Saturday, June 15, 2019

Trevy Thomas, Author of Companion in Grief

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Today we are interviewing Trevy Thomas, author of the self-help book "Companion in Grief: Comforting Secular Messages for the Daily Journey Through Grief."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Like many writers, I’m a bit of an introvert but can be surprisingly extroverted on the page. Honestly sharing with readers is my favorite kind of human connection. I’m a widow who has since been fortunate to remarry a widower, so we both understand this type of loss. We live in Virginia with our four dogs.

Describe the purpose of your book, “Companion in Grief,” in a few sentences.
As the title suggests, this book is meant to help the reader feel a connection to someone who understands how hard loss is. Despite having friends and family, I never felt lonelier than I did after my husband died. The people I wanted to communicate with most were the ones who were also going through loss. Even strangers brought comfort simply by sharing their experience with me. I hope “Companion in Grief” gives the reader a thread to hold onto in their grief.

Who do you think would most benefit from reading this book?
Anyone who’s lost a loved one, but since I wrote it after the loss of my husband, I imagine that those who’ve lost a life partner will especially connect with it.

What inspired you to write a book on supporting grievers through the painful experience of grief?
When I started to heal even a tiny bit after my own experience of loss, I took notice of the changes that were happening, what helped, and what didn’t. One of the things that helped was reaching out to other grievers so I wrote this book because it helped me heal and I want to share that with other grievers.

One of the unique aspects of the book is that it deals with grief without the presumption of religion. Why is it important to take this approach?
I don’t have anything against religion, and this book works fine for those who are also religious, but I found that many grief books rely on the author’s brand of religion for support and it can be off-putting. Not everyone is religious, and those who are don’t all agree on the same religion, so it’s presumptuous to use religion in a grief book. We all grieve; we are not all religious. Everyone deserves support.

The book features a number of practical activities to help the griever work through their grief. Can you tell us a bit about these activities?
Especially in early grief, just getting out of bed is a big effort. Your mind is foggy, your heart is bleeding, your body is disconnected. You need small steps to get through a day or sometimes an hour. Make dinner, go for a walk, take a yoga class, go to a bookstore rather than shopping online, sit in a car with the windows up and scream. There are hundreds of tiny activities suggested because they won’t all fit every mood but you’re likely to find one thing each day that can give you a reprieve from the pain of grief. We need that. 

A strength of the book is that it is organized in a concise, digestible way that allows the reader to cover the material without getting bogged down with excessive language. Was it challenging writing in this style?
No. It felt like a completely natural fit for the topic. I bought a pile of grief books in the weeks after my husband’s death and I’d just stare at the page trying to re-read what I couldn’t understand. You’re too foggy in grief to read the way you used to. You need little thoughts, one a day. Daily readers are a great support for working through big painful feelings.

While writing the book, did you learn anything about your own experience with grief?
Yes. I learned that even years out, you can still revisit hurt. But it changes and becomes more of a sweet melancholic pain rather than the jarring shock of new grief. Loss stays with us but folds more into the love you have for the person rather than standing apart from love. It’s gentler in time.

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Author Trevy Thomas.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
Writing about loss while living in new love. I had to ignore the temptation to feel I was betraying my new love and my lost love at the same time.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?
Moments of reprieve from their pain. Strength that comes from knowing those who’ve also walked this path survived it and learned to thrive again. Hope and compassion for themselves in the midst of life’s most difficult experience. A sense of having a companion, available at will, through this awful journey.

Outside of your book, are there any other tips or resources you have for people working through grief?
Join a grief group to find local people you can connect with. Find a way to exercise just a little. If you don’t mind writing, record your feelings in a journal and date them. You may be surprised to see a bit of growth when you look back.

How have readers responded to your book so far?
With gratitude. 

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
I’m enjoying a few shorter projects at the moment, including a return to creative nonfiction, essays and short stories, while working on a longer novel of women’s fiction.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
The book is written by day of the year but you don’t have to read it that way. There’s a subject index in the back so you can look up whatever emotion or experience you may be struggling with that day and jump right to the page that correlates. Some days you may want to read several pages because you need extra support. I find it’s helpful to start each day with a reading. I’d love to hear from readers. If you want to reach out, send a message through my website or Twitter. May you find peace in this process.

More Information
Buy the book on Book Baby.
Buy the book on Amazon.
Visit the author's website.
Follow the author on Twitter.

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