When you lose someone, the weight of the thoughts that come afterward can be oppressive: What ifs and whys and now whats?
For author Michelle Schmidt, writing those things down in a journal and then later a book helped ease her grief after losing her daughter Annie in a hiking accident in 2016.
“The thoughts are just flying around and coming in and out of your consciousness,” she says. “But when you organize and put them into something concrete, it helps you get a grasp on it and makes it feel not so big.”
Schmidt has written a book about her journey through grieving over the past two and a half years, Carried: How One Mother’s Trust in God Helped Her Through the Unthinkable. She will speak at Seeds of Remembrance, the University of Utah College of Nursing’s Caring Connections’ springtime grief support event, May 1 at 7 p.m.
“Initially, I didn’t want to do it at all,” she says. “But it started to come to me in a flood. Some of it was really hard and not fun at all, but that had to be part of it, because that’s part of the story. It was really cathartic to put all the feelings and thoughts down in one place.”
Each year, Seeds of Remembrance is scheduled before Memorial Day to allow volunteers and clients of Caring Connections: A Hope and Comfort in Grief Program a chance to remember their loved ones.
“We live in a world that discourages people from grieving; we want people to ‘get over it’,” Supiano says. “At Caring Connections, want to reverse that whole conversation, and say, ‘You are getting over it. If you’re talking about it, if you’re being with people, you’re gaining traction on your grief.’”
Just a year after Annie’s death, Caring Connection’s 2017 Grief and the Holidays event featured Michelle’s husband Jon, a member of The Piano Guys. While Jon Schmidt dug into writing music and dedicated a song to their daughter, Michelle Schmidt put pen to paper, Supiano notes.
“Everyone’s time frame is different,” she says. “This is a chance for us to affirm that everyone grieves differently. This event is going to speak to many people.”
Michelle Schmidt says her faith in God helped her through the roughest days. Whether it summons similar faith in a higher power or reminds a grieving person of the big picture, Schmidt says, writing things down in a journal can put things in focus.
“Whether something is published or read by other people doesn’t really matter,” she says. “We can get so caught up in the moment of grief or sorrow or joy that we sometimes miss the bigger perspective. Writing it down helps you analyze what you’re feeling and experiencing, instead of just pushing it away or denying it’s there.
“Writing is a tremendous tool. This is healing.”