Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Anne-Marie Lockmyer, author of When Their World Stops: The Essential Guide to TRULY Helping Anyone in Grief
FQ: Can you tell readers what pushed you to write this book? Was it a single moment or words that made you want to talk about how a person can better help another? And what are your hopes/goals in regards to what this book will do for others who are grieving?
LOCKMYER: After my own experience the first year after losing my husband, I found myself constantly saying "Someone needs to write a pamphlet on how to deal with grieving people." People were awkward and fearful with me. They didn't know what to say or they would say the wrong thing. And after the memorial service, they had no idea how to help me. I saw them all stumbling and was often hurt. It wasn't because they didn't care. It was because they didn't know what to do. I behaved just as they did before my husband died. You don't know unless you have experienced it. I wanted to give them the knowledge and tools they desperately needed, so they could come alongside the grieving person and make things better, not worse.
So, I decided to write about it and thought it would be a pamphlet. As I wrote, it became a book because there was so much to say, especially when you are dealing with different types of losses.
FQ: You speak briefly about a “grief group.” Can you tell readers the pros/cons and/or recommendations you would have in regards to attending such a group?
LOCKMYER: For me, a grief group saved my life. To be with people who TRULY understood and I didn't have to pretend with - who could handle and share my pain. The tools and support they gave me were invaluable. I felt so safe there.
I don't believe a grief group is for everyone. It depends on the person. And not all grief groups are the same. I went to a group called Griefshare. They are all over. The first one I went to was close to my house but I didn't click at all with that group. So I tried another one - and it was just right for me. Same content but different people. So I would encourage those who are interested check more than one out if they don't feel comfortable in the first one.
I have spoken with people who never went to a grief group and those who went two years after the loss. It is never too late. I was in one within a few weeks as I was so desperate.
FQ: What was/is the one thing given to you during that horrible time that you still cherish to this day? Whether it be gift, advice, etc.
LOCKMYER: Great question. The Blanket of Comfort is probably the second most cherished and I speak about that below. The most cherished item of all was a silver heart necklace with my husband's fingerprint on it. I got it when I was picking out the container for my husband's ashes at the mortuary. They took his fingerprint and kept it on file in case I need it in the future. I also got a keychain for my son with his dad's fingerprint, and a quote his dad always said. Whenever I touch the heart and feel the grooves of his fingerprint, I feel like I am touching him - holding his hand. Like he is always with me. I have included a picture of it.
FQ: Will you be continuing this journey in the writing world by putting together other guides/books in the future on other topics?
LOCKMYER: Yes. I plan to write another book about grief, sharing specific stories of people who have suffered different types of losses. Reading these will really help someone understand what they are experiencing.
The other area that is so close to my heart is mental illness, as my grown son struggles with it. As my experience with grief has changed the way I look at it, the same thing has happened with my experience with mental illness. I see people in a way I never saw them before. I see people I never paid attention to before. Most people don't know how to react to a person suffering mental illness, in the same way, they do not know how to react to someone grieving. The rejection and judgement these struggling people experience is beyond belief.
FQ: What made you put together the Appendix offering information on other areas of grief/loss?
LOCKMYER: There are so many resources out there that can be of help and encouragement. Most people just don't know where or what they are. I want to make it easy for people to find all the help they need. And it will be different for each person.
FQ: Could you talk to readers about the “Blankets of Comfort?”
LOCKMYER: One day, a box showed up at my door. When I opened it, there was a beautiful handmade blanket that my friend made just for me. It was a comfort blanket. Something to cling to when I was crying or wrap myself in when I needed a hug. It was priceless to me! I slept with it and often, still do. There is something so soothing about it. It is more than just a regular blanket. It is one of the most helpful and cherished items I have ever received in my entire life. Since it touched me so deeply, I have since made them for friends who are suffering for various reasons and they are greatly welcomed. You can't explain it until you have had one.
FQ: Your website is lovely. Can you speak about www.ComfortForTheHurting.com and what additions may be made in the future?
LOCKMYER: Thank you. It is relatively new and I am still building it. I have added some video tips on how to help those grieving and will continue to add more. I am creating some products to make it easy to encourage the grieving. I am also setting the site up to offer consultations as a grief partner - to come alongside those who are grieving or those that love them. Sometimes, talking to someone who has been there can be confirming and comforting. Or a family needs guidance in knowing what to do - especially as time goes on. I find, one of the most popular times for someone to want to speak to me, is a year after the loss. Only one who has experienced it knows what they are feeling then, and it can be very reassuring to them.
FQ: Do you speak at events? And do you receive mail from others through your website in regards to dealing with their own losses?
LOCKMYER: Yes, I do. It is an honor any time I am able to help others by preparing them ahead of time to deal with a loss, or by comforting and encouraging them after.
I am surprised at the notes, emails and calls I get from people who have read the book and what it has meant to them. Those who feel helpless, now feel empowered to come alongside their grieving friend (and often say, "Boy, did I ever mess up before I read this!), and those who are grieving seem to find it confirming that they are experiencing the same thing I did. I didn't write it for the grieving person so was quite surprised how much they seem to like it.
FQ: If you had to give only one piece of advice on this subject, what would it be that you most wish readers will take away from this?
LOCKMYER: There is no wrong way to grieve. Everyone does it differently. Do not judge. They will hurt for a long, long time - years! Don't try to fix it. Just be there and say little. Do more, talk less. And don't forget like everyone else does.
FQ: Thank you for your time. I want to say on a personal note that currently I am taking care of my mom. My father was lost in 2001, and she misses him terribly. The holidays are the worst, it seems, but your book offered her some help/comfort, and gave me more understanding. Thank you for that.
LOCKMYER: Thank you for the kind words Amy.
To learn more about When Their World Stops: The Essential Guide to TRULY Helping Anyone in Grief please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.