My latest book released this week. It’s called I’m Not a Mourning Person: Braving Loss, Grief, and the Big Messy Emotions That Happen When Life Falls Apart. The title came to me in a flash one morning and felt so representative of my own journey (and likely yours).
I never wanted to be a “mourning person.”
I spent years trying to run from the big, scary feelings explored in this book: loss, sadness, anger, fear, and the rest of the unpleasant posse that rolls in when the sh*t hits the fan. And hit the fan it did.
A few years ago, my whole world fell apart. My father was dying, my business was faltering, and I was on the verge of my twenty-year anniversary of living with Stage IV cancer. Like you, I was also muddling through a global pandemic and the social, political, and economic upheaval that would follow. Did I mention perimenopause? I was definitely not OK.
I could no longer shove down my big feelings.
(Besides, shove anything down long enough, and it’s sure to pop back up in less productive and more destructive ways.)
So I decided to try something different: I stopped and faced my feelings instead. Eager to find a framework that resonated, I began researching how grief and other difficult emotions affect our brains, bodies, and lives. And I began braving the rougher terrain of my own heart. Here’s what I discovered: our messy emotions can teach us how to be free––not free from pain but free from the fear of pain and the barrier it creates to fully living.
Consider this book a field guide for navigating through hard times and finding your way back to yourself. It’s available in stores everywhere this week (click here for a full list). And if you’ve been wondering if it’s right for you, here’s an exclusive sneak peek at what’s waiting for you inside.
PEEK INSIDE EVERY CHAPTER OF “I’M NOT A MOURNING PERSON”
Chapter 1. I’m Not OK
“Being OK starts with acknowledging that, in fact, you are not OK.
So often we miss this step or avoid the truth of how we actually are. There’s so much pressure to be grrreat!—happy, wise, and in control—that we have a hard time sitting with our internal reality. Instead, we cover up angst by racing forward, looking for people, things, and solutions outside ourselves––as if we are problems to be fixed. In truth, we are not broken. We do not need fixing. We just need loving.”
Chapter 2. The Rupture
“Have you ever had a moment of seeing your worst fears realized? Most of us have, at some point. A needle off the record of your life. Your world crumbling into a million disconnected puzzle pieces. A situation that is such a clusterf*ck that at first glance you’re positive it can’t be fixed. And if by some miracle you can make it better, you will surely never be the same. This is what I call ‘the rupture.’ But I’m here to tell you that even the worst ruptures can reveal a road map to our next chapter.”
Chapter 3. Fear & Anxiety
“I used to think that anxiety just came naturally to me. You know how some people are born with amazing voices or athletic prowess? Well, I was born to worry. Like many women I know, my mind is built to solve problems and seek solutions. But two things can be true at once. A strength can also be a weakness when taken to the extreme.
Some researchers believe that chronic anxiety can not only harm your brain—it can become addictive, like a drug. The more we fuel it, the more anxious we get, and the more we turn to unhealthy behaviors to reduce our anxiety. It’s a never-ending cycle that wears us down, shrinks our resilience, and makes our lives way smaller than they need to be. It’s time to find a way out.”
Chapter 4. Becoming Unbecoming
“Anger is especially common in the face of loss. We act out instead of crying out, because anger feels powerful, while grief feels powerless. But anger is also taboo, especially misunderstood and vilified for women. We’re socialized to use minimizing language, keep the peace, and be deferential. But no one can be an emotional shock absorber forever. All that energy has to go somewhere. Anger isn’t a character defect to avoid. It’s a blinking red light telling us that something is not OK. (And the same is true for our other “unbecoming” emotions.)”
Chapter 5. Grief & Trauma: The Golden Repair
“There’s an ancient Japanese art called kintsukuroi, which translates to “golden repair.” When pottery breaks, instead of being thrown out, the piece is lovingly repaired with gold leaf hand-painted over every crack and crevice. As a result, what was damaged becomes unique and more beautiful—“a conversation piece,” as my grandma would say.
We, too, are more beautiful as a result of our once-broken, now-mended parts. And whatever caused the crack—such as neglect, betrayal, abuse, trauma, loss, or death—the process of repair begins with grieving. Allowing ourselves to feel is the gold that makes us whole again.”
Chapter 6. Acceptance
“As it relates to grief and loss, acceptance is about recognizing that life has changed, and we can no longer go back to what was. While we don’t have to like it, here we are in a newly emerging reality. Acceptance isn’t passive; it’s defiant. It’s a way to rebel against shutting down, living in a destructive fantasyland, or losing hope. In a world that encourages quick fixes and black-and-white thinking, acceptance teaches us the expansive and revolutionary power of embracing the gray and all that comes with it. If you can do that, you can do anything, my friend.”
Chapter 7. Rest in Love
“Within a few weeks, Dad would be cremated. Yet here he was, caring for his pores and himself. Not because he wanted to look good for anyone else but because he wanted to look and feel good for himself.
It made me think of those Tibetan sand mandalas. A team of Buddhist monks tirelessly work building colorful geometric sand designs in intricate detail. The mandalas represent many things, including our journey from ignorance to enlightenment. Once the mandala is done, and the ceremonies and public viewings are over, the monks destroy the beautiful work of art by sweeping it away—signifying that nothing lasts forever.
In this way, our bodies are like mandalas, too. Beautiful. Intricate. Full of wisdom, and, despite their fragility, worthy of spiffyness until our very last breath.”
Chapter 8. Beyond the Stars
“In grief, we often focus on what (or who) is no longer there in front of us. We naturally notice the absence of the person we love. A bed or chair they no longer occupy. Clothes that still hold their scent but hang empty day after day. Special moments like holidays or birthdays, where their nearness is so deeply missed. My eyes can still find those places, years later. Observing the absence of Dad and, if I’m not careful, telling my heart he’s just gone. But that’s not what I want to believe. So I ask my eyes to see his presence, instead of just his absence.
It’s like turning your life into a treasure hunt. Look for signs each day of the ways you are being offered love, joy, peace, and reassurance. Look for the continuity of the love. It’s still there. The goodness is still with you, just as real and sacred as the grief. You just have to keep searching for signs and say a silent Thank you whenever you see them.”
Chapter 9. Awkward Times, Awkward People
“Let’s be real, it’s frickin’ hard to know what to do or say when someone you love is in pain. It’s also hard to know and ask for what you need when you’re the one who’s struggling. And because this rocky terrain is rarely traversed, it’s easy to slip and unintentionally do or say insensitive things. This chapter, filled with tips and real-world scenarios, is meant to help both people who are grieving as well as those who love and care for them. My hope is that we all emerge feeling a little more prepared, a little less awkward, and a lot more forgiving—of ourselves and each other.”
Chapter 10. Love is Love, Grief is Grief
“The bond between animals and their humans is real, so when an animal dies and their daily dose of unconditional love becomes a memory, it’s brutal. Unfortunately, a lot of the grief literature and resources out there often overlook pet loss, or pay minimal lip service to it. But our furry, feathered, and scaly babies deserve better. And so do we.
With that in mind, this chapter is for anyone who’s ever felt sheepish about grieving something deemed “not significant.” The loss of a parent or grandparent who “lived a long life.” (It’s not childish to be shattered when you lose your elders, no matter how old they are.) The devastation of a miscarriage. (You’re not “overreacting.” The moment you decided to conceive your connection began.) Just as there is no hierarchy of love, the same is true of grief.”
Chapter 11. Self-Care in the Storm
“In difficult times, you’re inevitably going to be more depleted. Nurturing yourself, in even the smallest ways, will help you become more stress-hardy. That’s why I teach simple practices to support what I call the Five Pillars of Wellness: the five areas that will have the biggest impact on your well-being
But let’s get one thing clear: no one is expecting you to embark on a full-blown lifestyle makeover. Perfection sucks the life force right out of you. It kicks your batteries in the balls. Ouch! Don’t do that. Instead, let your new self-care mantra be this: ‘It’s good enough.’ Good enough creates momentum. Good enough allows you to implement better habits. Good enough keeps you from quitting on yourself. Good enough is likely all you’ve got right now, and, well, it’s good enough.”
Chapter 12. Listening to Your Life
“Hold fast to the courage needed to let all of yourself be loved—that’s the lesson I’ve learned time and time again from my many ruptures. Don’t avoid the parts of yourself that ask for the most tenderness. The so-called ugly parts that need to be witnessed and held. Like it or not, we’re all complicated beings who share one common thread: a need to love and be loved.
Loving ourselves and others through the good times and devastating times is what life is all about. In fact, there’s no greater success to achieve. Ultimately, love not only showed me how to grieve—it showed me how to live.”
I’M NOT A MOURNING PERSON IS IN STORES NOW!
I hope these excerpts have given you a sense of the goodness waiting for you inside I’m Not a Mourning Person. And I hope this book will be a source of comfort for anyone suffering from any loss.
I hate that we have to do this.
I’d much rather watch our favorite Netflix series or make paninis or go shopping for new throw pillows, but here we are. The truth is, you wouldn’t be exploring this book (and I wouldn’t have written it) if life didn’t kick us in the choppers. We’d be on a beach somewhere sipping a colada. And we’ll likely do that again, but first, we’ve got some heart tending to do together.
So, I invite you to be my co-pilot on this healing trip as we tour some of the most difficult and treasured parts of life: grieving and loving, stumbling and flying, living and dying. I’ll bring the snacks, flashlights, and bandages. You bring the sensible shoes.
All my love,