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Mourning the death of a much-loved fictional character can be very tough.
As a reader you can become so attached to characters in books that at times they start to feel like real people.
Crying like a baby and hugging the book in question will only get you so far through the fictional character grieving process. It is good to let the grief pour out of you (literally) however this method can lead to raised eyebrows from concerned family members. This is then usually followed by the comment that no one wants to hear whilst in this emotional state – ‘they are not real – get a grip!’
So here are some useful tips to help you through this difficult and emotional time.
1. Finish the book – your beloved character might not be dead. It could all be a terrible dream or a cruel plot twist from the author. Wipe your eyes, grit your teeth and plough on through. You don’t want to enter into the fictional character mourning process and find out at the end that they never really died. What a waste of emotion!
2. Write a letter to your beloved deceased character – this actually works. Write them a heartfelt letter, explaining how devastated you are and that their death has left a crater sized hole in your life. My long and tear jerking letter to Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark in Game of Thrones eased my grief a lot.
3. Write a letter to the author – this is for when you are in the ‘anger’ stage of grief. You are cross that your beloved character has been cruelly taken from you and you want to vent some frustration. Penning the author a note on how upset and hurt you are can help the grief come out. Once finished you should decide whether you send it or not.
4. Give yourself a break from reading – this is important as you need closure. This can take a day, a couple of days or maybe even a week depending on the character.
5. Try to view the situation from the author’s perspective – this is a difficult one to stomach when you are in the clutches of grief. The deaths of characters are sometimes necessary as they change the dynamics of the story and dictate changes in other characters. Just think about how upset the author must be!
6. Go easy on yourself – this is a stressful time and you need to let your emotions calm down. Go for some long solitary walks.
7. Stay detached to characters on future books – this is easier said than done. When you do eventually move on to another book try not to get so attached to characters. If you find yourself falling in love with a new character, remind yourself of the pain you went through when your last character died.
8. Rewrite the chapter where they die – if you are still struggling with the loss of this character than why not take this radical approach – rewrite the page or chapter (depending on how long it took character to die) with the fictional character SURVIVING. Then glue your new bit onto the page of the book. Hey presto the nasty incident never happened! As an addition to this you could even overlay the last chapter with a new version where the said character makes a lively appearance and gives a warm and reassuring ‘hello – I’m feeling great!’ Warning: this will create an odd-looking book but at least you will no longer be suffering.
Take it easy!