I work in a profession that deals a lot with something that most people try to avoid: death.
Death is something that can’t be avoided. It happens to everyone at some time, whether it’s someone they love or their own. Each experience with death is something private and personal. As a nurse, I have the chance to watch patients and families as they go through it. It’s a chance to glimpse through the window of a person’s true personality, their true values and how they deal with something so tragic.
Honestly, I could spend pages and pages writing about different experiences I’ve had with death. People who’ve died ten minutes to midnight New Year’s Eve, families who plan the death of their parents years in advance, or even people who don’t believe that death is imminent. I’ve seen angry, inconsolable, relieved, and even happy. Each time, it feels new, yet the same at the same time.
But that’s not what I want to focus on.
Death isn’t necessarily always physical. As I’m working on the Blue WIP, I’m starting to realize that there’s always something that a character fears, and death can be one of the most effective. Right now, my character is afraid of the death of her career. This is something she’s dreamed of her entire life, and as she’s watching it crumble and slip away, she’s left to deal with the end of the one thing most important to her. Now that she’s left vulnerable, I can really delve into who she really is, to learn what she really values once her career dies.
That’s just one example of death in literature, but there can be so many other possibilities. Death of romance/relationships, death of beliefs, death of security. Loss defines us as humans and is one thing that we can all relate with. Whether or not I’ve experienced the same kind of loss, I can always understand what it’s like to deal with it.
So, right now, I’m working on throwing a bit more ‘death’ into my writing. I want the reader to glimpse through my characters’ windows, to see who they truly are when they lose the one thing most important to them. Who are they when they have to deal with grief and loss?