Reluctantly Writing About Death

Struggling to Put Personal Memories on the Page

Holly Lyn Walrath
Storymaker

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Image Courtesy Suzy Hazelwood

A year and a few months ago, my father died. Today, I signed a contract for a small poetry book on grief and dealing with my father’s death that is going to be translated into Italian and published in Italy. The world spins in weird ways, I guess.

Before my father died, I always looked on books about the death of a loved one in, I’ll admit, a pretty messed up and slightly dismissive way. I hated cancer memoirs, books that dived headfirst into the nitty-gritty details of death: bodies and hospitals and medicine and the grotesque humanity of grief. Also, there was a connotation with these books. When they were written by women about caring for loved ones, they often got lumped into women’s fiction, whereas a man writing about grief was somehow reinventing the wheel.

Part of the reason I don’t read these kinds of books is that hospitals freak me out. Oddly enough, my mother is a nurse and my spouse is a physical therapist, both have worked in intensive care units. This was a blessing and a curse for my mother, who got to care for my father in his final years.

But since my father died, I’ve had a hard time writing poetry. Poetry has always been a safe place for me to deal with my own personal demons. I’ve spun that out into writing…

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Holly Lyn Walrath
Storymaker

I'm a writer, editor, publisher, and poet. I write about writing. Find me online at www.hlwalrath.com or on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath!