Q: You mention on your website www.loveneverdies.net that you wrote Love Never Dies because you couldn't find literature to tell you that part of the bereavement process was "continuing a relationship" with your son after his death. Can you tell me more about that discovery and how it happened for you?
Sandy: Every book I found about grief and loss had the despicable "closure" word in it. I was horrified. I gave birth to a child that I had every intention of mothering for life. MY life. Jason was still my son. I wanted to find a way to continue my relationship with him not find a way to end it. What parent would try to find an ending? It made no sense to me whatsoever.
Q: Can you tell us a little about Jason and his life? The effects of his death on your life?
Sandy: Jason was an 18 year old kid. He wasn't someone you would have met on the street and walked away shaking your head thinking he was an old soul. He was fun and irritating and happy and sad and every emotion you can think of, he experienced in his short life. He loved the outdoors, and he loved the couch with remote in hand. He was full of life. Every minute of every day.
His death has impacted me in ways I can't even explain. The most devastating loss is also the most life changing. I sometimes feel like I have lived two lives in one body. The one "before" and the one "after." My heart was totally emptied when his stopped beating. I have spent six years now, and am still trudging along, filling that heart up again. It is a long journey with many forks, and many gifts if a person is willing to look for and accept them as such.
Q: I see from LoveNeverDies.net that you offer a newsletter. Can you tell us what the newsletter is about and how readers might sign up to subscribe to it?
Sandy: Love Never Dies Newsletter is a compilation of poetry (mine and reader's submissions), short articles and anecdotes, ponderings, tips about grief and celebrating our loved one's lives, news about the book and my public appearances. Subscribing is easy, just email me and write subscribe in the subject line. You can find my email address and links on every page at www.loveneverdies.net
Q: I know from my personal experience that finding a publisher for works about "grief and bereavement" can be a very difficult thing to do. Can you tell us a little about how this work came to be for you? How did you learn the "business of this art" as it unfolded on your journey since Jason's death??
Sandy: I have to think that Jason helped out a bit with finding a publisher. It happened too easily and too smoothly. As far as learning the "business of this art", believe me, I am still learning. Jodere Group (my publisher) has been wonderful at taking my hand and leading me every step of the way. I always thought that if you wrote a book and found a publisher, the book would just magically appear on shelves in all major bookstores. Let me tell you, that is not the case. They have to ORDER the book. And that means they have to think it's going to sell. And THAT means they want to know the author.
I've also learned that grief and loss is not an easy subject for most people to talk about. At book signings, the thought of having to make eye contact with a mother who's child has died can cause a mass exodus from a bookstore.
Q: In the "What's New" section of the site, I see that you are doing some reading and book signings. How is that going for you? Are you finding that the reading audience is really open and ready for this information?
Sandy: I am done with my tour for the time being. It went well and was the most exciting period of my life (so far). It seems to me that there is a tremendous need to give folks permission to grieve and believe as they want to. Too many rules have been etched into our collective consciousness and they make absolutely no sense. Who said we have to find closure? Why MUST we be angry if we are grieving? What's wrong with talking to a dead person? Who said dead = inaccessible? Why is it better to believe that your child has ceased to exist and is in the ground rotting, rather than to believe that he has simply left his body? And so yes, the people who sat down to hear me speak were open and ready to hear what I have experienced. The most incredible part was listening to them tell their own stories, many of whom had never shared them before.
Q: How are your travels and readings (and consequently meeting other bereaved parents) effecting/affecting your own grief process?
Sandy: Kara, you know that we are very selfish when we help others. THEY think we are wonderful and compassionate people, but WE know that it is in helping others that we move along on our own journey. My own grief process is ongoing. It flows in and out and around and backward, and I am not naive enough anymore to think that there is an end to it's movement. Meeting other moms and dads (and widows and bereaved siblings and children who've lost parents) keeps me grounded, helps me remember why I wrote Love Never Dies, and always gives me cause to stop and thank the Universe for getting me to where I am now.
Q: On your site there is a "Poems" section. Are these your own works?
Sandy: Yes. I began writing them soon after Jason died. It was very therapeutic. Most of them are in the book also.
Q: Here at Kota Press we publish monthly ezines for both Poetry and for Loss. Often the content crosses sections. I wonder if you could say a little about how the poetic process has unfolded for you during your own bereavement and grieving? How do you feel creativity and grief/healing go together?
Sandy: You can see as you read through the poems how my perception of life and death and love changed as I moved along. I think poetry works (and journaling) us toward healing by forcing us to put feelings into words that are real. Words that when someone reads them, they will know what the feeling is. Does that make any sense?
Q: If/When you have days where your own writing or creating is just not enough to soothe the feelings of loss, what do you do? Are there books or other writings or artworks done by others that you might suggest?
Sandy: I meditate. I find time alone, preferably outside in a solitary place. I listen to meaningful songs. I go online and visit with friends (and strangers) in spirituality and grief chatrooms. I talk to my husband, I talk to our dog, and if all else fails, I cry. Crying is good for the soul.
I read a lot. I crave books that resonate with my own experiences. Neale Walsch's "Conversations With God I, II, and III" are probably my favorites and Gary Zukav's "Seat of the Soul" runs a close second. Good books should leave room for the reader to interpret the information so that it "feels" right. It needs to come from love, not fear. If it's fear based, I stop reading.
Q: Is there anything in particular that you have learned along this journey -- from the time of Jason's death, all the way to today and your work with the book -- that you would want to share with bereaved parents who have just recently had a child die?
Sandy: Your child is dead, not gone. Your grief is about missing their physical selves. It is about changing your perception and finding a way to connect with the new being they have become. Be patient with yourself. Your pain will be overwhelming, but you can survive. Reach out to others, at first to find support and caring, but later to offer those same things to others. There are gifts along the way, search for them as you walk the path. They are from your child.....and they come with love. Oh....one more thing... "Love never dies."
Q: And, lastly, can you tell us a bit about what you vision for your work and mission with this book and outreach for the next 5 years, 10, 20?
Sandy: My vision is to nurture this process. Sharing my message...which is Jason's message...which is Spirit's message...has become my passion. What began as a nightmare has become a gift of enormous value. I intend to do whatever it takes to spread the message that death is not an ending. If that involves writing more books, doing more presentations, holding more hands, or crying more tears, then that is what I will do. There are moms out there right now who need desperately to know that their children still exist. Jason's story can open that first door.