This weekend I shared some of the private, insider details behind the making of my new book with my newsletter subscribers. If you’re not on my list, I invite you to join. Every Sunday I send a “brunch” email filled with info and teachings I only share there.
Today I’m going to share some of this with you, too. Plus, I’ve included a sneak peek of some of the writing from the book! (And I don’t just mean the pic above where Tot was supervising my page edits. There’s an actual excerpt for you below.)
I’m Not A Mourning Person: Braving Loss, Grief and the Big Messy Emotions That Happen When Life Falls Apart, is my best attempt to bring yet another taboo subject into the light for healing. Think of it like a roadmap for what to expect when you’re not expecting your world to fall apart. It’s filled with my rawest stories and experiences, as well as the tools and practices that helped me through my darkest hours.
But allow me to let you in on the little secret I shared with my subscribers…
I RESISTED writing this book.
Partly, because I was resisting doing this work myself. So I tried to write a catchy “You’ve Got This! Now Go Out There and Get ‘Em!” type of book, instead… That did not go well, lol.
I felt like a geriatric cheerleader who needed a tube of Bengay, some gin, and a nap.
Every time I sat with myself something deeper came out. I’d find myself writing about grief, trauma, and rage. Of death and spirituality. And finally, of the new life (and self) that can emerge from suffering, as well as the unexpected joy we can excavate from our mourning.
One of my first book orderers, Vanessa, called this process “alchemizing painful experiences.” Such a beautiful description.
(A huge Thank You to Vanessa and everyone else who’s ordered the book. I’m deeply grateful. Leaving a review when you order my book is such a gift to me since it will encourage bookshops to stock more copies so this work can reach more people. Thanks for helping to make that happen!)
In the end, this book changed me.
It grew me up and down—creating deeper roots and a stronger foundation for my own ongoing healing.
You see, I didn’t want to be a “mourning person.” I’ve never wanted to go anywhere near those feelings. And yet… denying them, pushing them down, and pretending only made my heart heavier (and my health worse.) So I stopped. I sat with my feelings and I eventually found the pearls in the pain.
Now I am inviting you to take this journey with me.
Everywhere people are reassessing their values as they come to terms with loss—loss of their loved ones, loss of security, or loss of an old way of life. Whatever the reason, we all deal with loss at some point in our lives, yet many of us don’t know how to talk about it or tend to our hearts when we need care.
In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak from the introduction…
Never Let Them See You Grieve
Only cry in the shower. No one will see you, and you won’t wreck your mascara.
This bit of wisdom was given to me by a family friend when my father was dying.
At the time, overwhelmed by emotion and desperately trying to maintain some semblance of control, I thought it was a brilliant tip. Not only did I attempt to follow this guideline—I also added a few of my own. Things like: Stuff yourself into the nearest closet and scream into a pillow (or any dense fabric that muffles agony). Dig your nails into your palms so the physical pain overrides your emotional distress. Think gruesome thoughts to distract yourself from your grueling feelings. These strategies worked for a while, until my pent-up sorrow took on a life of its own, refusing to abide by any rules.
I remember the exact moment the dam broke. My dad had just received news that his cancer was progressing, and there were no more treatment options. Numb from the arresting prognosis, I walked through the aisles of my local drugstore, having offered to run an errand to pick up more Ensure—the only nourishment he could stomach. I stood frozen, staring at the chocolate-flavored protein drinks, incapable of deciding how many to buy. Will he live long enough for a case, or should I just stick to the four-packs?
That question hit me hard. An emotional tsunami was about to unleash itself on me and all the innocent shoppers in my immediate vicinity.
Shit! Here come my feelings. And no shower in sight. I blinked heavily through the checkout line, fighting back the deluge of tears that were mere seconds away, until I could rush to the safety of my car and sob uncontrollably. Let me tell you: the parking lot at CVS is no shower stall. My once-compartmentalized grief was now on full display. Hunched over my steering wheel in a teary puddle, I happened to notice an older woman, probably coming to fetch a prescription or buy toilet paper, glancing my way. She could plainly see what I’d been so desperate to hide: I was a full-blown mess.
After the remains of my mascara finished streaming down my face, I felt a sense of relief—similar to when medicine kicks in, giving you a break from a hallucinogenic fever. I’d somehow overlooked how cleansing it could be to let my feelings rip. After this happened a few more times (shout-out to Home Depot and their decision to pipe Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” through their stereo system), I’d started to realize that these breaks helped me survive. They made me realize that the only way through my sadness was to allow the waves of big feelings to move through my body—something I’d been hell-bent on avoiding, for fear I would drown.
If embracing my intense emotions helped me feel even the slightest bit better, why had I been so determined to avoid them? And given how all-encompassing these hints of catharsis felt, I couldn’t help but wonder, Where else in my life have I been avoiding grief? Did that avoidance have anything to do with the strange existential angst that had been creeping up on me over the last few years, where I sensed that I was not, in fact, living as fully as I could be?
The more I thought about it, the instinct to avoid grief made perfect sense to me. As well-meaning as my family friend’s advice was, Keep that mascara intact, honey was not going to help me heed my soul’s call to grow. For that, I would need to surrender to my grief and other big emotions.
If you’d like to keep reading, you can order your copy of the book right here. And for a limited time, you’ll receive some special bonus support…
In the meantime, I’m sending you so much love. May we become more grief-literate and learn how to better tend our hearts in these sacred, searing moments.
All my love,