Write Your Loss

Ocean Vuong says this: “Part of writing is abandonment. It’s a letting go.” I agree completely. It’s also about writing fearlessly, meaning not worrying what anyone else might think.

This interview with Ocean is quite long, and a little academic initially, but I found it quite illuminating. If you have time after the course, and are so inclined, come back and give it a listen.


Everyone experiences loss of some kind. If we are lucky enough to grow old, the amount of loss that we are witness to becomes magnified. How we overcome and survive that loss is different for everyone and, ultimately, it reveals a lot about our uniqueness as individuals, plus it impacts our future in one way or another. 

When my mother died, I hardly felt anything. She was a complicated woman, physically and emotionally abusive to me and my siblings, as well as a hypochondriac and a pathological liar. Four years after her passing, my step-father, who raised me from age 5, died. I was not at all close to him because he more or less scared me. But unlike with my mom’s passing, I was so distraught over my step-father’s death that I sat at the keyboard for days, sobbing and sobbing. Writing has always been a balm for me and eventually I set about writing scores of poems about my parents, the torments and tortures they inflicted on their children. I typically write dark stuff, but these were dark to the tenth power. Putting all that on paper was cathartic, healing in a way. I never thought any of them would get published, and I certainly didn’t write them with publication in mind, but to my surprise, almost all of them found good homes in various magazines and journals.

Recently my dog, and best friend, passed away suddenly. Lucy was with me for 9 years and was constantly by my side. The word devastated doesn’t even come close to the despair I felt, and still feel, to a degree. But as I always do when I am struggling with pain, or any issue really, I wrote about losing Lucy, loving Lucy, what Lucy meant to me, and afterwards I felt better. Not healed, but the anguish diminished.

Have you ever lost a pet? Try writing about how that made you feel, how it disrupted other’s lives, what you did about it.

Or try changing the POV. Write about it from your sister’s POV, or your parents’ POV, or even from the pet’s POV.