Conflicted grief is what happens when the relationship with the deceased person was ambivalent, meaning the survivor felt both love and hate. The bereaved might not feel a lot of pain initially, but later can feel a great deal of guilt and sadness over the hate part of their connection. Since grief can happen when an object is lost or a building from our past gets bulldozed, it's important for writers to allow for that grief within the pages of your manuscripts.
Before I got married, I went home and cleaned out my childhood room. I had about 12 bags of trash to throw out...but this trash was stuff I had thought enough of at the time to keep. But as someone grows up, things that meant something in the past might not mean as much as present. Still, I was conflicted about throwing that stuff away.
Even more so was when my husband and I visited the next year and my pastel pink and white room had been painted a different color! I wasn't sure how to feel. It was like a part of me had been painted over without my approval, yet I cognitively knew that my parents had a right to paint that room however they wanted, as it wasn't "mine" anymore.
I'm not sure if this fits, but I can only imagine Frodo from The Lord of the Rings had some conflicted grief about throwing that ring into the fire. On the one hand, he was saving humanity. On the other, he could have dominated humanity with it.
Chronic grief could also occur when a parent finds out they are going to have a disabled or developmentally delayed child. Parents can grieve over their child for years, thinking they will never have a "full life" or know certain aspects of life that we think will be denied them due to their condition.
Join me next week as I look Distorted grief and Disenfranchised guilt.
Q4U: Can you think of any cinematic of fictional examples of conflicted or chronic grief?
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