Grief can impact different people in a mixture of ways. Some will be unable to hide their emotions, allowing them to bubble at the surface. Such emotional turmoil can manifest in varied ways too; sobbing inconsolably can lead to guilt and then anger, which can be seen in the fervid desire for action in whatever circumstances they may have control over outside the death of their loved one.
Others may do their best to conceal their desperation only to have it show in the furrow of a brow, clench of a jaw, or downcast gaze. Each thought they have – hopeful or distraught – is hidden away deep beneath, but with an indication of it in each expression, like a wrapped present with a corner torn away.
Still, there are those that lie in between, able to contain their anguish in an appropriate manner and take it home with them. Only then may they break down, in solitude, no one to watch or judge or comfort. They are perhaps the people who know that such times are not to be centered upon their particular sorrow, but that focus should be instead on the one who has suffered their final moments and will never again be given the chance to cry, or speak, or love.
Then there are those who are stoic and seemingly uncaring, who do not shed a tear or break down, who cannot sit by a bedside or stop going about their daily lives. These are those who are unfairly judged, I think, as they do not react the way we ourselves would behave. The world for them is more black and white, they see situations where they can do nothing and choose instead to make use of their time in alternative ways. They appear to cope remarkable well, and are able to continue as if nothing at all may have changed. But, by and by, when the truth settles within them, when they have accepted the circumstances and have inwardly grieved, they will share their process with those closest and reveal their heart.
To take away something from this scenario, to even consider making the experience some use, I ask those of us that are writers; how would your characters grieve? Which of these, if any, would be their response to losing a loved one?
Do we even know our own character when it comes down to that particular heartache? Could you predict yours without having ever faced the loss of the one who brought you into this world?