Sunday, February 22, 2009

Speaking to the Dead

By Karen E. Hoover

It’s been six months since my mom passed away—six months of trying to figure out who I am and what I wanted to do with my life. I questioned everything. I wondered if I held my beliefs because of her. I wondered if I kept my hair the way I did for her. I even wondered if I had wanted to write because of her. It was a tough time for me. I felt completely lost and alone, set adrift in a sea of pain with no refuge in sight.

Desperate, I finally sought help for the depression that sucked the very life out of me and found my answer in the place I last expected to find it. My counselor told me to keep my relationship alive with my mother by writing letters to her.

I fought the suggestion for about a week before I finally got low enough to put it to the test. I sat one night after four in the morning, unable to sleep for the memories that circled through my mind, and finally poured out my soul on paper. I told her what I missed. I told her my regrets. I even told her I was a little angry with her and God for taking her home when I wasn’t ready. I spewed it all out on the page and when I was done I sat back and read it.

It was a thing of beauty. This purging, this vomit I had thrown onto the page to find some peace had done its job. The cleansing had begun. From that day forward the gnawing pain that had dragged me to the depths disappeared and in its place came a sense of understanding and acceptance. I couldn’t be happy she was gone, but finally understood that I could go on. I could still live even without her wisdom and support.

Writing, communicating with a dead woman through the written word brought me closer to her and helped me to understand myself for what I truly am.

I am a writer.


Stephanie Black said...

Karen, I'm so sorry about the loss of your mother. Thank you for sharing this beautiful blog about the power writing has to soothe our hearts.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Thank you for sharing this, Karen. You are a writer, make no mistake about it. And you can use your talents to overcome your grief and make it a strength in your life.

Nichole Giles said...

During my writing journey, I've discovered that sometimes writing is the baring of a soul, as well as a way to spend time with people we no longer get to see in person.

It's far more than therapy for some of us. Including you.

As I've said before, it is from the hardest of emotions that our best writing can be produced. Published or private.

I'm glad you're overcoming this loss. Thanks for sharing.


Darvell Hunt said...

So writers are soul flashers?

When I put my deepest fears and feelings into my writing, I feel a bit naked when people read it. My soul becomes exposed and others can see who I really am. It can be scary, but also deeply rewarding.

"Oh no, your soul is showing!"

Karen Hoover said...

Stephanie-Thank you. Writing truly has calmed the savage beast of grief in this case.

Tristi-Thanks, my friend. I am finding so much that you are right.

Nichole-I agree. I genuinely find my best writing comes when I have to open the creaky door to my soul and dredge it from the depths.

Darvell-LOL! Yes, I am a soul flasher. I totally get what you're saying. It makes me feel naked too, but you've got to get naked to take a shower and that's what this kind of writing does for me. It's cleansing.

Pink Ink said...

Beautiful Karen. I think your letters are so powerful. For your healing, and also to give us insight into you as a writer and your wonderful relationship with your mother :-).

Karlene said...

That was lovely. And I know how healing writing can be. I quit writing once (years ago) and ended up weighing 300 pounds. When I started writing again, I lost weight. I write nearly every day now and it helps keep me sane and balanced.

LexiconLuvr said...

This is a profound and beautiful post. I feel privileged to have read it. There were so many personal truths in it for me. I'm happy for you that you've found a measure of peace in writing these letters. You've just given me a measure of peace in having read this. Thank you.

L.T. Elliot

Ronda Hinrichsen said...

Very, very well written, Karen. So many thoughts resurfaced for me and the loss of my mother-in-law to a rapid moving, devastating cancer a few years ago as I read your post. Thank you for sharing how you've been able to begin to heal. It's a post, I believe, that will bless many.
Oh, and I love Darvell's comment about being a soul flasher. I recently wrote an article for ldsneighborhood--it hasn't come out yet--but when I think of it, the more I fear I did exactly that: flashed too much of my soul. But then, isn't that how we communicate?

Heidi Ashworth said...

Love this!

Karen Hoover said...

Thank you, all of you. I never expected this kind of a response. You guys are awesome. :D

Cathy Witbeck said...

How blessed we are that we have a way that we can use to help us recover from grief and explore our emotions. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Rachelle said...

This is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey through grief with us. I hope you will continue to remember your mom and find happiness in the memories.

Hazel said...

Wow, Karen! This was awesome. I lost my own precious mom almost two years ago and it is still so painful sometimes I can't stop the tears. You really touched my heart. I wrote about my mom and my dad in my journal and it felt so good, but a letter directly to them would be wonderful. Think I'll try it.