pain to register, and the rarity of an ordeal like that adds a surrealness that literally prevents the person from believing it happened at all, at least temporarily.
So I think for a day or two, a flatness or numbness might best describe the character's mental state. For the rest, it depends on what kind of person your character is. Myself, I tend to function very well during times of crisis, then fall apart later. If your character is like that, then she'd busy herself with funeral and wake preparations, pick a plot and headstone, square the life insurance...you know - almost a frenetic activity to try to convince herself that she has some kind of control over her life that has just spun out of control. After a two or three weeks of that, the grief hits, triggered by some inconsequential nothing. Maybe she sees mushrooms at the grocery which were a favorite of his, something like that, and it just crushes her.
I think a scenario like that is not uncommon, and it would mitigate the misery, at least at first. She could be miserable for a while, maybe even flat on her back in bed from the depression, but then you could have a strong friend help her and counter-balance the misery. She'd get her out of bed and take a walk with her, even if it's a slow one. She'd cook good meals for her and see that she eats them. But most importantly, she'd constantly remind her that she has another life to consider besides her own. She must pull herself together for the sake of her child. Nothing breaks up depression better than love, and a mother's love is perhaps the most potent in all the earth. I think that's what you use to pull her out of her misery as quickly as possible, along with the help of a good friend.
I think you should make the misery very short and general and the encouragement much longer and specific. That'll keep readers from feelings of homocide.
Funny, I have the same kind of m.o. in times of crisis too. You want me on your side when the proverbial clods of poo hit the fan. I will pick you up, get you moving, keep you going, bring about remedy/solution, act as a shock absorber. And then I collapse. Often over something little. But we all have our place in life, right.
I have some other ideas that I might like to bounce off of you, but in a pm only. If that's okay . . .
Well, provided my wi-fi didn't give me the slip, you should have one in your inbox now.