1. -Junebug-
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    -Junebug- New Member

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    Different ways people react to death?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by -Junebug-, Nov 30, 2011.

    Hello,

    __________ My current WIP begins after a major car accident in which my MC is the only survivor; she lost her sister and three friends. I have a couple ideas about my MC, but how should her other friends react?

    __________ The relationships in her extended group of friends are varied - acquaintances, friends, close friends, ex-lovers (still friends because they have a baby) and even family-like (because they were raised as foster siblings for a few years before turning 18). Everyone is in their early 20s, at least three each of males and females.

    __________ I only have limited experience with death and therefore am having a hard time thinking up different ways people may react or deal with it, depending on the circumstances of the death and their personality, etc.

    Thank you:)
     
  2. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Everyone deals with death and trauma differently. It's a bit obtuse and not nearly as inflexible as it might imply at first glance, but the famed stages of grief can be a useful guideline: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, I believe.

    Otherwise, in general, I'd say it is more than anything difficult to wrap ones' head around death. My grandma died a couple months back and I still have dreams - both nostalgiac, comforting and in some ways disturbing - of us having our little mundane conversations and inside jokes. It is in a sense both incredibly easy and hard to accept cognitively, factually, that she's gone.

    From what I've studied, one of the most damning psychological effects of a trauma is the sense of one's worldview being violated - of what one thought was, no longer making sense. Of one's conception of the world as relatively safe and predictable being shattered, following a violent murder or rape, for instance. As a counter-point, one of the main coping mechanisms following a trauma is "meaning-making": trying to make meaning of the event, after the fact. "It was meant to be." "They're in a better place." "I'll be a stronger person for all this." Etc, etc. True or not, it is one of the most natural and effective means of coming to terms with a trauma - a strategy people, more often than not, end up relying on.

    And to state the obvious, one's religious and spiritual beliefs factor heavily into this. I'm irreligious myself, so I'll refrain from comment on such things.

    Hope it helps..
     
  3. Summer
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    Summer Member

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    What Anonym said is great and I agree.

    With that said since the characters are yours, you should know them pretty well. Use what you know about them to help you, like personality. Base it on the relationships between the living and the dead. Having 3 people dying in the same crash makes it a little tricky because that is a pretty abnormal experience (to lose 3 people at once in an accident--all young, it's especially interesting at their ages because they are coming out of the "young and invincible phase"). The individual relationships between the living and dead might be lost with the magnitude of loss. It's really difficult to process one death, imagine three!

    What caused the accident? The driver? A different car? Weather? Drugs/Alcohol? Where were they going? These are things that can shape how people react to accidental deaths. Maybe the driver was doing something for someone, that person might feel guilty. Was the MC driving? Maybe the friends blame her. What direction do you want the story to go? Does this event pull these people apart or bring them closer together? If this accident is important, it must serve a purpose so keep that in mind. It goes beyond realistic reactions because you need it to take the reader somewhere.

    Personally, I've dealt with death. The thing I do? Ignore it once all the funeral stuff is over. It's terribly unhealthy but I cannot say the names of people I've loved that died. If I have to talk about them, never in the past tense. It has ruined my relationships with people because they wanted to talk about it, but I couldn't stand to. My personality: caring, talkative, bubbly, morbid, (the last two can co-exist okay?), kind of nerdy... that's about it. I don't feel like my reaction reacts perfectly with who I appear. I don't handle stress well which isn't something that everyone can see.
     
  4. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    The proximity of a person to the vic also has a huge factor. I see lots of stuff at work that does not faze me anymore, but it was hard seeing a family member after they had a stroke. Its sort of weird sometimes because to you its just another body to you, but to someone else that is their loved one.
    When It comes to death, survivors always want to blame themselves. Survivors guilt is a very real thing, I worked with a guy that had a huge does of it. it’s something that you might want to look into for your story.
     
  5. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    This is a websight written for kids:
    http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/emotions/someone_died.html#

    I would search for accident surviors in fatal crashes. Read about the real feelings, and apply what fits to your character.
    No one can describe it better then someone sharing the real thing, sometimes they can provide you with their reason for behaiving or acting the way they did. Why they did it will help to mold your MC's reactions. Don't copy one individual, every person is different.

    Just to clarify, steps of grieving is not a one way one time street. You can move from one to another then return to one you already have demonstrated.
     
  6. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it all depends from person to person as well as on what kind of relation they had, ex: a couple that have been married for 40 years might react in one way to the death of the other and a teenager who loses her best friend or boyfriend in a totally different way. It depends on so many things. I guess that everything from complete denial to extreme panic and loss of mental health is possible. it also depends on how close these people were of course.
     
  8. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    I have been a paramedic for 23 years and have seen a lot. Plus I lost my 13 year old daughter to trauma. The main, reoccurring thing is that people tend to avoid you because they feel uncomfortable around you after the event. They really don't know what to say or do so this alienation of your friends that you would normally depend on in such a crisis are largely absent, leaving you to deal and cope with the aftermath which is devastating.
     
  9. Kirsteen
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    Kirsteen New Member

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    I'm sorry to hear about your loss Felipe.

    I lost my mum last year and experienced what I can only describe as paralysis. Despite having two young children, I basically sat on my sofa for two months unable to function. I agree that the change in world view can be overwhelming - the world makes no sense without that person in it.

    Some of what I experienced:
    Forgetting and dreading that moment each day when the memory of the loss came back.
    Worrying that everyone was going to die, worrying that I was going to die.
    Not wanting to interact with people, in shops, on the internet - in fact anywhere.
    Feeling the need to stay in very regular contact with my sister who was the only one who could really understand how I felt.
    Everything else seeming unimportant, even old estrangements.
    Constant thoughts about what she must have gone through.

    I don't know if that helps or not :) I found all the text books on what I should be feeling completely irrelevant. I never got angry, was never in denial, never bargained. I was just overwhelmed with sadness and knew there was nothing I could do to change things. All my relationships suffered though - particularly with other family members/friends who I felt just acted as if nothing had happened.
     
  10. Salt
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    Salt New Member

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    I think a lot of us have probably more experience of death through fiction and the media rather than personally, and, obviously, what sells is high drama and emotions, whether or not it's a realistic portrayal. When my dog died about half a year ago, I didn't care. It took me literally about an hour to get over it.

    I also did a little bit of work with ten kids who'd experienced loss in the local area; a kind of project thing for them to come to terms with loss and their feelings. The youngest was about nine, the eldest maybe sixteen. The one thing that I found with most of them was that they were really normal kids who'd lost somebody. They still wanted to be normal kids. They didn't want to be labelled as the kid whose mum had died, and were very very private about their experiences. My role in the project was basically just helping out and being a friendly face, so I wasn't actually talking in-depth with the kids about what had happened and who they'd lost. Not one of them brought up the topic with me themselves, and I didn't ask any of them, and none of them told me themselves about any of their experiences.

    I'm quite young, and I suppose the thing I've noticed more than anything else is that young people tend to recover astonishingly quickly. The kids I worked with seemed really strong, and perhaps a bit quiet because they were working with a bunch of people they didn't know.
     

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