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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG January, 2017. Word Power

It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read other posts, click here.


The holiday cards hit hard this year.  The wife of a former boss, informing me of his passing.  Another card sharing news of a childhood friend’s terminal illness.  An annual holiday essay I look forward to, in which the writer informed me of his own battle with cancer.  As the mailman delivered those cards, I also prayed for an acquaintance whose daughter was on life support, waiting for an organ transplant. The week before Christmas, the operation occurred which felt like a holiday miracle until the young woman lost her battle two days later.

Her mother is a writer and throughout the last two years of their ordeal, she and her daughter kept a blog, posts that tunneled to the hearts of their readers— soul-searching words to paper to prayer.  Since her daughter’s death, she’s continued to write profoundly moving entries veering from the absolute bleed of her loss, to poignant celebrations of memory.  “I’m going to keep writing these posts for as long as I need to,” she wrote in one.
  
I swear to you, each time I read a post, I feel how they provide some ease. 
 
Not for the first time, I understand the therapeutic powers of writing.  When my father died suddenly, the only way I could process that first lightning-bolt pain was to spend hours writing a eulogy.  Later, and while nowhere near as devastating, writing cured me when an unexpected job elimination from the place I’d worked for most of my adult life left me untethered and swinging.  Even this past November, amid the dismal political roil, I found I could only stop crying after I sat down to etch my emotions onto a page.

In his annual piece, my Christmas essayist referred to a book called Writing as a Way of Healing, by Louise DeSalvo.  According to the card writer, the author concludes “It’s not only the act of writing that heals, it’s the memories...Medical staffs term it narrative medicine.”  To that end, the essayist is writing in his journal every day.  Writing to heal himself.

For my way of looking at it, writing either produces hard evidence of the goodness in life, or purges that which is not.  Either way, it provides release. 

I confess, I approach this new year with trepidation. I'm guessing a lot of us do. So far though, I've used the words that form in my mind to pray for those who are grieving.  In addition, I keep  reminding myself.  Life to brain to keyboard.  The words we write have the power to heal, too.


19 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liza - what a very good post ... yes we all experience times like this - yet your take on it and the thoughts you post make me sit up and think ... 'narrative medicine' does make sense ...

Thank you - we can write and not publish too - so it is here somewhere in these bits and bites hidden in a black box or similar ... for reference and memory ...

Have a peaceful 2017 year .. Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My heart goes out to that woman who continues to blog.
Writing is a way of expressing what won't come out any other way. It is good for the soul.
Sorry so much sad news arrived by Christmas card last year.

mshatch said...

I'm sorry you had so much bad news. Like you I am also facing 2017 with trepidation (good word, I tried to think of another but it's so appropriate). I have to keep reminding myself I can only do what I can do and one of them is writing. Let's hope 2017 is way more awesome than we think it will be.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

So sorry to hear about the rough end of last year, the trepidation of the new one.

Your words are lovely - "For my way of looking at it, writing either produces hard evidence of the goodness in life, or purges that which is not. Either way, it provides release." I hope they bring YOU some comfort.

Joanne said...

trepidation is such a good word and applies to 2017. Yet, as you found and can see - writing does help work through issues. I also find that editing can calm the initial words, offer other perspectives, and generally smooths a path. It is sad when the Christmas card letters are about deaths and not births. All the best to you in this coming year - keep writing, taking pictures, and sharing when you want to - I love your work.

Patsy said...

It's true that writing can be therapeutic, both for the writer and often for those who read their words.

Jan Morrison said...

Writing through this - whatever this is - helps me more than almost anything. Sometimes it is hard to start but when we have our habit in place it seems more than enough. I still haven't managed to write myself through my grief at what the November brought the world - but it is happening.

Always love your wise words and always find them inspiring and healing.

cleemckenzie said...

We're all approaching 2017 with tiny, tentative steps--at least I am. I just hope it doesn't fly by like 2016 did and leave me wondering how that happened.

Nick Wilford said...

Writing helps to deal with everything. So sorry to hear about your friend but glad she continues to post. Let's all hope 2017 is a bit more gentle all round!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Liza, the words do have power to heal. And my words and prayers are with you and your loved ones at the beginning of 2017. I like your blog and have followed it. Be strong for yourself and for others. All the best to you!

Connie said...

I'm so sorry you received so much sad news at Christmastime. It seems all the sadder in contrast to all the merriment of the holiday. Writing can definitely be therapeutic. Sometimes it helps us make sense of things that we are unable to comprehend in any other way. Wishing you all the best in the new year!

Erika said...

I am definitely sending lots of healing prayers and thoughts to you and those who you've mentioned have lost. Blogging is very healing. Especially when those who read and comment back share their stories and heart aches too. I wish you many dreams come true this year. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I certainly believe words are therapeutic. In writing my series, I think each character helped part of my soul heal.

Jessica Therrien said...

I totally agree with you! I love that..."life to brain to keyboard." May 2017 be a better year!
Nice to meet you :)

Jess
www.jessicatherrien.com

Tanya Miranda said...

Sorry for you to have received such sad news during the holidays. I think things like this happen to remind us of how precious life is. All material things are a waste of time. Moments, memories, being kind to one another... these are the important aspects of life.

When my mother-in-law passed a few years ago, I wrote poetry that reflected some of my emotions. I even wrote a piece dedicated to her. Poetry was all I could write. I couldn't write fiction or anything in my journal - it felt wrong, unfair and selfish. I only allowed myself poetry. I can only assume I was dealing with a load of survivor's guilt and punishing myself for it.

I hope your 2017 ends on a brighter note. :-D

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Wow, I'm sorry to hear about all the bad news you received over the holidays, especially about the girl who didn't survive her transplant. These things are heartbreaking any time of year, but any loss like that seems to be magnified when it occurs around a holiday, and then it continues to taint that holiday for many years to come. That girl's mother is a brave woman. My heart goes out to her.

You're right. Writing is therapeutic. It helps us purge toxic feelings, and clarify our thoughts. Didn't work for me in November, though. I was paralyzed when it came to writing, and I know a lot of other writers who experienced the same thing. I'm glad the words continued to flow for you.

Happy New year!!!

Lynda R Young said...

2017 will be a hard year for many of us. Writing and reading is a gift, and if they get us through those difficult times then they're a blessing too.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

I hope you and yours had a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and are having a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. May we display your header on our new site directory? As it is now, the site title (linked back to its home page) is listed, and we think displaying the header will attract more attention. In any event, we hope you will come by and see what is going on at SiteHoundSniffs.com.

Tyrean Martinson said...

This is so true. Words written equal healing. Thank you for the reminder.