Imagine the Toll Grief Takes on Writing Motivation

I feel like there’s pulsating goo bubbling behind my forehead. 

by Olivia Walters

Waking up without an outline of where the day is headed is a freelance writer’s worst enemy.

For two days I got knocked off my schedule. That feeling crept back into my gut. My bed swallowed my legs and food tasted like nothing

In my email inbox I found a couple of sparse conversations with an editor and interviewees about upcoming articles. 

My word count for those off days? 400 words.

For two days. 

I’ve got a lot on my mind. Heavy stuff. I’m going to a funeral on my birthday.  

This past week has drilled a hole inside my skull. I feel like there’s pulsating goo bubbling behind my forehead. 

When Life Slows Down Work

Last Saturday, standing beside my partner, watching his Dad fade away; and the way our bodies responded: sitting by his bedside for 72 hours, holding his hand, petting his head, and playing music beside his ear—those moments defied my life experiences up until now. 

All the comfort and reassurance we gave to ease his transition from here to not here.

His Dad never had a choice. ALS chose him.

He was literally

waiting to die.

Six days later, I’m sitting in my office considering the idea that their family is lucky. 

In the United States, federal authority is unreliable on the subject of paid bereavement leave.

It is largely left to the employer’s discretion of whether to allow their employee a bereavement period. The hope for paid-time off is an even narrower possibility in the private-sector.

As of 2018, a survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 16% of private-industry employees had access to paid family leave

My partner sent one text to his restaurant manager and she agreed to give him time off; no questions asked. His mother doesn’t work; she never had to haggle to request a six month leave to stay beside her ailing husband. They are not bound to work contracts or expected to return to work prepared to make up for lost time

As for me, I work for myself.

I label this as lucky, but maybe it isn’t as simple. My partner missed both Friday and Saturday night last week from work. He also took off tomorrow, another Saturday, to go to the funeral. 

Anyone who works in hospitality knows what a blow this is to a paycheck. He’s losing money and adding financial stress to his grief. We don’t know the hotel’s policy on paid bereavement. It’s worth asking about. 

Not working doesn’t mean we can ignore the reality of bills.

Despite the emotional hardship of the past week, I still woke up today and made my way to the computer.

Mornings are for writing. I’ve got to keep going. ■

Image credits // stocksnap.io

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