Character motivation — “complicated grief”

Though it doesn’t directly involve legal issues, I was touched by this story in the Washington Post, which offers fiction writers some insight on the “complicated grief” the families of crime victims often experience. Our characters act out of their own experiences; their emotions may motivate them in surprising ways. This story about about the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing in Washington, DC, may also offer some character opportunities: the young boy whose father killed his mother but was acquitted when the child, the only witness, waffled on the stand; the grandmother who lost her daughter and now must raise her grandson; the counselors who work with these families; the Episcopal priest who started the center because he felt his congregation “did not deal well with mortality;” the therapists stationed at the morgue to help people who come in to identify a body. The Center — part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a group of trauma-treatment organizations established by Congress in 2000 — is what the article calls “the resource you hope you never have to use.”


But your characters may need need it.