In August 2020, Tim, a fellow Psychologist posted in one of my favourite Facebook groups to ask if anyone fancied taking part in a book writing challenge. More specifically, ‘Does anyone fancy writing and publishing an entire book in a month?’ Now, for anyone who knows me, you’ll know that I love a challenge, and for a number of reasons this was one I just couldn’t resist!
I knew immediately which book it was I would ‘write’ in a month. When my dad was palliatively ill and in the time after he passed, I used to speak to a number of people about how I was feeling. I affectionately called these people my ‘Dead Dad Club!’ It felt like a club because I tended to get much better containment and support and discussion from these people who were already ‘in the club’ and understood grief. However, I knew that the book would hopefully go on to feature a wide variety of different loss stories from parents, children, siblings, colleagues, friends, even much-loved pets. I knew it was never going to be a book ‘just’ about ‘Dead Dads,’ although of course there are a fair sprinkling of those within these pages too. In terms of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (often known as ACT), it can be useful to be frank about topics because there’s less ambiguity and less room to hide. Loss doesn’t get any easier by packaging it in fancy words. However, I know that we’re all at a different stage on our ‘grief club’ journeys and that the concept of grief is not always about death! So it was that my book: ‘The Grief Collective: Stories of life, Loss and Learning to Heal’, was born. It does what it says on the tin. It still suggests the ‘club’ element but also encompasses different types of grief; not all of the grief in the book features death.
Whilst my ideas for the book were already formed, it is only the challenge which gave me the impetus to actually ‘put pen to paper.’ Well, that bit about a pen is of course a creative lie – the whole thing was edited, written and collated on my laptop. My handwriting is dreadful and if I’d had to personally scribe it with my trusty ballpoint I’d have needed about 3 years even just to decode what I’d said on the first page let alone get it published in a month! An assistant psychologist friend once proudly presented me with a handwriting pen. I was excited for a moment, but nope, it didn’t help! I’m thankful for computers which make book creation and calls to action a much simpler process.
So it was, that in September 2020 I started asking for grief case studies on my Good Thinking Psychological Services social media channels. I created a ‘grief brief’ which explained the project and gave details about what I was hoping might be achieved with the book. However, the description was deliberately non-specific. The emphasis was very much on how important it was to hear each individual’s own unique experience of grief. When someone expressed an interest in contributing to the project, I sent them ‘the grief brief’ and asked them to put something together if they would like to. The only caveat being that it had to be ready before the end of the month! The case studies, or ‘stories’ as they’re referred to in the book, started to come in. When I began to read them I was so humbled and honoured that people had put them together because I asked them to and that they were so willing to share them with me, to share them with our readers! It’s honestly one of my greatest privileges in life so far. I also think that it demonstrates my point that once you’re in ‘the club’ that you just know how to talk to others about grief and that it’s in fact okay to talk about and important that we do. I began to get even more excited about what a potentially useful resource for people on their own unique grief journeys the book would be.
Each story is wonderful and they’re all their own. I edited them and changed some of the order and the flow and tidied up the odd typo here or there and asked for clarification in some areas. But you can really hear each person’s individual voice and writing style including in one story the word ‘cwtch’ which is Welsh for cuddle or hug!
I’m pleased to report that with a lot of hard work, I rose to the challenge and the book: The Grief Collective: Stories of Life, Loss & Learning to Heal’ was published on 5/10/2020. I’m so proud of the book and I think it’s a wonderful legacy for my adored Father who was always happy to chat to others. People are already starting to benefit from the normalising and validating experiences of ‘The Collective’ and I’m excited to see how the book and its following continues to grow. There’s never been a timelier occasion than 2020 for us all to come together in our grief.
To read more information about the book or to buy a copy in either paperback or eBook formats head to: https://amzn.to/37gvSKZ You can also follow the book on the Facebook page The Grief Collective Book or from the Good Thinking Psychological Services Page.