Pushing Through Your Fear and Grief and Telling Your Story Anyway

Invisible Stories Episode 5 with Debra Lynne Driscoll

On today’s episode, I speak to Debra Lynne Driscoll, author of A Series of Surrenders: A Memoir of Grief.

Debra is an author, grief guide, healer, and speaker who believes we all have access to magic and are our own greatest teachers and healers.

Using intuitive guidance, storytelling and lessons learned in death and grief, Debra will help you to ease your ‘ouch’, unwrap your gifts, and soul expand.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How to craft your story to be in service of others
  • Your responsibility to sit with people with your story after they’ve read your book
  • How grief is a different form of love and how we can learn to sit with her and befriend her
  • How to focus on getting your story out, and having mentors and people around you to help you find the balance.
  • In the creation of your book, it might hurt a little bit. You will be challenged, but you will also be delighted.
  • Books do not have to be written in a linear fashion. Sometimes you need to choose when you will dive into writing the hardest parts of your memoir.

A Series of Surrenders by Debra Lynne Driscoll

How does one accept a gift from death when death is the very enemy that took your loved one away?

Death has come bearing gifts for me more than once. Tightly bound in grief, these gifts are hard to unwrap, yet it is only in the unwrapping that we reveal the lesson and ease the grief. Our burden becomes lighter, and our soul expands.

Can you prepare for such gifts, or is it only in hindsight that grief can mend our broken hearts?

Chronicling the deaths of a lover, my father and my only son, A Series of Surrenders is not only a love letter to them, but it is also a lesson in making friends with grief and learning to love again.

Dive into the depths of grief and the hope of what is possible when a broken heart repairs and a soul expands in lessons of love.

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Key Takeaways

  • Timestamp: 4:53: “I didn’t want to simply tell my story so that my story could be heard. I needed to understand the why. Why am I telling this story? Because this isn’t a story that is necessarily easy to digest or easy to write. But I wanted to be really clear around my intention and the energy that I was putting into it. And it became clear to me when I saw my book and the stories within my book as being at service to other people’s stories so that through my story, they could have a reflective place for their story with grief and with death.”
  • Timestamp: 7:13: “It just got louder and louder and it was like, no no no, you need to be of service to many, over many days. Now is the time. It was just really clear that 2018 was the year I was to sit and write the book.”
  • Timestamp: 7:34: Jenn: “So this podcast is called Invisible stories. So there’s an element of invisibility that we all carry around, regardless of what we might be carrying. Do you or have you, or do you feel more visible now, having put your story out there for people to hear, or do you still kind of feel sometimes like you are under the radar and still can be invisible?” Debra: “I don’t feel invisible, but I did have a very interesting response to the publishing of the book, which I was Like “Oh, there it is,” and it was the response of feeling this great responsibility for the person who was sharing their story. And then feeling like if I couldn’t stay on top of the game, on top of the wave of my grief that I manage daily, then am I being a fraud? Do I have the right to tell this story? And it was a really interesting process of whether it’s the fraud that comes knocking at the door, or the imposter syndrome or whatever that might be. And you know I had gone through the year of writing the book, and then the editing process, and then the publishing process. And I had processed the element of “wow, I’m going to be very visible now.”
  • Timestamp: 9:30: “When you position yourself as someone who is like please come and sit with my story, that I think there is a responsibility to how we hold that story. And just recently I’ve decided just to be kind to myself and understand like I say in the book, grief is a journey, and the waves are going to keep coming, and sometimes I am gonna be really good at it and sometimes I am going to suck. But I am still a credible messenger, and somebody who has a story to share, in the hope that others will become visible in their grief and their broken heart stories. Because I feel like grief is never invited to the party. Nobody wants grief on the invited list. But grief will arrive for all of us. The only way to get away with it is to be the one who dies first, and not love anyone. And our human experience is to love and to connect. And it means at some point there is going to be a disconnect.”
  • Timestamp: 10:51: “To me, now I feel that it’s a great disservice to us that our standard response to grief is to either hide her in the shadows or push her away. And so in my work, what I hope to do, is to make grief more visible. Not necessarily me, but grief. I want grief coming to the party, I want to be invited to the party to speak about the book, and my stories and the process. But more than that, I want grief to be on the invited guest list.”
  • Timestamp: 11:41: “Grief is a different form of love in action. And when we sit and be with her, she does beautiful tending to the muscles of our heart. She really does. She doesn’t mean to be destructive and to destroy and to hide us and to make us feel the despair that death can, or that separation or heartbreak can. I believe that grief actually comes to teach us about the nuances of our heart energy and its capacity.”
  • Timestamp: 12:59: “When I first started writing I was here in New York, and I would sit on the weekends in my apartment in my room and begin to write what was in me. And what I found was the memories would come out and then it was almost like they would stick on the walls of my bedroom and my apartment, and then my apartment would suddenly feel really crowded.”
  • Timestamp: 14:21: “It was the magic. Because I could wake in the morning with the sounds of the birds and the chickens and the ocean, and dive into the writing. And then when I was finished writing, the ritual I had was when I finished writing for the day, I would pack away all my writing tools, and I would walk myself to the closeby beach. I would dive into the ocean, and ask the ocean to take everything away, that I had developed that day, that I had written that day, that I had been with that day. And it worked because of the magic of the ocean. Because the ocean is one of the greatest healers I know. It actually helped me be able to return to the writing the next day, and to be fresh, and to feel like I was clean, like none of the memories were sticking.”
  • Timestamp 24.52: Jenn: “Most people look at a book and the writing process and believe that it has to be linear. That you have to start on page one and write your way all the way through to page 200. But you as an author know that that’s not how that works, I as an author and publisher know that that’s not how that works. […] Did that feel really foreign to you to kind of like have to put that aside and come back to it?” Debra: “No, The putting aside at the time felt soothing, of not wanting to go to that part of the narrative. To deep dive into being so intuned with who he was as a young man so that someone who had never met us could meet him fully. And what helped, because I had written part one, part three, and had most of part four written before I would deep dive into part two. Part two was called In the Company of a Sage, it’s my life with Sage. And what happened when I went there, I felt prepared and ready. Like, I know this is going to hurt, but it’s also going to be ok. There’s going to be moments of delight where I get to sit with stories of Sage and share stories of his that are not all painful. There’s some delight there too. But I also knew the stories to choose, because I knew the bigger thematic themes of the piece.”
  • Timestamp: 29:26: It’s the same whether it’s memoir-style and you’re writing about your life with someone or whether it’s like years of research or something you have been working on for a long time. But you are so in it, it’s hard to see what’s the narrative that’s digestible to all the people who could read this. And not that you’re always thinking about all the people, but you hold the balance of what’s the story that I want to tell, and what’s the story that needs to be heard. So you are holding that balance the whole time.”
  • Timestamp: 30:25: Jenn: And that is also tricky to find the balance. And that’s where people like Ian, or your editor, or your writing mentor, or whoever it is who is your touchstone, that’s where they can help you. Debra: At the beginning in the writing, before I actually started writing, I went to a memoir class here in New York, because I thought oh, I just want to go and meet some of the writers and get some structure around the writing of a memoir. And it was so good like we had a really great teacher, really great group of people in the class. And it was so, really enjoyable. 10 weeks of winter in early 2018, which I think set me up beautifully. And one of the feedback I got from the group when I submitted a piece, I submitted a piece about the day Sage died. And what I had chosen to do is to say, “and he died, and he died like this, and then that happened.” And then I moved away from the narrative. And all of the feedback was like “No, no, no, we want the detail. What was the room like, what happened next, we want to be in this.” I remember sitting in this class and being like, “But I don’t want to upset people,” and then someone said, “People are already upset. Be a mirror to that upset for us.”

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