Joan Didion Reflection

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Joan Didion is one of America’s iconic writers. In her powerful book, “The Year of Magical Thinking”, she portrays the story of how her only daughter Quintana, just days before Christmas in 2003, was taken ill, put in an induced coma and placed on life support. A matter of days later, her husband John, suffered a massive and fatal coronary. Didion asserts, “This is my attempt to make sense of the period that followed, weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I had ever had about death, about illness ….. about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself” (pg 7, 2005). Research demonstrates that there is a higher risk for development of morbid or complicated…show more content…
She described her parents death as expected, “I had been expecting (fearing, dreading, anticipating) those deaths all my life. They remained, when they did occur, distanced, at a remove from the ongoing dailiness of my life” (Didion, pg. 27, 2005). The sudden loss of John, was an entirely different experience, one that placed her in a “high-risk group” for complicated grief (Potocky, 1993). Didion noted the “ordinary nature of everything preceding” some disasters. Didion (2005) in the days that followed John’s death, takes action to inform his brother of the death, something that had to be done, while simultaneously recognising that she herself wasn’t ready to fully accept the news, “there was a level on which I believed that what had happened remained reversible” (pg, 32). Also, the writing of an obituary which she avoided would have…show more content…
Tapping into these creative outlets supports the process of grieving and the expression of emotion in a subconscious way that can be both powerful and deep, and freeing to the soul. We gain insight and understanding as we revisit our experiences in an attempt to find meaning. Retelling stories about the deceased and describing their character, acts to affirm the material existence of the deceased, confirming they were real human beings. Didion (2005) recalls how John would write down all their daughters words ‘on scraps of paper and put them in a black painted box’’ (pg. 50). Research suggests that individual’s attempts in meaning making after the loss of a loved one is “necessary” (Parkes & Weiss, 1983, p. 156) for growth to occur. Empirical evidence suggests that when the bereaved are successful in finding meaning they have better outcomes. Failure to make meaning is conducive to complicated grief (Neimeyer et al. 2006, as cited in Neimeyer, Burke, Mackay, & Van Dyke Stringer, 2009). We don’t know ahead of time, “the undending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself” (pg 189). In her search for meaning, Didion questions her circumstances and displays attitudinal change and an attempt to be present in her life, “Was it because I was

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