In Oscar Casares’ collection of short stories, he explores many topics including grief. Domingo is a story about an older man that finds himself working in America, as an illegal immigrant unable to go and visit his wife on a day of significance to them. The day was the birthday of their only daughter, who died as a young child. The couple was unable to have children for many years, so the child was a miracle to them. The death was caused by an encounter with fire that was preventable, leading Domingo to feel at fault for the death. In this essay, the effects of grief on the short story Domingo will be explored.
Domingo, the protagonist of the story, carried the guilt of allowing the child to go into the fire although it was unintentional. It states, “How could the child have been taken from them so quickly? Domingo blamed himself for not having kept her away from the pit. He carried the guilt on his back as if it were a load of firewood that was added to with each passing year.” (Casares, 80). To a grief source, this response to an accident such as the one described in the book can be common to those who are experiencing grief, “In some cases, we can be partially to blame for the occurrence of someone’s death, complicating guilt even further… Ultimately, placing blame, whether justified or unjustified, on others, or yourself, is not going to fix things. It won’t magically dissolve the guilt, it won’t make you instantly feel better and ultimately, it won’t bring them back.” (grief.org.au 2). This source highlights that a complicated situation surrounding the death, where a loved one could have potentially done something to prevent the accident, can lead to exacerbated guilt for the griever. Domingo’s self- blame for the fact that he did not keep his daughter out of the fatal situation shows how guilt is apparent in his grief.
At the end of the story, he finally asks God for forgiveness from his anger around the death of his daughter. It states, “And now, almost twenty years later, he had discovered there was no answer: it had been the will of God. There was nothing he could do but accept the life he had been given. He asked God for forgiveness and then, for a second, he let go of the tree in order to make the sign of the cross. In that moment, he felt light enough to blow away like a leaf.” (Casares 87). The grief source states asking for forgiveness as a good way to cope with loss, “Ask your loved one for forgiveness, either out loud, in your mind or on paper. You won’t receive an answer, but the process of asking can be healing.” (grief.org.au 2). The step of asking for forgiveness can ultimately help one move on from their guilt over the death and build a bridge into turning over a new leaf.
Casares, Oscar. Brownsville. Back Bay Books, 2009.
“Grief and Guilt.” Grief.org.au, 2014, www.grief.org.au/uploads/uploads/Rosemary-Branch-Autumn-2014.pdf.
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