Essay on Dealing With Grief In The Lovely Bones

Essay on Dealing With Grief In The Lovely Bones

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The characters in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones are faced with the difficult task of overcoming the loss of Susie, their daughter and sister. Jack, Abigail, Buckley, and Lindsey each deal with the loss differently. However, it is Susie who has the most difficulty accepting the loss of her own life. Several psychologists separate the grieving process into two main categories: intuitive and instrumental grievers. Intuitive grievers communicate their emotional distress and “experience, express, and adapt to grief on a very affective level” (Doka, par. 27). Instrumental grievers focus their attention towards an activity, whether it is into work or into a hobby, usually relating to the loss (Doka par. 28). Although each character deals with their grief differently, there is one common denominator: the reaction of one affects all.
Jack Salmon, Susie’s father, is most vocal about his sorrow for losing his daughter. However, his initial reaction was much different. Upon hearing that Susie’s ski hat had been found, he immediately retreats upstairs because “he [is] too devastated to reach out to [Abigail] sitting on the carpet…he could not let [her] see him” (Sebold 32). Jack retreats initially because he did not know what to do or say to console his family and he did not want them to see him upset. This first reaction, although it is small, is the first indicator of the marital problems to come. After recovering from the initial shock, Jack decides that he must bring justice for his daughter’s sake and allows this goal to completely engulf his life. He is both an intuitive and instrumental griever, experiencing outbursts of uncontrolled emotions then channeling that emotion into capturing the killer. He focuses his efforts in such an e...


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...on family would not have been able to survive. Though each of them handled their loss differently, the actions of one person molded the decisions of another. Sebold expresses the need to constantly move forward despite loss in order to grow as an individual and also teaches readers to appreciate the little things that remind them that they are alive. The Salmon’s may not be perfect, but neither is Heaven.

Works Cited
Doka, Kenneth J. Beyond Gender: Patterns of Grief. 4 May 2007. .
Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2003.
Lehman, Darrin R., et al. “Long-term effects of sudden bereavement: Marital and parent-child relationships and children’s reactions.” Journal of Family Psychology 2.3 (1989): 344- 367. PsyARTICLES. 4 May 2007. .
“The Lovely Bones”. Magill’s Literary Annual 2003. (2003). Literary Reference Center. 4 May 2007. .

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