The Guardian has a piece on British actress Natascha McElhone and her new book After you, a collection of her journal entries about the sudden death of her husband two years ago.
This particular bit caught our attention:
She started writing to Kelly almost immediately, as a release and an effort to contain her grief out of sight of her children; Theo, the eldest at eight, had asked her not to cry in front of him. The early entries are full of the derangements of a mind in shock; one of the first things that crossed her mind after hearing the news was a hope that the windows in their London home were shut, so that nothing of Kelly’s spirit could escape. Later, when she returned home, there was, she writes, such a palpable sense of him – the shirt on the door; the lingering smell – that “there is a period of time where I think, someone is still buzzing; there is a reverberation of them around you that you clasp, latch on to, in the hope that it will materialise into something more than a vibration. And of course it never does. There’s that hope. It’s very irrational. And you know it is. But it still gives a sense of comfort or relief.” These are things she could record only in the knowledge that she was “writing to someone who’s not around and you’re not going to get a response”.
Interestingly, McElhone’s oldest son also took to writing, creating a poem about his father and Rex, his baby brother. It helped end a particular cycle in their grief:
McElhone’s eldest son wrote a poem “about Martin’s soul flying out of one window and coming through another into Rex’s”. She has tried to mimic their childish ability to live in the moment. “If there’s anything good [that's come out of it] I think it’s that I don’t have any expectations. I had quite a lot, when I was younger. Living with very limited expectations is a much more immediate way of living.
Writing is not only cathartic, but it creates a tangible artifact of our feelings. Something we can observe, outside of ourselves, and possibly manage. Reading about pain gives us perspective. Writing about it can heal us.