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Exercise Wednesday: I. Feel. Your. Pain.

August 21, 2013

When I ran Peggy Miller’s poetry prompt a while back, I went to Google to look for pictures about grief and found this one. The pain involved in this picture is profound. The woman in this picture is feeling pain so profound, she almost needs to physically protect herself against it by drawing into herself, by folding up, as if to try to fend it off.

There are some other details that might be relevant in writing about this picture. She appears to be wearing a nightgown of some sort. At first glance, without paying attention, I thought she was wearing jeans. She’s also a little older–at least in her thirties, maybe as old as her fifties. But she’s not wearing a ring on her left hand and there doesn’t appear to be a tan line.

She’s also alone at this point. There’s no one there with her to place and arm around her. There’s no one to hold or comfort her.

In a similar vein, the picture to the right goes against a lot of stereotypical thinking about men and grief. Instead of a man grieving alone, it’s a picture of three men standing together as friends, presumably not talking, as they face the ocean.

Sometimes the best way to help someone grieve is to just be there. Not to say anything, because after all, there are no words. Not to do anything, because no single action can restore the hurt. But to just be there.

The men are at the ocean and there’s no pretense. Nothing about this picture looks forced or artificial. It could be a type of togetherness resulting from one man’s grief, or maybe it’s a shared grief.

Your exercise today is to take any of the elements you see here–or none of them–and write about a character’s grief. You can pick the people in the pictures, or any other character(s) you want. But when you’re done, the reader should feel what the character felt, or at least be able to imagine it.

Time limit: 40 minutes


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