What Would You Like Included in a Book About Grief?

It seems as if I am being pulled back into the world of grief, not because I am having upsurges of grief, but because other people are discovering my grief posts and my grief book. Also, I have been talking to friends as they go through their grief upsurges, and at the same time, I am getting emails from newly bereft people who have read Grief: The Great Yearning, a sort of memoir about my first year of grief. (I wonder if I am the only author who cries every time I get a letter from a reader. I am glad they contact me, but oh, so much sorrow!)

As if this weren’t enough of a pull, people have begun suggesting that I write another book of grief, sort of a sequel to Grief: The Great Yearning, but from the perspective of eight years later. (At one time, I’d considered doing a sequel focusing on the second, third, and maybe fourth year called Grief: The Great Learning, but I didn’t have enough to say to fill even a small book.)

This isn’t something I can start today — I need to finish that decade-old manuscript first, then I have my trip to Seattle, and finally a dance performance. But by the beginning of June, I will have cleared out all my obligations, and would have time — both calendar time and mental time — to start a new project.

If I do undertake such a project, what aspects of grief would you like to see included in the book?

Is there a particular one (or many) of my grief blog posts you’d like to see expanded for the book? (For those of you who have already offered suggestions, I will be going through the comments and emails to find those suggestions if you don’t want to repeat yourself here.)

Are there any aspects of my life, such as my penchant for adventures, that should be included? Because a need for adventure is part of the grief process, not just for me, but for many folks. It’s as if once our lives are turned upside down, only undertaking something challenging helps get us back on a new track.

By its very nature (or rather, the very nature of the author), the book won’t be a practical guide for getting through grief, won’t offer platitudes or comfort except of the roughest kind (such as telling people what they already know — that grief is impossibly hard). There are certainly enough grief self-help books on the market, and anyway, I don’t have anything to offer along those lines. I think what I do have to offer is a safe place for people to explore their own grief, maybe even offer something for them to compare themselves to. (All grief is different, but for those who have suffered the same sort of profound loss, such as the death of soul mate, grief does tend to follow the same patterns.)

I hope I’m ready for such a project. At least it will be non-fiction, so I won’t have to relive grief through my characters like I did for Unfinished. That just about did me in!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Putting Grief into Perspective

In light of all the horrors going on the world today — massive fires, floods, ghastly diseases — talking about my grief seems a bit self-indulgent. In my favor, my intent was never to get people to feel sorry for me, but merely to chronicle one woman’s journey through grief. I wanted to tell what it felt like to lose a life mate/soul mate since I’d never experienced such a massive onslaught of pain, both physical and psychical. In fact, I never even knew such hurt was possible.

Now that my pain has subsided to irritation and sensitivity, mood swings and easily hurt feelings, continuing to blog about my grief does seem a bit over the top as if I’m trying to dramatize myself. But again, that is not my intention. Grief lasts a long time and can cause much damage to the souls of the bereft if not allowed to follow a natural healing cycle, and these more petty side effects of grief are still part of the grieving process. Even when I’m mostly healed and grief assimilated into my life, there will still be the second half of the process to deal with — finding new meaning, new joy, perhaps even a new identity. And all those steps are worth chronicling.

I write this blog mostly for me (and also to show writers the truth about grief since many get it wrong), so any help other grievers glean from my writing is an added blessing. In other words, what I’m writing here in this post today is a reminder for myself of what I am trying to accomplish with these posts as well as trying to put my grieving into perspective.

Sometimes now, I am far removed from the initial pain, and I look back and wonder what the big deal was. So I lost my life mate/soul mate — others have endured such losses and not screamed their pain to the blogosphere. Was it really so hard? Um . . . yeah. It was excruciatingly difficult.

At the same time I marvel that I made such a big deal of my grief, I marvel that within two months of his death I managed to get his funerary arrangements made, his finances tied up, his “effects” and belonging disposed of, the house cleaned, our remaining possessions packed and stored, a new bank account set up, my driver’s license renewed, and make my way 1000 miles from home to look after my 95-year-old father. That’s a lot of work even for a person who isn’t grieving to do by herself. I have no idea how I managed to get all that done within such a short time, especially since I was reeling from a tsunami of agony and anger and angst.

In the two years and three months since his death, others have lost their spouses, their children, their parents, their health, their houses and all they hold dear, and my grief seems pale in comparison, but the truth is, all we can do is travel our own path. What might seem rosier in another’s life or what might seem more horrific, doesn’t change the truth of our own journey. And this is my path — following grief wherever it might lead me.