Hollowed Heart: Author Interview and Book Giveaway

Spotlight Interview w Deb Brandt

Giveaway: print or eBook copy of The Hollowed Heart

Hollowed Heart by Deb Brandt

The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to you, Tracy, for having your name pulled out of the hat, and a private email has already been sent to you to arrange for getting the book to you. Thanks, everyone, for participating!

The Interview

Deb Brandt is a certified funeral celebrant, alumni of our Creative Grief Studio Certification Program, professional writer and educator. For the past 4 years she has been bringing her experiences as a creative grief practitioner to families as they explore ways to celebrate and honor the life of their loved one. Collaborating with surviving family members, Deb facilitates the planning and funeral service process incorporating personalized details into the service experience. Music, poetry, scripture, art making, baking and many other activities become part of the ways that she and families remember the life their loved one lived. Deb also continues her work as a writer with blogs for funeral homes as well as non-grief related publications such as Hobby Farm and Chickens magazine. Deb lives in Indianapolis, Indiana where she writes, gardens, swims, walks and hikes with her Welsh Corgi, Fenway.

We had the opportunity to ask Deb a few questions about the book and her experience writing it:

Q: What made you decide to write this book? What were your intentions in creating it? 

Deb Brandt author bio picDeb: My colleague, Louise Dunn, and I decided to write this book in response to our own observations about resources available to women recovering from grief and loss. We wanted to offer women specific self-coaching resources to encourage growth in the face of life’s difficult losses and changes.

Q: Your book includes first-person stories from several women. Why did you decide to focus the book specifically for women? In what ways do you find this helpful? 

Deb: In our early conversations about the possibility of a book we recognized that women face sometimes unique challenges while mourning a loss. Losses are not limited to those that result from the death of a loved one. Rather, women often experience more than one loss: marriage/divorce, the death of a loved one, empty nest, physical changes and many others, all at the same time. Even in the face of these life changes women continue in their roles as mother, caregiver of other children or a surviving parent, full-time employee or student and much more. We wanted to give women easily accessible resources and tools; something that could be picked up and leafed through for a resource at any given time.

We also realized that a helpful resource for women is the stories of other women. We reached out through a variety of channels inviting women to share their stories of grief, loss and personal growth. We were deeply moved by the courage and vulnerability of those who decided to share their journey with us and ultimately with our readers.

Q: What did you learn about grief before and during the process of writing the book?

Deb: By inviting other women to share their stories and experiences we learned the value of women’s voices. The women who wrote about their experiences provided further insight into the challenges women face. They graciously offered details of their own experiences as a way to support and encourage others. As women, we are never alone in our experience – and we can draw on one another’s support, encouragement and learnings to carry on.

For me personally, I learned that my own experience of grief was and was not unique. There are threads that connect us in our losses. There are ways that we can use our losses to empower ourselves, find our creative voices and support others who are moving through grief experiences.

Q: Toward the end of the book you say, “Only you can decide what gives your life meaning and motivation. Think about these simple ideas as you ponder your forward movement… Stimulate your creativity by playing with paint, fabric, words, paper, music, color, or anything you find yourself drawn to.” What role do you think creativity plays in the grieving process? How did creativity help you?

Deb: For me, creativity and curiosity have been at the heart of healing after loss. For every loss there have been different avenues for coming back to myself. After the death of my father I found great comfort in the creativity of quilting. My mother was an avid gardener and I found that digging, weeding, planting and raising vegetables, keeping chickens and being outdoors were a way to remember her and find myself again.

More recently, after divorce and the death of my sister, I have returned to a life-long love of camping, hiking, walking, the outdoors and travel as creative and growth-filled outlets for my grief as well as connections to things my sister loved. Because these things have been comforting, I continue to keep an open mind and heart about what else might support me in the grief journey of my younger sister’s death. All this to say that creativity, for me, goes hand-in-hand with observation and self-kindness. It takes a gentle heart to notice what is working, supportive and kind for one’s own tender heart. When I work with others I encourage them to give themselves time, kindness, gentleness and to practice the skill of observation. Notice what feels right and follow those feelings.

Q: Where can someone buy a copy?

Deb: Digital copies of my book are available on my website.