A collection of book reviews, releases and stories of authors and great books.
Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One by Pat Bertram
What inspired you to write this book?
When Jeff, my life mate/soul mate died, I was completely unprepared for the depth and breadth of my grief. I had never felt such pain, pain that escalated by the minute. I never even knew such pain existed. How could I? I’d grieved the deaths of my mother and my younger brother, but what I felt after Jeff died in no way resembled those earlier bouts of grief.
I started writing about grief not only to make sense of my own feelings but also as a rebellion against a society that reveres happiness at all costs. There is something dreadfully wrong with a society that expects the bereft to hide their grief after a couple of months simply because it makes people uncomfortable to see outward shows of mourning. Seeing grief makes people realize how ephemeral their lives really are, and they can’t handle it (which leaves the bereft, who already feel isolated, totally alone with their sorrow.) It also cracks the façade of our relentlessly glass-half-full society.
People who are grieving often find comfort in the truth about grief and how long it takes because it matches what they feel and it makes them feel not so alone. And so, after years of dealing with my own grief and that of my widowed blog readers, I wrote the book "Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One" to help explain the grief process both to grievers and those who want to understand what their grieving friends are going through.
The earliest incidents you recall from your life where you first felt you had a writer in you?
I loved books from the moment I learned to read, and I often wrote stories and poems, so I always thought I would be a writer. When I quit a job in my early twenties to start my first book, I sat at the table, pen in hand, and not a single word appeared on the page. I thought that meant I wasn't a writer, but it only meant I wasn't a natural. It saddened me to have this dream die, but I resurrected it in later years, thinking that no matter how horrible a writer I was, I wanted to write. Although I still can't sit down and wait for the words to appear (I need to dig each one out of the depths of my brain), I have learned to write not just for me but for those who need to hear what I have to say.
Who do you think are the ideal readers for this book?
The perfect readers for "Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One" are grievers, of course, especially widows and widowers and those who don't find comfort in the platitudes that are so often forced upon the grieving. Although people who aren't grieving tend not to read books about grief, "Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One" is a book people need to read, especially now when so many people are reaching an age when death becomes more common. Because of longer lifespans, it's rare for anyone to have experience with death until later in life, so people are unfamiliar with grief, don’t know what to expect, and don’t have the life skills to cope with the death of a loved one. "Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One" helps people make sense of this chaotic thing we call grief.
What changed in your life most noticeably after you became an author?
I became more confident. When you think you can't do something, and then you learn how to do it, it gives one a great feeling of confidence and accomplishment. In the case of my grief writing, I also became connected to other people going through grief, which helped give me a renewed sense of purpose.
What kind of schedules you had while doing this book? How many hours did it all take?
"Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One" was a painful book to write because it was written eight years after the death of my life mate/soul mate, and it dredged up so much of the agony and angst of the early years of grief. So basically, I wrote it in fits and starts. Usually, I wrote for hours every day, but sometimes I had to take a break because I simply could not handle revisiting my grief.
What's the one great hack from your journey of becoming an author that you can share with other authors?
To write a single word. Many novice writers get intimidated by the thought of writing an entire book, but all you ever need to write is one word. I know that’s not much of a goal, but in the end, it is the only goal. That’s how every book all through the ages got written — one word at a time. By stringing single words together, you get sentences, then paragraphs, pages, chapters, an entire book.
Who are the 5 people you would like to acknowledge & thank that mattered most on your journey to becoming an author?
I'd like to thank Jeff, my life mate/soul mate because he believed in me, encouraged me, and inspired me. I need to thank the editor for "Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One" because he was instrumental in getting me to write the book, and he helped keep me on track. (He wishes to be anonymous.) But other than those two, there are too many people to name because every person I have encountered on my writing journey, especially fellow grievers, have also inspired me, not just to be a better writer, but to be a better person. Grief reduces people to essentials, to a struggle to find meaning and hope in a world that feels suddenly meaningless and hopeless. These people all matter to me. Their grief journeys matter.
Your personal favorite inspiring quote of your own?
Despite what people want us to believe, grief is not the problem. The problem is that the one person we loved more than any other was ripped from our lives, leaving behind a gaping wound, an amputation of some vital part of us. Grief is how we learn to live with that hole in our life.
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An advice for all other aspiring writers
The best writing advice I ever received and would like to pass on is something I read in an old book called The Practical Stylist by Sheridan Baker: “Clarity is the first aim; economy the second; grace the third; dignity the fourth. Our writing should be a little strange, a little out of the ordinary, a little beautiful with words and phrases not met every day, but seeming as right and natural as grass.”
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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 23rd July 2020.