I imagine that writing this book was both painful--and deeply healing. Would you talk about that please?
Yes, it was both painful and healing to writing this book. It was healing in that I had to revisit some of the ideas I had come to believe as truths through this process and get more information to back them up. It has also been healing sharing the book with people and getting the validation that the book helped them to heal as that was the goal of sharing my story. Knowledge is empowering and powerful and that helped me feel even more solid in my own path. But it was also painful to write this book. Grief never leaves us, we just learn to store it and manage it. There were particular spots in the book that brought me back to very dark places in my grief. Going to those places and writing about them was critical to the honesty of the story but it was difficult for me to step out of my new normal healthy and happy state of daily being and walk back through some of the dark days. I’m glad I did because the whole point of writing the book was to offer a story through grief and out on the other side that might help others but yes, the process of writing it was painful and difficult in many regards.
One of the questions you ask is where has your daughter gone--and your answers are startlingly authentic, at least for me, and I imagine for very many people. Do you still the same way or have your feelings changed?
As I write in the book, the day that I had my ‘aha’ moment with knowing that my daughter Charlotte was in a good place, separate and yet still with me, changed my whole course of grieving and then living. Life and death, I have come to believe, are just points on a continuum. I still hold that same belief system and it is positively reinforced regularly.
What do you think is the one mistake people make about grief?
Grief is not unrelenting sorrow. There are moments of lightness and laughter and those moments are almost more difficult than the deep sorrow because they feel, especially at first, totally wrong. But our bodies and we as living and thinking beings, are wired to be resilient.
Along those lines, I think the other mistake people make about grief is that it undoes a person permanently. While grief does stay with us forever it also changes us and deepens us and leaves us wisdom as its gift. If we are open to the gifts in grief we emerge from it more solid, strong, loving and deep.
What's your writing life like now? Do you have rituals? Do you outline or just follow your muse?
I am a journaler. Most of my writing is seeking to understand. My way of exploring thoughts and ideas is usually on the page. It’s a physical exercise for me and I use a good old fashioned pen and spiral notebook. I’ll ask my self a question then sit and write non-stop for 10 minutes as a warm up and see what comes out on the page. I find my most honest writing appears that way. Some of it is not fit to be shared J
I am terribly undisciplined about my scheduled writing but my best work happens early in the morning before the kids are awake, often even before the birds are awake, when it is quiet both in the house and in my mind.
No, I do not outline. I probably should. But my writing comes from deep within and I find that if I try too hard to structure it that it is more difficult for my true voice to emerge.
What's obsessing you now and why?
I’m actually quite focused on the gifts of grief. The conversation about how we move through grief as a culture and individually is evolving. I think too much literature on the grief process in the past 60 years has been written by health professionals who are dealing with people in protracted states of grief rather than by people who have found coping skills and tools to work their way through the grief and back to a full life. There are great life lessons in grief and not a lot of time has focused on them. I don’t by any measure mean to imply that grief is easy. It is not. It is gut wrenching, and complicated, and painful, and confusing and we all go through it differently. BUT WE ALL EMERGE and I want to be a part of the underscoring of the message that we all emerge. We all are programmed to be resilient. We all survive, and thrive, and if we are open to it, we are better people, parents, partners, citizens of the world for having experienced that depth of sorrow.
What question didn't I ask that I should have?
What makes your book unique?
Are you happy? Do you believe in God?