Welcome everyone to a very special interview with Benjamin Scott Allen, author of Out of the Ashes. Here’s a bit about the book:
“Out of the Ashes” chronicles my journey through what I call “The AfterLoss”– a world of pain and grief following unspeakable loss. When you are in the depths of pain, you feel like the pain will last forever, that it will never go away. But I am here to tell you that it is possible to come to a place of healing and peace. You can even find a new ways to connect with meaning and purpose with the one you lost.
I tell you my story so you know you are not alone. My mission with this book is to encourage you and give you hope. Please allow yourself to get in touch with your loss, whether it be fresh or ancient history. And if the loss is yet to come, let my story help you feel stronger as you prepare.
Why is a book like this necessary?
Grief can isolate you. Truly. There are places only you can go. However, when you step in the footprints of others who have walked that forlorn path and come out whole on the other side, you know you can do it, too.
This book can help you identify AfterLoss milestones. I share mine so you can, perhaps for the first time, put a name to your thoughts and feelings and actions.
Also watch for my forthcoming publication “Living in the AfterLoss Guidebook.” This companion to “Out of the Ashes” will give you a deeper reflection and awareness of your healing journey and help you find your way through The AfterLoss.
In this book you will discover:
The important elements in the healing journey.
How to live in The AfterLoss – the way to move through grief and back into a more meaningful, whole experience of life.
How to honor the one you have lost, and shift the pain into an experience of peace and acceptance.
What to know about preparatory grief so you are more ready to cope and heal.
Now! Time for our interview!
Camilla: Does your book, Out of the Ashes, and the information you share in this interview apply to people who are suffering a loss that doesn’t have to do with the death of a loved one? I have experienced grieving in regards to losses in my life not death related. I actually don’t consider or label these as losses. I just consider it as part of my journey.
For example, when my daughter, Lillian, was 3 years old and it was discovered that she had a chromosome abnormality called 18p-. The evening I received the phone call from the pediatrician shifted my entire life and the expected life of my daughter. I certainly went through a period of grieving.
For a second example, in 2007 when I went through a separation and divorce from my husband of nearly 10 years, I believe I went through a grieving process as well. Grieving the loss of my marriage, coupled with the new life of being a single Mom to Thomas and Lillian took a great deal of time to experience and accept.
Benjamin: Yes, because grief isn’t just about losing loved ones. There are many reasons we experience grief.
Camilla: Does time heal all wounds?
Benjamin: Time is essential in the grief process. Everyone has their own timing and it is important to honor what it is for you. Does time heal? It can be an essential part of the process, but it is important to be clear on what healing means. Healing isn’t about loss being over for me. Healing is about finding a loving, nurturing way to relate to the loss that is being grieved. Healing is about reintegrating into a new relationship with the world around me in the light of the loss that I carry. And what about ‘all wounds’? What does that even mean? Everyone lives with wounds one way or another. Grief and loss entails every facet of life and the wounds we carry. Nothing in the human experience lives in isolation and grief touches every part of the one grieving. In fact, loss heightens and accentuates everything from our beliefs to our actions and challenges us to go deeper into the healing of wounds.
Camilla: What do you say to someone who is grieving?
Benjamin: The first thing to say to someone who is grieving is nothing. Someone who has experienced deep loss feels deeply the presence of those who are able to enter the world of the Afterloss. It is a gift to be able to share the gift of presence when grief strikes another. The aloneness initially encounter in the world of the Afterloss is so striking and foreign. It goes beyond words. Ultimately, words will rise from a place of tender authenticity. The one in deep sorrow feels the words more than hears them.
Camilla: What do you not say?
Benjamin: Anything that doesn’t rise from the heart. Often people are uncomfortable with another’s pain and want to fill the space with words. They want to say something to help. What helps is presence and authenticity. Words that flow from there are what matters most.
Camilla: Why is grief so misunderstood?
Benjamin: I don’t know if grief is as misunderstood as it is so individualized. Everyone grieves in their own unique way. One of the common threads of grief is its innate nature of isolation. We feel so alone in the world of the Afterloss. Grief leaves us looking for answers in a whole new environment that feels so different from the ‘norm’.
Grief actually is a reflection of someone’s entire being, what they believe, how they feel, how they relate to the world around them. Grief confronts us with who we are and each person has to find that path in their own labyrinth of being. So, I do not believe grief is misunderstood as much as its’ understanding is perhaps so personalized that it is difficult to translate in the same language of another.
Camilla: Do we all grieve in the same way?
Benjamin: Yes and no. Yes, I believe there are universal elements within the grief process. There is a world of Afterloss that seems to lighten a particular landscape that must be traveled. There is a need to touch those places of memory that draws us. There is a world that is out of sync with the world that moves on outside of the Afterloss. There is a feel of being caught between heaven and earth in a strange land. There is a revisiting of all that was and a reintegration into all that is now. There are many more universal footprints that we all travel, but those are some of the basic ones.
No, we don’t all grieve the same. Grief is actually a magnifying mirror reflecting everything we are – who we are, what we believe, what is important, what isn’t. Grief is not an addendum to life. Grief is a reflection of life. So, how one embraces loss is founded in how one embraces life.
Camilla: How can you tell the truth about how you feel without being debbie downer?
Benjamin: Grief is such an intimate process of vulnerability and raw emotion. Most people that are deep within the process prefer to be alone for long periods of time for a number of reasons, but one reason may be the desire not to bring others down. My experience was that there was a time and a place to express my sorrow. There were also certain people that I could share that with. The more I honored my grieving with those times, places and people the less I needed to carry that part of me in other situations. There is an instinctive knowing when it is appropriate to feel the weight of loss and when it would be better to put it aside for the sake of the moment. Some people simply can’t handle sorrow. I never had expectations that they had to enter my journey of grief. Nor did I ever want to draw them into what in most cases under such circumstances was indescribable to begin with. So, I would choose to enjoy the common ground that was comfortable for us both.
Camilla: If I start crying will I be able to stop?
Benjamin: Interesting question. If I start crying will I be able to stop? In the moment of a tsunami of tears, I found that ultimately the cleansing would stop. There were times when it didn’t feel like they would, but when that time of tears found its own completion, when healing would take me to a place of exhaustion and to the threshold of the expanse that only a really good cry could provide, the crying would end.
The other way of thinking of the question is will I ever stop crying? I hope not. The years of loss and the world of the Afterloss has shown me what a gift it is to cry. They are no longer tears of pain but tears of promise. When I cry now in my longing to touch the lives that touch me so deeply I feel the promise of our eternal connection. My tears now unite us and release us to go our separate paths that will be forever intertwined.
Thank you Benjamin so very much for your time!
A facebook Page has been created titled, Healing in the Afterloss. In just a matter of days the page skyrocketed to over 5,000 fans. Be sure to get involved on the page if it moves you! Please take about 3 minutes to enjoy this video Benjamin has created with a bit more information … Out of the Ashes …
Benjamin needs a wee bit of assistance getting the ‘Out of the Ashes’ published and he is asking for your help. For as little as $7.00 you can help bring this book to life and be a benefit to those who need to hear and read the message Benjamin shares.Go here to learn more.