October 3, 2023

How Becoming an Author Has Aided My Own Healing Journey

Nick's first blog detailing how writing has become a large part of his life after helping him through the greiving process.

How Becoming an Author Has Aided My Own Healing Journey

If you would have told me four and half years ago that I would become an author, I would have said you were crazy.  You see, writing is not something that ever came easily to me.  It takes a lot of energy for me to put pen to paper and get my thoughts out.

That was until my son William died.

I am an introvert, and my process of grieving was focused deeply inward.  I had a visceral need to make meaning out of this tragedy and glean any insights from it that I could.  I spent hours meditating and reflecting on what lessons I might be able to learn from such a senseless loss. As a result, my head and heart were filled with so many different thoughts and emotions. I shared what was going inside of my brain with a few trusted others – my therapist, my wife, my family and friends - but I also needed another outlet. The only way for me to move forward through my grief was to find some way of getting what was inside of me out of me – a pressure release if you will.  

One day as I was reflecting on the outpouring of love that my family received in the aftermath of William’s death, I wrote a poem that captured my experience. The poem is called Love Manifest” and it opens chapter 6 of my book, My Teacher, My Son – Lessons on Life, Loss, and Love. When I read that poem aloud to myself, it awakened the inner poet in me I never knew existed.  From that moment, the different experiences that surrounded William’s death as well as the lessons I learned from them began to flow out of me through a series of poems. These poems allowed me to make sense of things and to convey what I was feeling in a way that felt true to who I am.  They allowed the rawness of feelings that I am typically not comfortable sharing come out on the page. They became the manifestation of my grief.  

Grief is such an overwhelming emotion. We tend to have expectations for how it should unfold. We might assume that it involves big displays of emotion, kind of like what we see in the movies or on TV.  Or we believe that it should follow the series of neatly organized steps that is often described in the different literature that exists on the topic.  The challenge occurs when our grief shows up differently from how we expect it should - when those big emotions don’t show up, or when the steps you think should occur are out of sequence or don’t happen at all.  That was the case for me and for the longest time I thought there was something wrong with me. What I now realize is that I wasn’t doing it wrong but rather doing it in my own way, a way that resonated with who I am.  Becoming an author made me realize that I have my own way of grieving, and that is ok.