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Grief Printables

Exercises from Writing With a Heavy Heart

Copyright 2012 by Denise Jaden

If you have purchased a copy of Writing With a Heavy Heart, please feel free to print additional copies of these exercises for personal use.

(Highlight the exercise you’d like and copy to your word processor or click CTRL-P to print.)

Exercise: Healing Timeline

Look at your current work in progress dealing with grief. Even if there may be several characters enduring a loss of some kind, choose one character and map out his timeline for healing. You can come back and complete this exercise for all of your grieving characters.

When did the main loss occur for this character? (Even if there is no date/year specified in your fiction, choose one for purposes of this timeline.)

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When will the character regain a normal state of wholeness after this loss? (Even if this doesn’t occur during the course of your story, you should know when this will come.)

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Name three scenes in the course of your story (and their approximate timing in the overall timeline) where your character is pushed to deal with his grief:

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Look at the dates you have listed above. Are there any large gaps in the timeline of healing where you could add a character or situation that would bring your character’s grief to the forefront again?

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Keeping the above chapter in mind, do all of these scenes have authentic reasons for pushing your character toward dealing with his grief, or do you still need to do some work on your backstory of your supporting characters?

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In any of these scenes, can you push your character farther and make it more impossible to avoid friction with other characters?

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Exercise: Methods of Grieving

Below, list your characters by name along the left-hand side.

Even if these characters will not be dealing with grief during the course of your story, it is important to know their feelings on the subject in order to play up the tension that comes from differing opinions.

Can you give any of your characters more extreme opinions on how grief should be dealt with?

Character Name: Method of Dealing With Grief:
(Examples: Isolation/workaholism/weeping/stocism)

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Exercise: The Spectrum of Emotions

Exercise: Hasty Decisions Create Added Tension

Exercise: Causing Spiritual Change

Exercise: Loss History

Write out a Loss History for one or more of your characters.

Take time to list any losses your character has experienced throughout the course of his or her life. Include any instances where he felt a sense of loss, no matter how unimportant the circumstances may seem in the present. Think of missed promotions, friends moving away, the deaths of pets, the ends of friendships, job losses, and lost opportunities, as well as loss of loved ones.

Consider what kind of painful losses he has experienced and how he has reacted to each of those losses.

DATE: LOSS:

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Exercise: Self-Talk

Exercise: Grieving Before the Loss

Exercise: Grieving According to Age

Exercise: Clues to Healing

Exercise: Set the Tone

STEPS TO HEALTHY GRIEVING (CHECKLIST TO SHOW FULL CHARACTER ARC)

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