It’s been a long time since The Long Grief Journey was picked up by Sourcebooks and I owe a debt of gratitude to the wonderful editor who saw the value in making our work available to people and helping us to shape it and edit it well- thank you Erin! In the last year, the waiting for the book to come to print was starting to make it all feel a little bit unreal, and a little scary and then a little disorienting- wait, we’re almost at the release date?! I need to get a new outfit or something! But now, holding the book in my hands, I remember it all: the first invitation to join Pam in the project, the jumping into researching and brainstorming and writing, rewriting and collaborating, submitting and waiting and hoping and praying and now… here it is. And I am proud. Grateful and maybe even a little bewildered, too. To be able to use my own grief experience while being honored by so many people sharing their stories with us has in many ways brought an intimacy and more open heart to my day to day than ever existed before. Maybe the word is humbled? My heart feels tenderized.
If you end up reading the book, I hope you find it useful. We really are all walking this road together.
It’s a pleasure to write to you on this All Soul’s Day. I’ve got rather big news to share, and it’s in large part why I’ve been so mum over here on this blog of mine that I love so much. Some major things have been happening in my world. The one I’d love to tell you about on this day in particular, is that a book about grief I’ve been co-writing for about a year and a half was picked up by the wonderful publisher Sourcebooks. My friend and co-author Pam Blair and I couldn’t be happier. This is a book about grief over the long term, and how it can express itself in a life. There’s a little back story here. Interested?
Pamela D. Blair co-authored “I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One” with Brook Noel upwards of twenty years ago. It’s gone on to become a classic in bereavement self-help and is very useful when you are in the throes of chaotic early grief. Well, Pam and I are friends and have been for several years now. We met in the Knitting for Peace Pod I started here in Vermont and it was during one of our gatherings that I learned she also wrote a favorite book of mine called “The Next Fifty Years: A Guide for Women at Midlife and Beyond”(I highly recommend this book, too!). Anyway, fast forward a little bit, and I became a member of Pam’s writing group, and I loved it. I had to drop out of it, though, because my mother very suddenly died and I was completely wrecked. For years. I just couldn’t handle a whole lot for a long time. But, in the midst of all of that, Pam and I developed a friendship and continued to talk a lot about grief. Put two therapists together and there’s no end to what we could talk about when it comes to the complexities of being human.
I guess sometimes conversations lead to more conversations which lead to more things. At the beginning of the pandemic, Pam and I had a Zoom lunch just to check in, and she asked me if I’d be interested in co-writing a book with her about the long-lasting impact of grief. It was an immediate Yes. Yes because by then, I understood what that was like. Yes because Pam is a friend and I was so happy she considered me for the project. And Yes because I’ve learned to move towards all those things called dreams. I’ve always had a dream of being a writer. I write all the time, so it felt natural. The only reason I’d say no was fear, and if I learned anything from my mother’s death, it was to not say no to dreams. Say yes and see what happens.
Well, what has happened is, we have this book coming out in 2022, and we are in the early stages of big editing. It’s exciting, scary, a lot of work and requires ongoing soul searching. It’s a constant touchstone for me… Why write this book?
I think anyone who has suffered the loss of someone they love knows why books on long-lasting grief are important. Even though there is messaging out there that grief lasts a long time, it seems that we’ve, as a culture, internalized a certain schedule by which we need to pretty well be over it enough to not be talking about the pain we are in. In my experience as a therapist, and as a griever, that’s just not how it goes. Without there being ways we can keep our loved ones alive in our hearts and lived experience, grief simply goes underground, and we often tend to our sore spots alone. Or, sometimes we don’t know that other issues we have connect directly to the original wound of loss.
It would be easy for me to go on and on and on… but I’ll save that for the book! In the meantime, I invite you to join me in the conversation either through comments here, or via personal message. Our book came to life when we added real voices, real stories, and wisdom from people who are traversing the long road of grief themselves. If you’d like to share your story with me, I’d welcome it.
In the meantime, I’ll be sitting here, sending love to all those people who have passed away in our family, some of whom I knew, love and miss terribly, others who I never met but if not for them, I’d not be here today.