After Susie Salmon’s death, both parents suffer from their loss and their guilt over the difficulty of helping the other children because of the weight of their own grief. Abigail, her mother, concludes that her own recovery must proceed separately from the rest of the family, and she moves away. Her physical distance makes her seem more remote to Susie’s spirit. However, she later realizes how tight the bond was with her husband; after he suffers a heart attack, she returns home.
Susie’s father, Jack, expresses grief through anger. He shows this in part by attacking things that he shared with his daughter, notably the ships in bottles. This action draws Susie’s spirit closer, and he understands that her presence continues as part of his life. Jack more than Abigail concentrates on solving the murder and tracks down clues himself. Jack’s common sense fails him as he undertakes rash actions, however, and his health suffers from the burden of grief, as he has a heart attack.
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