In the book, The Writer's Idea Book, I read a chapter that begins with a quote from Peter Devries:
The writer can only explore the inner space of his characters by perceptively navigating his own.
The author of the book writes:
Getting to know who you are is indeed helpful-- and it's probably one of the reasons that you write. It's also helpful to know yourself better in order to find the sources of your creativity.
This exercise is a part of that exploration:
WRITE ABOUT YOUR 1ST EXPERIENCE WITH DEATH: WHO DIED? WHEN? WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT DEATH BEFORE THE EVENT? WHAT DID YOU COME TO LEARN ABOUT DEATH AFTER THE EVENT?
The 1st experince I remember having with was when my Godfather, Nick Dieduch, died. The exact year escapes me at the moment, but I was just a kid, and it was before later deaths of an Aunt & Uncle in the early 70's.
He was Polish, and Eastern Orthodox, and I remember there was a huge dinner at his home, where friends, family, and church members all came to celebrate his life, after the funeral.
I don't remember whether this was something provided by the family or not.
I remember thinking that this humble old gardener, who always was kind, and humorous, and was a close friend of my parents, was now gone.
Gone where I wasn't sure except that I'd never see him again.
I remember the old Priest from St. Andrew's Orthodox Church was there, in all his finery, and his flowing gray beard, and everyone was reverential around him.
Me? I just stared in awe, and trepedation.
I remember the funeral at the mortuary, and cemetary, earlier in the day, all the incense, and words in a foreign language that I didn't understand, and walking past the casket, and gazing at that lifeless person that I knew as one formerly full of life.
I remember the funeral procession driving the 3 miles to the cemetary, and the solemn words, and ceremony at the graveside.
As the years passed, and I grew older, and an Uncle, an Aunt, and a Grandmother all died from age or illness (cancer), and I understood the fact of death, and nothingness, and that our souls supposedly went to heaven, yadda, yadda, yadda, but, emotionally, even my Father's death in 1988 didn't fully register on my psyche because, due to his condition at the time, I'd been prepared for his death for at least a year or more.
It was my Mother's sudden, unexpected, death, in 1990 that blew the lid off my emotions, and filled me with loss, and nearly broke my heart.