Friday, December 13, 2013

How Characters Deal With Loss

I’ve been rolling the idea of death around in my head for a bit. There’s fighting and death in my book and at one particular part; I’m sitting there, thinking “How should this person react to this?” I know how I’d react. But I know my reaction wouldn’t be like my characters’. Then I started to really think about it, and I realized:

Everyone deals with loss differently. 

I recalled a post by Holly Black a while ago on Tumblr. I remember reading it and thinking “Yes. This is exactly right.”  (Link: ) She basically summed it up perfectly. I loved this quote in particular “We were crazy with grief; we were wild with it.”

Everyone is different. Everyone deals with grief differently. My grandma broke down and clung to a toilet in the funeral parlor’s bathroom at my uncle’s wake. My mother’s friends had a pork roast party for my mother’s wake. And for my grandmother’s wake. I didn’t cry until I felt GUILTY enough to do so. So guilty that it hurt. Why hadn’t I cried before? I don’t know. I could have been numb, or just so used to death that I was over it. I thought “How heartless could I be to have dry eyes at the wake of the person who had raised me my entire life?”

Obviously I can’t use myself as an example for my grief stricken character. She’s not used to death and loss. She’s sheltered. So I have to think of it from her point of view and really get into her mind set. 

I think this is harder than getting into their head to make a decision. When grief and despair come into play, people change and can do things you’d never think they’d do.  

Just something to think about, I guess. Does your character have to deal with loss? If so, how did you figure out how they dealt with it?


  1. I really appreciate this post and find it perfectly said. Sometimes I get a little defensive when I see someone going off on how a character handled her grief when the truth is, everyone really does handle it differently. Acting out or withdrawing into themselves are just a couple ways. There is no dictating how someone is 'supposed' to handle it. :)

    1. Yes yes exactly! Thank you for reading and agreeing! :)

  2. I love this post since I really love moving character deaths and am particularly moved by another character's reaction to the death. It really makes you connect with a character when you share in their grief and too often the "tough" main characters just don't really react at all which is kind of a missed opportunity!

    1. Yes! The reaction is the most important part, I think. Along with the set up. But when it just happens randomly with no foreshadowing or set up, and no one reacts, it just seems like a waste :<