How writing through grief can ease the pain

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Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

I finished writing my first book last month.

It’s a very rough book in need of many more revisions, but I still wrote a book from beginning to end. I have always been more of a short story/poetry/creative non-fiction essay gal but like many writers, I’ve harbored the dream of writing a book since I first picked up a pen. This dream has always felt out of reach (i.e. how could I ever be a good enough writer to write a book?). To my (pleasant) surprise, I was finally able to hunker down and slam out a 250-page manuscript.

How was this possible?

Technically there are two reasons. The first: Coronavirus lockdown. I’d be lying if I said being shut inside for months hasn’t given me the time to devote to my writing. …


The sweet balm of words to soothe the pain.

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Grief is a universal experience.

It comes to different people in different ways but it shows up in the same dark clothing, screaming and wailing as it swoops down to pelt us with insufferable pain. Grief is powerful and icky, a goopy moaning thing that tastes like tears and snot and plants itself firmly in the chest or stomach where it creates a persistent ache. It is all-consuming and greedy — it pulls its victims into a bottomless pit and tries to convince them that they are alone. We fear grief as much as we fear death. Because it hurts. Oh, how it hurts.

We must all face grief at some point in our lives. Few people make it out of this world without a scar or two courtesy of grief. And yet, despite its universality, grieving is one of the loneliest experiences.


And other unhelpful sentiments directed toward the bereaved.

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Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that their friends, family, and acquaintances fall into one of three categories: they will either say nothing, say something, or say the wrong thing.

Death is one of the least talked-about topics in our western culture. Many people find themselves unsure of what to say to a person who has lost someone close. We tend to repeat the same trite things without examining whether or not they are helpful, keen on getting our condolences over and done with, and moving on.

Conversations about death are uncomfortable. They remind us of our mortality and the mortality of those we hold dear. We don’t want to think about loss and we definitely don’t want to talk about it. …


Please just let me respond to “How are you?” with “I’m good.”

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Everyone knows someone who insists on correcting every little grammar mistake they hear or see.

I have a friend who truly believes she is doing the world a favor when she corrects a stranger’s grammar or launches into a rant about every writer who dares to end a sentence with a preposition.

This is the type of friend you don’t want to catch you spelling “their” wrong if you mean “they’re” or “there,” or saying something is “very unique” (unique implies one of a kind — something cannot be more or less than one of a kind, explanation courtesy of my friend). …


Does one have to cancel out the other?

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Photo by mali desha on Unsplash

Imagine this: You are a childless woman in your late 20’s, married for less than a year, and dog mom to a seven-year-old Australian Cattle Dog named Bear. You and your spouse have discussed expanding your family with a couple of two-legged children at some point in the future, but at the moment, you are content with your family of three.

On a day like any other, you agree to meet a friend for coffee. You haven’t seen this friend in some time as she recently gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. You catch up and the conversation eventually shifts to your dogs, both adopted from the Humane Society as small puppies. …


Should writers avoid this literary device?

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

I recently decided my memoir was ready to find its place with a developmental editor. After months of revisions and more revisions, I arrived at a crossroads many writers are familiar with — I’ve edited until I can’t see straight but I’m not ready to pursue publishing: Where do I go from here? I decided I needed another pair of eyes. And not just the eyes of friends and family who, for as much as I love them, do not have the experience or the skills to say much more than, “I like it,” or, “I don’t like this part, but I can’t explain why.” …


Readers aren’t expected to like every book but these reviews cut deep.

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Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

I love reading memoir. Memoirists are brave individuals who launch their stories into the abyss in the hope of connecting with others. The best memoirs I’ve read draw me into the writer’s world and give me a new perspective on life. They inspire, commiserate, give meaning to life, and reinforce the human connection.

Following the death of my mother last year, I turned my attention to grief memoirs.

These writers soothed me with their stories and messages of “I’ve been there” and “I’ve made it through. You will too.” …


Seriously, four months.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Let me start off by saying that learning a foreign language is HARD and those attempting to do so will progress at their own pace. That being said, I’d like to share how, based on my personal experience, it is possible to become proficient in a foreign language in a short amount of time as long as you have the right combination of resources, a positive attitude, and steadfast determination to do so.

Throughout my language-learning journey, I have struggled, failed, and thought to myself countless times, Why am I still doing this? …


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Image by amurca from Pixabay

I have lived in Portugal for nearly three years now and am fairly settled into my life here. After reflecting on my move abroad and what I would do differently if I had to do it over again, I wanted to share some of the things I wish I knew before making the big move.

There were definitely things I didn’t even think about nor expect to experience and there was no way I could have predicted all the challenges and curve balls (even good ones!) that would be sent my way. …


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Photo by Juri Gianfrancesco on Unsplash

Learning a foreign language can be an incredibly rewarding experience — it challenges you to rewire your neural linguistic pathways, you gain a skill many people would be envious to have, you sharpen your memory and cognitive capacities, and you expand your perspective on the world around you, among many other benefits.

For many people, overcoming the obstacle between learning a language and actually using it can be difficult to do. After all, we use language to communicate with others, establish social connections, and pass on our collective knowledge and experiences. Language is an intricate part of who we are.

If you have gained the necessary skills to start practicing speaking with others in real-life situations, it’s normal to experience a bit of anxiety. This anxiety may come from the fear of appearing unintelligent or ignorant, the fear of messing up and not being able to communicate, or a lack of confidence in your skills. …

About

Isabel Cohen

Writer / Word lover / Teacher of small humans

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