What is grief?

H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonaldA recent reading of Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk prompts the question: What is grief?

Macdonald’s grief at the sudden death of her father is overwhelming and all encompassing. “For weeks I felt I was made of dully burning metal. That’s what it was like; so much so that I was convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that if you’d put me on a bed or a chair I would have burned right through.” She explains that bereavement, “from the Old English bereafian” means “to deprive of, take away, seize, rob. Robbed. Seized. It happens to everyone. But you feel it alone.”

Helen MacDonald works through her grief by training a young hawk she calls Mabel to hunt, to fly away and return to her. Strangely, almost mystically, MacDonald becomes one with her hawk, ultimately soothing and coming to terms with her loss and returning to the land of the living.

This article is not intended to debate the merits or failings of Helen Macdonald’s memoir, rather it is intended to explore grief as an emotion . . . continued at The Inflectionist.


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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

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One Response

  1. Some words like grief and cancer, either by association, memory or experience do expresses themselves powerfully on their own. Getting the right words in one’s writing for these and other sensitive areas is well worth the effort for connecting to readers.

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