When you write a book you don’t get to design the cover, and I was nervous putting this aspect in someone else’s hands. But then I opened the box filled with my complimentary copies. At last, the finished product. Oolala, much more colorful and cheerful than I imaged. Writing about grief and loss in a positive way had been a challenge all along, and it was important to make the book about this heavy subject uplifting. Perfect.
Offering solace to anyone coping with the heartache of loss, whatever kind it is, makes me happy. And I revisit the subject periodically because that sense of loss is coming and going in all of our lives all the time. You never know when you’ll need a boost. I need my own boost often.
The kind of loss on my mind lately is divorce. It’s #2 on the list of life’s most stressful events, the death of a spouse is #1. The subject is in the media all the time, but the word “divorce” is little more than a statistic to those of us who are still coupled with our original loves. The truth is, you really can’t know the ripple effect this decision has if it doesn’t affect you personally.
Even though loss through death is on the top of the list, sometimes the loss of a relationship can be harder. There’s rejection to deal with on top of everything else. An earthquake suddenly rocks a comfortable life when your heart gets broken, and the ripple effect touches children, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and in-laws. Life has to be upside down for a while as everyone readjusts: from not having dad in the house anymore to wondering if it’s all your fault. From losing the son or daughter you’d embraced as your own, to worrying whether you’ll ever see your grandchildren again. And what about the special occasions the family used to celebrate together? What happens now? There’s a lot, but there’s hope.
Writing It Down Takes the Charge Out of Emotions.
Since words are my passion, I’m passing on a few from my book. Emerging from the Heartache of Loss is a little book that’s easy to read at a time when easy is all you have the energy for. This excerpt is about “journaling”, which is just a fancy word for writing your thoughts and feelings down. Enjoy…
“You don’t have to be good with words to write them down. Just pick the ones that apply to you and arrange them any way you please. All that counts is letting it out. Writing a letter (whether you mail it or not) diffuses anger… at your parents, your sweet child, Mother Nature, God, or the one who left you when you weren’t ready.
Writers already know this secret weapon of dumping words onto the page. They use it as a tool to jumpstart their own word play. Poetry buffs already realize that stanzas are most always fed by the poet’s heart… whether it’s aching, jumping for joy, or pounding with rage.
You don’t have to be a writer to benefit from dumping your mental junk. The idea is to hot-wire your creative mind at the start of every day.
Journaling is liberating—you don’t have to explain anything to anybody. Journals don’t judge or ask questions. They won’t admonish you for the shameful thoughts you wrote about the day before. Putting your thoughts down on paper, no matter how out of control they seem, helps dissolve anger or sadness or fear. And writing things down that you want to say but probably shouldn’t stop you from saying something you might regret tomorrow.”
Letting it out — kind words, angry words, wrenching words — can help you heal. Scribbling emotions on the page opens the door and lets them out of your head and your heart. If words don’t come easily, drawing pictures of how you feel works just as well. Relief is surprising.
Maybe one day you’ll have a harder time thinking of something to write about. Maybe that’s when grief is starting to fade.
SECRET: When strong emotions grip you, grab a pen. Keep a little pad by the bed and by the chair you sit in for morning coffee. Even if the idea that writing stuff down can relieve such sadness sounds ridiculous to you, what have you got to lose? Any port in the storm.