August 27, 2019
Note From Rochelle
After years of writing professionally, I have discovered the one thing that encourages me to write every single time: purpose. When my writing serves a purpose, I am much more likely to honor my writing time. If you are struggling to find your purpose and honor your writing time, contact me for a consultation. Book a consultation session at my website.
I met Brian Smith through my coaching group with George Kao. I was immediately awed by the work he does helping people who are experiencing grief. When he published his new book, Grief 2 Growth, I knew I wanted to interview him for the blog.
Writers@Work: An Interview with Brian Smith
By Rochelle Melander
Welcome to the blog! Can you tell us about your new book, Grief 2 Growth?
Grief 2 Growth came about from my work with grieving parents. After my daughter, Shayna Elayne, passed away in 2015, I put everything I had into understanding the afterlife and how to deal with my grief. I became a volunteer with Helping Parents Heal. In that capacity, I run the Helping Parents Heal Online Facebook group. I am the moderator for a couple of other Facebook groups. I have interviewed dozens of experts in grief, healing, and the afterlife on behalf of Helping Parents Heal. The group is made up of nearly 5,000 parents. Over the last four years, I’ve become an expert on grief through hands-on experience and spending hours with the grieving. The book contains the answers I have discovered about what grief is; what we can expect to happen while we are grieving; and, most importantly, how do we survive a tragic loss. And, how we can thrive after being faced with life’s greatest challenges.
Your book grew out of a very difficult experience, the passing of your daughter. How did blogging about the experience help you find healing?
I was inspired to begin blogging just five days after my daughter passed. At first, the blog was intended to be cathartic. It was a diary of my experiences. I didn’t expect anyone would ever read it. I thought that perhaps one day, my older daughter would read it. As I began to volunteer and gain experience with helping others with their grief, I started writing articles to help others coming along the journey behind me. As the blog became more read, I moved it from Tumblr to WordPress and a dedicated domain www.shaynaelayne.com
Is your book based on your blog?
Ironically, the book is not based on the blog. After a year or two of blogging, I decided I was to turn the blog into a book. But, I was stuck in trying to determine how to do that. Which posts would I include? Would I make it a sequence of all of the posts or choose only the “best?” Would I categorize the posts into chapters? I’m still stuck.
While I was deciding all of that, the book I have published came into being. Grief 2 Growth started with a blank Google Doc titled simply titled “Grief.” I wrote everything I had learned about grief over the past four years. The intent was to produce an audio for grievers. Grieving people typically have short attention spans due to an imbalance in brain chemicals. Often, it’s difficult to read at all. So, the idea was to make a simple audio file I could give away. The blog is about more than grief.
In this project, I focused on grief. Once I reached 10,000 words, I realized I had enough material for a short book. It’s the perfect format for a grieving person because it can be read in one sitting. I hope that people buy it not only for themselves but as a gift for loved ones who find themselves wondering what is happening to them. The audiobook is in development and should be available by August of 2019. Ironically, the ebook and paperback are both available ahead of the audio.
Brian, you juggle running two businesses and family life—how did you fit writing a book into your already busy life?
Writing has always been a passion of mine. I’ve had several blogs over the years and am very active in helping people with my writing. One-on-one help is something I love. But, there are not enough hours in the day to keep doing what I’m doing voluntarily. Helping with the groups I moderate and participate in is a priority in my life. Finding a way to reach more people comes as a blessing. I make the time to write. The goal is for my writing to elevate awareness of my life coaching and grief partnering business so that I can help people that way as well. I’ve spent countless hours volunteering over the last four years. My intention is by putting out this book, I can reach more people, and I get exposure for the coaching business I recently launched at www.grief2growth.com
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading books in preparation for interviews for my podcast, also titled Grief 2 Growth. I just finished A Brightly Guided Life by Ingrid Honkala and The Application of Impossible Things by Natalie Sudman. I am currently reading Grief and God: When Religion Does More Harm Than Healing by Terri Daniel. All of these books help me with my work in addition to preparing for the interviews of the authors.
Productively getting through grief requires a multi-pronged approach. The most important key is to know that death isn’t real. Death is an illusion. We do not die; we simply transform into another type of existence. My approach to my grief and working with others is to gather as much evidence as possible to support this belief. Almost everything I read fits into this theme.
About the author. Brian became well acquainted with grief in 2015 after the sudden passing of his fifteen-year-old daughter Shayna. Brian first learned how to survive for the sake of his wife and surviving daughter. Brian studied in depth the nature of life and death and how to progress through grief. Currently, Brian does volunteer work with organizations dedicated to helping parents heal from the passing of a child. Brian also operates a life coaching and small business consulting practice. You can find Brian at www.grief2growth.com.