Sunday, April 10, 2016

Write Your Heart Out During Grief

For many years I have told the bereaved to sit down and write your heart out. You’ll feel better if you do. And sure enough, people have come back to me and said that it felt good to get their feelings on paper and look back at them. Some are surprised at how much they wrote, thinking they didn’t have much to say. Others felt it helped get them through the worst part of their grief. They jotted notes and recollections of a life well-lived, giving as much detail as possible. Many published what they wrote.

I remember after my daughter died, I also wrote a lot about my feelings at the time. As time passed, I realized going back and looking at it, that I would never have remembered all the anger, the devastation, and the hurt I experienced. But having it in front of me, it all came back.

I kept notes, typed them up, expanded on my thoughts, and by then had enough for the beginnings of a book. Author Martha Whitmore Hackman, said in her book “Healing After Loss,” “The important thing for most of us is not that we have made something of artistic value, but that we have taken a grief that lies like a lump against our hearts, and moved it away from us.”

I desperately wanted to know how others dealt with the death of a child and began an interviewing schedule that took two years before I had enough to compile into a book. I interviewed bereaved parents who had lost a child of any age, any background and for any reason. They told their story and how they have moved on with their lives. I then did an observation of each one and wrote a little more about some aspect of their loss. For example, if a child died of an illness and the parents decided to donate his/ her organs, I wrote about how people can get involved in organ donations.
 had no idea how to put this all together, so I went to the Maui Writer’s Conference, interviewed with agents there and got some wonderful ideas to improve what I had. There are many different conferences throughout the year that one can go to. I was told at the one I attended that a child’s death was not a topic that would appeal to enough people for a big publishing house (even though I knew the statistic that 20 percent of parents lose a child- a large statistic!).

I ended up rewriting many times, copyreading it to perfection and sent it to an online publisher, who did a great job with the art work cover and within six weeks, I had my first book on surviving grief in the market for purchase. (I wrote a second book 10 years later after finding a need for individual coping techniques in order for some to survive.)

You can do this too. Just start remembering, whether they are sad, funny or just wonderful memories, jot them down in great detail, find a direction for your thoughts, and go from there. Whether it becomes a book or just a journal to look back on is up to you.

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