Coming to Terms: TW Writers on Grief


"Tappen's Beach" @ Mary Dineen 


The Boston Marathon bombings continue to reverberate, especially for those of us who live in the area. It will take many months, if not years, to reach a sense of closure. And yet, we survive. It's spring in New England. Migrant birds are returning; forsythia, magnolia, and daffodils are all in bloom.

Writers have their own ways of coming to terms with trauma and grief. Here, we've selected quotes from TW authors that illuminate the struggle to understand. These and other essays from past issues touch on the difficulties of putting loss into words—and the power of those words to heal — Martha Nichols and Elizabeth Langosy


“September 11: Why I Write” by Ken Hertz:

The act of writing itself seemed invested with new urgency. I questioned my prior writing goals: Would it even be okay to write about seemingly trivial subjects? Did the very fact of 9/11—starkly visible to me in the form of a still-smoldering hole in the city as I flew down the Hudson—now mean that every writing effort must be directed toward producing a work of larger importance?

“Teaching Writing When the Unimaginable Happens” by Lorraine Berry:

In discussing Columbine with these young people, who were close in age to my own children, all my arrogant certainty came crashing down. These kids could be our friends, my students said; this could be our school.


"Dark Sunburst" @ Mary Dineen 


"The Brambles of Life" by Li Min Mo:

When I write, I find shards of my father, bits and pieces of the villages of my past, and the mysteries hidden in the bones of those who gave their lives for their beliefs. I connect with my ancestors and give shape to my memories, dreams, and visions.

“Regarding the Golden Monster” by Wm. Anthony Connolly:

We are broken vessels. Only where the light shines through does the beauty of knowing reveal itself—we are imperfect and limited. Only in working with the pieces, the assistance of others, our inexact remembering, does a creature emerge, particle by particle, wave by wave, before finally settling into something recognizable.


"Dark Flower" @ Mary Dineen 


"Widow Books" by Fran Cronin:

The first time I tried to give away his clothes, I broke down in tears. I had barely pulled away from the curb when I turned around and retrieved all I had left at the used clothing consortium. Once back in my possession, they were sentenced to a decade of confinement in a dusty box. I have finally donated them to Goodwill.


"Phoebe" @ Mary Dineen 


"Prayer for Caitlin" by Laurie Weisz:

My life would never have been this particular life without Caitlin in it. She has a stone on the ground in a sleepy cemetery in New Hampshire, but she will live inside me forever. That, to me, is a kind of reincarnation, the essence of a self inside a self, whether it gets translated through DNA or through the voices people leave behind.

"Earth’s the Right Place for Love" by Lorraine Berry:

I knew what shell shock looked like now, how eyes go blank, empty of light. Hands flail at the air. A vacuum forms in a room of nineteen young students who have just realized they are mortal.

"Where Were You When the News Came?" by Martha Nichols:

Of course it was me turning the birds and clouds into the spirits I needed. Of course. I am like any human down the March of Time, seeking answers in the stars and the crackle of lightning.


"Bell Flower" @ Mary Dineen 


Thanks to photographer Mary Dineen, who lives in the Boston area, for contributing and helping to select these images.




The comment by Ken Hertz is something many horror writers think about...It may be one reason the genre has slid in popularity into a young adult vampire frenzy. But I think that all writing -- including horror writing -- centers on the power of emotion and the writer's ability to entice the reader into participating in it. As such, wonderful literature has both been written and awaits the next stroke of the keyboard -- whether such involves the horrors of real life or those that roam the darker corners of our imagination. If a writer starts thinking that fiction is trite and pointless, we've lost the true perspective of what literature is: a reflection of our lives and our times. As such, every story is built on the ruin and loss of real people and real history. That is what makes a writer's job a worthwhile -- harnessing Martha Nichol's lightning and filling Lorraine Berry's vacuum with a truth too bright to be gazed upon with nothing but the bare soul...

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