Discuss the way guilt and grief manifests in one or two characters and analyse how they deal with it. Abigail Salmon, Susie’s mother, shows grief differently to the way Jack Salmon, Susie’s father grieves. The five stages of grief are what one should expect to happen to them when someone they love is dying or has died. The way Abigail Salmon grieves varies throughout the book and is evidently different in style to the rest of the family. The variation of Jack Salmon grieving techniques over Susie bonds with the relationship he had with her.
Abigail and Jack Salmon discover through out the book that everybody grieves differently depending on how close they were to the person. Guilt and grief are the most important aspects of reacting to death. Guilt is an affective feeling in which someone experiences conflict at having done something that one believes the other should not have done or on the other hand having not done something one believes they should have done.
Grief is the thoughts and feeling that are experienced within us when someone we love dies, the internal meaning given to the experience of bereavement.
Grief is fundamentally an emotional response to loss, the expression of which can include sadness, sorrow, fatigue, depression, relief, shock, anger, guilt, and anxiety. There are five stages of grieving for someone, first is shock and denial, denying that it happened or will happen. Anger, expressing big emotions towards someone or something accusing them of what happened is the second one. Thirdly, is bargaining, it often takes place before the loss. Attempting to make deals with the spouse who is leaving, or attempting to make deals with God to stop or change the loss.
Begging, wishing, and praying for them to come back. Fourthly, depression, having overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self pity, mourning loss of person as well as the hopes, dreams and plans for the future. Feeling lack of control and numb or perhaps feeling suicidal, some people do not even get out of depression depending on their relationship with the person who died or is dying. Last stage of grief is acceptance, having to accept that the person has gone and will not be returning. Abigail Salmon shows several symptoms of guilt and grief and it projects hroughout the book. At the start when she hears that Susie is dead, she feels guilty that she wasn’t there for Susie when she needed her the most. That she wasn’t there to protect her from what killed her or how she died. In the first few days of having Susie missing, Abigail and her family do not touch her room as a sign of denial; hoping she’ll come back in a few days. Abigail kept all the clothing the police found of Susie’s hoping she would come back to claim them one day. She grieves differently from the rest of her family. Abigail deals with them in many different ways not just one.
She doesn’t talk to her family much and doesn’t show a lot of the emotions she feels. Occasionally she has a smoke with Ruana Singh, Ray’s mother. She would take long walks with her mother around the block for a talk and fresh air. Abigail feels lonely because her husband Jack Salmon and she do not exactly talk after awhile, so she has an affair with the detective in charge of the murder of Susie, Detective Len. Abigail takes her son Buckley, who is only 3 years old to the shopping centre and leaves him with the caretaker of a small childcare playground, she then follows Detective Len into a deserted stairwell and they make love.
She is showing her loneliness in grief by having an affair to ensure herself that it cannot be real. After a while she can not handle how her family is grieving so she leaves to California in her father’s caravan to leave for awhile to grieve a lone. When she comes back from California, she tells Jack that she hasn’t forgotten Susie, that she sees her everywhere she looks, girls with the same hair cut and colour as Susie did or the same fashion sense. When Jack goes to the hospital for getting beaten up by Clarissa’s boyfriend, Abigail goes for a walk with Detective Len outside.
They start talking about the death of his wife and why she killed herself and he says to her “That’s the question that preoccupies me most when I’m not preoccupied by things like your daughters’ murder”. (pg 147 chapter 12) That is the line that makes Abigail accept her daughters dead because she can handle hearing it now because before she would always walk away when it had something to do with Susie’s death. The way Jack Salmon grieves connects more to Susie than anyone else in his family. He breaks the ship bottles on the floor that he and Susie made together.
He stays in his den for a long time reading and overlooking the cornfield. Jack and Abigail don’t go to sleep at the same time; Jack always waits til Abigail goes to sleep first then he climbs into the bed. He finds out that Mr Harvey is the one that murdered his daughter so he tries different ways of convincing the police that he is the murderer and secretly tries to kill Mr Harvey himself. He accepts that his daughter is dead by showing the monopoly pieces to Buckley and telling him that his big sister is not coming back at all.
Abigail and Jack Salmon have different ways of dealing with their grief. They both go through the five stages of grief some at the same time and others at different times for different reasons. Abigail goes through many more ways of dealing with her grief and has numerous methods to make sure her family does not notice how and why she grieves the way she does. Jack has less grieving structures but all of them always connect back to Susie while Abigail tends to want to get over it quicker.
Jack seems to want to know that when Mr Harvey is caught and sentenced he can get on with his life and know he will think of Susie in the great memories they had, not that she was brutally raped and murdered. While Abigail and Jack grieve they learn that everyone chooses their own way to mourn over someone they love and there is no right and wrong way of caring for the dead. Bibliography Sebold S, 2002 The Lovely Bones. USA. Little Brown and Company Vercoe E, Abramowski, K 2004 The Grief Book. Victoria. Black Dog Books. http://www. essortment. com/all/stagesofgri_rvkg. htm
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