“Stages of Pre-Bereavement”

It’s May Day and that means Darkness Blooms is available! (You can find it at The Dread Machine, plus the usual print and ebook retailers.) The anthology is edited by Alin Walker and Monica Louzon and includes a bunch of impressive stories. My own “Stages of Pre-Bereavement” kicks things off.

Darkness Blooms cover art
Cover art by Yorgos Cotronis

I’m very pleased to see this story out in the world. I wrote it back in 2017, when I was starting to feel the desire to write again but not, necessarily, the compulsion to worry about the publishing bit. 2017 was not a great year for me: US politics were a disaster, my job prospects were grim, and my mental health wasn’t all that great. I thought a lot about being trapped in ruts, an inescapable capitalist grind, and my inability to see alternatives. I obsessively worried about family, very frequently focusing on the scenario where my husband died. I’d sometimes lie in bed imagining the moment he just stopped breathing and what would happen next.

If this story reads like it comes out of a place of specific, personal anxiety, that’s because it does.

As sometimes happens, writing the story served as a bit of an exorcism. My fear of others’ mortality subsided to a healthier level. (Dealing with the mental health stuff didn’t hurt, either.) I still worry about losing the people I love, but it doesn’t creep into every moment of the day and night.

Two years after I wrote the first draft, I edited the story and began sending it out. Initially, it seemed to be making it to second-round consideration a lot—for a while, I referred to it as my bridesmaid story—but then seemed to be getting more perfunctory bounces. Was my rejectomancy off? Was the pandemic killing editors’ appetite for stories about grief?

One important thing about writing: you only need to win once. The Darkness Blooms call sounded like a good fit, the story connected with Alin and Monica, and hopefully it will connect with other people, too.





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