Science Fiction and the Grieving Process

At io9, Lauren Davis writes about how science fiction helped her to deal with her grief at the sudden death of her younger brother.

The podcasts were meant to be a distraction, like the wine or the VCDs of movies my mom had brought home from a trip to Asia that Colin had never gotten a chance to watch. But one day, I heard Robert Reed’s story “A Woman’s Best Friend” on Clarkesworld, and I found that I felt inexplicably lighter. I ran home and immediately looked up the text of the story, rereading it for clues to my sudden shift in emotions.

“A Woman’s Best Friend” is a funny story, a sort of multi-worlds parody of It’s a Wonderful Life. Instead of being led through an alternate timeline by a down-on-his-luck angel, George Bailey is dumped in another universe by an interdimensional being who finds amusement in such rearrangements. George does meet a doppelgänger of his wife, Mary, but she’s no sad spinster and is, in fact, hip to the ways of the multiverse. George left behind a drowned corpse in his own world, but he comes to find that his new home universe holds all sorts of wonders.

Really, whether it is Battlestar Galactica (also referenced in the article) or The Iliad, this is one thing that literature is supposed to do, to help you reframe your life’s problems and learn how to deal with them in a quasi-mythic way. So hurray for that.