The art of writing about pain



I have been absent from this blog for a while. My mom transitioned into a short-term hospice facility and I’ve been dividing my time between New Hampshire and Connecticut. I’m a little stretched thin these days.

I’m telling you this not for sympathy, (but I will take any and all support) but rather I’m letting you know that as writers, when you are going through a particularly painful time – that’s when you should be picking up your pens and writing. Some pretty honest and gut wrenching stuff will come out.

Everyone handles adversity and grief in their own way. For me, it’s writing about it.

Writers all know that writing is and always will be the best therapy. When I write, all of those jumbled thoughts of insanity in my head become clear. I can pull them out and create some semblance of sense. When I write I start to breathe.

I have not had the time to sit down much at my computer (when I’m in New Hampshire  I teach and when I’m in Connecticut I’m with my mother) but I have been taking notes. At the end, I want to (need to) share with others what an incredible journey this has been. I want to explain what happens in hospice (I’ll tell you right now, I was a hospice virgin and didn’t have a clue.) I want people to know that although as a young woman I fought my mother and told her “I’m never going to be like you!” at the end, what I’m actually discovering is that I am indeed my mother’s daughter.

I want to let people know what a privilege it is to spend time with those who have limited time.

My mom is in a room with up to 3 other women who are all in different stages of their journeys. We all talk, we laugh – I bring bagels and coffee. And we mourn when yet another one leaves.

At the end there are no defenses left. You are stripped down to your essence and from that place empowerment, integrity and clarity emerges. And from that experience also can come powerful words.

It’s not time for me to fully write about this (I have been writing a little on my blog), but when it is, I’ll take out my notebook and will try my best to put into words what this incredible experience has meant and what lessons I have learned as I travel alongside my mother while she in on her final journey.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

15 thoughts on “The art of writing about pain

  1. My husband’s grandfather died last week. It sadden me that a whole life can fit in a small urn and can disappear with the wind just like that. His memories barely fill a small box, the rest is for charity. Nobody wants them.
    I used to be a nurse with intense experience with Palliative/ Psychiatric intensive care. I know the feeling.
    I wish you a peaceful and meaningful time with your mother. Be strong.

  2. Sorry to hear about your mom. My mom lived with me with hospice nurses coming in and out every day. She died of colon cancer. One thing that helped me was writing my story in my first book. Yes I agree writing helps. God bless you.

  3. I am sorry for what you are going through. It is difficult to accept that our loved one isn’t going to get better. I wrote my way through my mother’s illness and now I am writing through my father’s dementia. It helps so much. God bless.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I am sorry that you are going through this with your mother. But I am thankful that you have set an example of how you can see the good in circumstances even when those circumstances are not good. Writing through pain sometimes can have me stuck because I tend to not want to feel the pain inside, but I am realizing that feeling the pain is the beauty of it. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  5. Thank you for this encouraging blog. It is an absolute truth that until we have journeyed through life’s painful experiences. For me personally it has been the deaths of father, mother, three close friends, beautiful mother-in-law and father-in-law, journeyed through cancer wards and surgery places etc. Until then our writing will always be of a certain perspective. My writing now is becoming something else. I can actually feel I am experiencing the heart pain of the people in my stories. For me also faith has not been diminished but RISEN as I have been some places and met with some folk. No God…what would be the point? With God…..the possibilities ……… The blog evoked many memories. Thank you.

  6. I love that you have allowed yourself to be “stripped down to your essence” and that you have found power and clarity. This is how it should be, i would hope. how lovely that your share bagels and coffee with each of them. Blessings.

  7. My thoughts are with you. Your post brought tears to my eyes remembering my mom’s last years in a nursing home. She passed dec 2014. I’m also like her. Keep writing it is my lifeline as well

  8. Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” in which she writes on what she went through during her mother’s similiar journey and Dr.Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal” in which he writes on his experiences during his father’s struggle might help you…regards

  9. My father died at home of cancer almost twelve years ago. In his last few weeks I wrote once, but it’s a piece about my dad and me that I’ll always have with me. About five years ago I took a creative writing course. And no matter what my assignment, no matter what way I approached it, it invariably wound up being about my grief over my dad’s death. Even my husband, reading a story I’d written about a house or a dog or a woman climbing a mountain would comment ‘This is about your dad’. I cried a lot during that creative writing course, but it was theraputic, and through writing fiction for the first time I found new ways to explore and deal with my loss.
    My thoughts are with you and your mom. Enjoy the time you have together. And keep writing. xx

  10. Pingback: Writing Links Round Up 8/15-8/20 – B. Shaun Smith

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