1. Cattlebruiser
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    Cattlebruiser Member

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    How long does mourning last?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Cattlebruiser, Feb 5, 2016.

    Wahey!
    So medium story short, a guy and a gal enter another world. Very portal fantasy cliche.
    And the girl dies within a day when they are forced into a fight.
    How long would the male mourne this? Since child they've been friends, not really in a relationship but it could have developed something.
    The male has stuff to deal with. He has to find his brother who is somewhere in that world, and he is not really alone since there's a motherly figure that will be his next partner in action.
    The event in which his friend dies is a forced fight between a mercenary leader (who finds the two and takes them with him) and a team of soldiers (captain being this "motherly figure")
    How long before he forgives the mercenary leader?
    How long before he forgives this woman (captain)?
    Does he even blame any of the two at all?

    I've been having a hard time standing in his shoes, so I need some help here. I just don't want it to lose importance, yet I can't really drag it on for too long.

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's entirely situational, and it's not really about time, per say, it's about each individual's grieving process. Some go through it relatively quickly, others take years.

    However "long" you decide to have it go on, make sure your character goes through the stages:
    1. Denial/shock
    2. Anger/guilt
    3. Bargaining
    4. Depression
    5. Acceptance
     
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  3. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    In a sense, mourning goes on forever. The sadness and loss will always stay, but when the initial shock and grief is over, there will be acceptance and lessons learned. Depending on the person and how close and meaningful a relationship was this process can take months, years or a lifetime. I think the best way to put it would be that mourning is over when the person mourning can go on with his/her's life without thinking too much about it and having given the loss a place, and having learned from the experience.
     
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  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I need more details. Did they regard any of these two as allies at any time, or were they prisoners of the mercenary leader and then of the captain?

    Although even when I get answers, my response will probably be "it depends." It depends on how important she was to him, and in what way she was important, and the circumstances of her death.
     
  5. Cattlebruiser
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    Cattlebruiser Member

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    Good points everyone.
    These two entered the portal fantasy world together, so the initial mindset of the male was "she's gonna be supporting me throughout the whole thing". Same with her. It's important because I presented her as a protagonist, yet she's gone in page 50 or so. She's developed as a character.

    They were prisoners of the mercenary leader, who planned some kind of ambush to the soldier squadron with the captain, who was like an inside-rat, who lead her squad into the ambush on purpose. The progatonist will enough about this soon enough but I don't think it will matter too much.


    I think I'll make the male character continue in the plotline (no sitting by the fireplace sobbing) but make him point out how he still keeps her death in mind. Probably something like a good dialogue and a page of sadness before returning to his mission.

    Hmm, interesting. He went through shock-anger(tons of) and bargaining during the fight, pretty much. He went all superman, which is the reason of his survival.
    Depression could be his current state, so I guess I can be closing in to acceptance.

    Thanks a lot to everyone!
    (Not yet totally sure, so if there's any comment anyone wants to share, please do.)
     
  6. NobodySpecial
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    I suppose a lot would depend on the culture you want to portray in your portal or the culture your characters left. The old traditional mourning period in America used to be one year. Some cultures allow as little as ten days, some a few months.

    In the greater sense of things, like has been mentioned, griefe is very person specific. When my first fiancé died I was devastated. By contrast there are people on this planet who, when they die, I will be throwing a party. No matter how the deceased is related to a person, there is no 'just get over it'. But you do have to get on with it, the world won't wait for long.
     
  7. Charis Anwyn
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    Charis Anwyn New Member

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    Like the others have said, it's so dependant on the personality of you male character. It could be that he mourns her the entire story, never truly getting over the fact she died, but then it could be that he grieves for a very short amount of time and carries on as he would. I think you being the author, you know your character inside and out, and with that the feeling of how they would react/feel to a situation. If its out of character that they mourn for a short/long period of time it will seem like they've been forced to do so to keep the story going, whereas if its believable that they would be feeling like that then the story will flow.
     
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    When my friend was talking about her father's death, she said "I think grieving is blown way out of proportion in fiction". When my nan died - the person I loved most in the world - I agreed with her. In my experience, generally people cope really well with the deaths of loved ones. I didn't go through the stages No Name Slob mentions - I was shocked, sad, and then accepted it. I was never angry or depressed and didn't try to bargain. One of my friends is currently dealing with the death of his wife, and he hasn't followed those stages either.

    I don't think it depends on how important the person was to you. I do think circumstances of death are important - my nan, and my friend's wife, were both diagnosed with terminal illnesses and we all had time to adjust before their deaths.

    The only person I've ever seen go into a full spiral-of-depression meltdown was a woman who lost her son when he was a child. It dominated her every waking moment for years, and she was never the same. That was a very sudden death.

    In this case, I think the 'unfinished business' aspect would make it worse. If he regrets never pursuing a romantic relationship, or if he keeps going over what he could have done differently, that's going to make grieving a much more difficult process for him.
     
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  9. Cattlebruiser
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    Cattlebruiser Member

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    Thank you for sharing those experiences.
    The bolded (last) part would probably be it.
    He does regret many things such as
    1. Bringing her along. He was doubting before, and that would make him think he had the choice to avoid this.
    2. Not making a move. They've known each other for like 5 years and they clicked perfectly.
    3. Not protecting her. He found out rather late that he had the strength to fight hordes, but it was not until she died that he discovered his 'power'. (Her death being the trigger, but that's not something he thinks about right now)

    I think I know how to write this, then. I'll follow the stages of dealing with death, and allow him to remember her throughout the story. It's going to affect him as a character in an interesting way.
     
  10. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    The kubler-ross model, while helpful isn't always correct, and writing through it perfectly can come across as formulaic. While the stages do happen, not all of them happen to each person grieving, nor do they have to happen in that order.
     
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  11. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    I typed up a huge post about the fridge, then deleted the whole thing. The very fact that you're asking these questions shows a sense of fridge avoidance--truly fridged characters set a revenge plot in motion and then never matter again, like they could just as easily have been a stolen ice cream cone. Still, I think it's a concept worth mentioning as something to avoid, if only because the case you're describing is really easy to gender. (The last time I read a book in which there was a male MC and a female MC and the latter was unceremoniously killed off, the female MC was gang-raped and murdered alongside her child so the author could ironically lampshade the tropes of revenge plots. I damn near threw the book across the room.)

    I guess all I'm asking is that this character have a reason for her life and death that couldn't have been fulfilled if she'd never existed. Sure, she makes the character and reader depressed for a while, but when they stop being depressed, did that change the story at all? Did it take any different plot path or tackle any different themes than it would have without her, or did it simply correct for her as an unnecessary quantity?
     
  12. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Grief/mourning is completely variable. I think one factor to consider is how much death the person has experienced in their life previously.

    Using myself as an example, the first time one of my dogs died I went through all the stages of grief. Subsequent pet deaths have resulted in sadness but not experiencing all of the stages. Death has become more familiar as I've grown older and stings noticeably less, though I am hardly immune to mourning each departed soul. In some ways I miss the sting of the earlier pain as I feel that I have lost something over the years.

    Death may be more matter-of-factual to someone who has grown up in a ghetto where murders are commonplace vs someone living a sheltered existence. Your character's back story would probably determine the level of grief he would experience at present.
     
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  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    And, another point to the "it's an individual thing" situation - I feel like for me, each new death hurts more than the last one, because I remember the last one while I'm dealing with this one. Like, death A was just death A, but death B hurt just as bad for itself plus reminded me of A, and C reminded me of A and B, etc.

    I've got to say - your way sounds way better!
     
  14. BoddaGetta
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    BoddaGetta Active Member

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    It honestly depends.

    When I lost my mother, I had my disabled sister's permanent happiness and health to think of, and we were being bombarded by collections calls for medical bills. I also had to figure out pretty much everything for the funeral, since my father was dealing with money issues and my sister.

    Immediately after death, most don't have time to grieve. It starts to set in later.

    If it is someone really close like a parent/guardian, spouse, sibling, or child, some form of grief tends to linger forever. I don't mull over my mother every day, but sometimes I'll find a recipe written in her hand, or come across an old picture and the sadness returns for a brief moment. Or holidays and life events. She never saw me get married, so I felt grief for her on my wedding day. She won't get to see her grandchildren either, so when I choose to have children thoughts of her will probably come up again.

    Grief isn't methodical, nor does it keep precisely to those "5 stages" diagrams. It is individual and comes and goes.
     
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  15. Cattlebruiser
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    Alright, unboxing the cat.
    The female is not dead at all, she goes unconscious, and then the mercenary group leaves the scene with the supplies they robbed.
    Male goes real angry, because his 'powers' are pretty much Hulk-like. But he does get hurt and if you pierce at his throat, well, he dies. This way he discovers that.
    I guess I kinda put her in the fridge for the sole reason of making the male angry? But there's more.
    She is the daughter of a the local veterinarian, and the souls and ether around her carry the spirits of those animals she either saved or accompanied to the last moment. These forest people that rush in to hush the fighting mercenaries and soldiers pick her up and turn her into one of them.
    I had to separate these two because they, as being so close and so similar, there was little room for character development on both sides. They relied on the fact that they had each other to feel safe inside, and their minds were just too clear about their situation.
    Oh and it did take a different plot path. I literally scrapped 30 pages of boring plot. (Still a little mad inside.)
    I could introduce this motherly figure that the protagonist was lacking, introduced the tree folk race that are like some forest people with magic, made the protagonist more in need to find his brother (ok, some fridging here), and more importantly set up a future reencounter to show how much this world changed them. Also now they will meet with the lost brother at different times, which will be extremely important since in the future chapters the protagonist and his brother will be in opposite forces.
    The main reason why this series of events happens is because they had to be split up, to motivate both characters, not only the male.

    This was really helpful, thank you.
     
  16. Cattlebruiser
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    This shed light. Thank you for sharing.
     
  17. No-Name Slob
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    I assume most writers will take ideas and use many creative liberties to prevent them from coming across as formulaic. I'm not about to write the story for the OP, but I think using the Kugler-Ross Model as a general guide for the character is a much better and more realistic way to set the stage, than giving him a specific timeline for his grief.
     
  18. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I'm glad other people have already chimed in about the 'stages of grief' thing.

    Excerpt taken from Dr. Allan Kellehear’s Foreword: “On Death and Dying” – 40th Anniversary Edition:
    I don't have much to say that hasn't been mentioned already. Yeah, it's different for different people both in how they mourn and how long it takes. It depends on how it happens, too. I've been very lucky and not so far lost any people who're important to me, but I know it was a lot easier when my pet rat died because she'd been sick and it was good on some level that she wasn't suffering anymore - as opposed to losing a dog I had as a kid when he had to be put down due to rabies. A sudden, violent death is usually going to be harder than one that you've had time to realize is coming for a while. Exactly how it goes down though is ultimately dependent on the character effected by it.
     
  19. Holden LaPadula
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    Not too long. You could refer to the 5 stages of grief if you want, as recommend above, but grief if more of a plot device than anything else. Nobody wants a quarter of a novel about the misery of a character. Maybe he doesn't have time to grief? Maybe you could use the lessons or the symbolic meaning of these grief-causing characters as foils or themes that carry with the main character, instead of just droning sadness? Overall, play with it, keeping the idea that the story must go on, and death is never just grief!! :D
     
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  20. Rob40
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    Rob40 Active Member

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    I would like to point out something here. I studied this quite a bit in putting another project together. (currently mothballed) the 5 stages are there, but every person goes through them diffferently, as in a different order than this, but also, not evveryone actually goes through ALL off them. some never see denial and shock, others never seee bargaining. It all depends on how someone died or why. Theres quite a range of using those 5 steps possible. As far as time, yes like others have said, it all depends on the character. some never get over it. some jus tlive with it. some get over it surprisingly quick.
     

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