Wednesday, August 10, 2016

When I Found No Solace and No Truth - Why I Wrote My Grieving Book by Claire M. Schwartz, author of Putting Out the Fire



 

Inside the Book:

Putting Out the Fire 

Title: Putting Out the Fire: Nurturing Mind, Body & Spirit in the First Week of Loss and Beyond Author: Claire M. Schwartz 
Release Date: May 1, 2015 
Publisher: Helian Press Books 
Genre: Self-Help/Grief and Bereavement 
Format: Ebook/Paperback

The phone rings - your breath falls away - and each moment becomes a lifetime. The death of someone significant in your world can rewrite the scope and breadth of who you are. But in this exact moment of decisions, questions, family stress, and legalities, what do you do first and how do you cope?

When author Claire M. Schwartz lost her mother suddenly when she was 24, she experienced this exact thought process. But with all the misinformation out there about Grief & Loss, and without tools that actually made her feel better, she fell apart. After 20+ years on her healing journey, and over two dozen more losses, she brings you the Truths that no one will tell you and the Tools to truly bring you support and clarity in the initial hours and days following a death.

In this slim and personal book, you will learn:

- How to practice Self-Care during this intense emotional time
- The Ten Tall Tales of Grief & Loss ™
- the things we get told that may be well-meaning, but can be so hurtful and destructive
- how to respond and plus compassionate ideas that will better support you
- Who to trust and who to avoid, in the near-term and the long-term
- How to manage funeral arrangements, the legal bits and all those details that can make you nuts, but must be done
- Ways to celebrate your loved one, as well as what to do when the deceased was not so loved.....
- What to focus on after the first week, and what to expect in the longer term

 We all experience loss in life - but what is very difficult to find is truthful advice that makes sense, and practical tools that anyone can use. This book tackles both, with compassion and clear practicality, with heart and with wisdom. There is no other book out there that focuses solely on this first, most-intense and exhausting period. It will support you when you need it most and get your healing journey started on the right foot.

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When I Found No Solace and No Truth - Why I Wrote My Grieving Book

It was close to midnight, March 18 into the 19th, in 1995. The phone jangled me out of a sound sleep. It was the voice of my uncle in New York, who blurted out in a matter of seconds, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but your mother has died....”

I got off the phone and let out a sound that only animals make (a sound I still hear in my mind’s eye) and the floor fell away beneath me. I couldn’t feel my arms or legs—I was probably in shock and should have been in the hospital. I couldn’t stop shaking. I slept no more that night—and the passage of time suddenly became leaden. What happened? Who do I ask? How do I DO this?

I have told more details about the weeks that followed in my book. The first few days were excruciating – endless – nightmare-filled. And my mind was in a whirl: Why do people keep asking me questions about Mom that I have no idea how to answer? Why does time feel like it is moving so sssllllooowwwwllllyyyy…? Why have I suddenly forgotten where everything is in my town? Why did I have urges to run my car into a tree? How do I respond when someone asks a terribly rude question? Why don’t all the clichés that people say make any sense, or make you feel worse?

I didn’t have time to figure out so much of it – I did the best I could with the arrangements and muddled through the rest, miraculously without hurting myself or crashing my car. But afterwards, I went in search of better ideas. I read about The Five Stages of Grief – I thumbed through dozens of books – I asked counselors and friends. And you know what I came up with?

Not a damn thing.

The Five Stages not only weren’t written for grievers, but they made no sense. They didn’t happen in order at all, I skipped back and forth between them, there were more like 27, not five, and I hated the idea of “acceptance.” What does that even mean?

The books that I picked up had so many flaws. For one thing, they were huge – sometimes more than 300 pages. I could barely focus on a single sentence, how could I possibly root around for hours to find what I needed? They also tried to cover every possible contingency of what one might go through. Again, was I supposed to keep digging until I found the three paragraphs that applied to me?
Plus they seemed to be filled with more of those platitudes and clichés what made me nuts.

So for three months after Mom’s death, I stopped working and was essentially a basket case. I still had nightmares, so I tried staying up all night. That didn’t work well, so then I resorted to drinking (really bad brandy) and watching TV for 17 hours at a time. I was going to therapy twice a week, but it wasn’t helping. My friends were all in their 20s and nobody could relate to what I was going through, so most stayed away. The ones who did show up clearly thought I had completely lost my marbles.

Eventually, I did put my life back together, changed jobs, moved to New York and reinvented everything. But I did all that with precious few answers or resources. I did finally find an excellent therapist who helped me untangle the truth of who I was, but that was many years later.

By my late 30s, more losses started to accumulate – and faster. January of 2010 began an avalanche. It initiated 30 months during which I lost my Reiki teacher, our elderly cats, several friendships, my father, the house I grew up in – plus my mentor and oldest friend, a friend my age, my best friend’s dad, a life-changing health diagnosis – and other less tangible things – time, opportunities, the chance to have kids – so much more. I could scarcely catch my breath after one before another arose. And all along, I found no answers, no support, nothing that truly reflected what grievers experience or how to take care of one’s sanity in the maelstrom.

Finally in 2013, I lost my job. I was actually remarkably calm, as I had wanted to devote myself to my healing practice full time. But it also gave me the space to really search for the answers I needed. When I didn’t find that the culture had learned much in nearly 20 years, I decided to just write the book myself.

My goal has been to address that first week that no one writes about. I wanted to tell the truth about what it feels like, what works, what doesn’t, how to care for yourself, and how to deal with the careless comments and ideas that come your way. And the lovely thing was, after working through things for so long, the ideas tumbled out and the pages filled on their own. I strived to make it concise and practical, compassionate and personal. I do hope it helps you or someone you care about.

Meet the Author:

Claire M. Schwartz is from the Detroit suburbs and comes from a place she calls The Dark Ugly™. She lived in a lovely town, went to a private school for gifted kids, and had cultured and educated parents. Yet Grief & Loss have followed her as long as she can remember - trauma, violence, & neglect - loss of safety and security, loss of confidence, loss of grandparents, friends and animal companions, loss of health, opportunity and sense of place in the world. The pivot point of her life was the sudden death of her mother in 1995, which changed her world forever. Yet recovery was painstakingly slow, wrapped up in misinformation, confusion and more pain. After years of therapy, failures and mistakes, her life's goal has been to find the answers that made no sense when her healing journey began. Now more than 20 years and 30+ losses on, she is bringing all that she has learned into one slim and powerful volume, in the hope that you suffer less than she did on her healing quest.

Claire holds a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan, is a Spiritual Counselor, Reiki Master Teacher, Certified Professional Coach and Interfaith Minister. She is happily married in New Jersey, surrounded by cats, great food and the best of friends.

You can visit her website at http://www.YouCanHealYourGrief.com
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