After the unexpected loss of a loved one, it is difficult to know where to turn for help and what to do next, and healing can feel like something out of reach. The Sudden Loss Survival Guide: Seven Essential Practices for Healing Grief by Chelsea Hanson provides an indispensable road map to aid those who’ve experienced a life-changing loss. While you cannot control losing a loved one, you can consciously guide your own recovery. Through the application of simple, proactive practices, The Sudden Loss Survival Guide will empower you to overcome the darkness and anxiety of grief.
Chelsea Hanson is a nationally recognized grief educator and founder of With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes, which is an online memorial gift store and grief support center. Hanson found her true purpose in grief support and legacy work and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison as a grief support specialist with certifications in holistic life coaching and life legacy preservation. By connecting her 20 years of business expertise with her true calling, she is an entrepreneur who specializes in grief products and programs to help others transform personal setbacks into opportunities to live a meaningful life. Chelsea transcended unexpected loss over time, losing both her father and mother at a young age. She now lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband and son.
The Sudden Loss Survival Guide will be released on May 20, 2020, and you can pre-order your copy here. In light of its release, we are excited to share this interview with Chelsea about the experience of releasing a book during a global pandemic and the timely resources her book provides during this difficult time.
Swenson Book Development: What has it been like to release your book during the pandemic?
Chelsea Hanson: I’ve had more time at home and that has allowed me to connect with my audience virtually. I decided not to follow fear-based news about the economy and the viability of businesses. Instead, I have been paying attention to how other authors are adjusting their marketing plans. When my book comes out on May 19, booksellers will still be closed, and people will not have returned to work. Although this situation is not ideal, The Sudden Loss Survival Guide will provide essential information to those suffering from loss during these uncertain times and in the future. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide hope, comfort, and inspiration to the increasing number of people who will be living with loss from COVID-19.
SBD: How is the subject of your book relevant to the sudden losses and grief we are experiencing?
Chelsea Hanson: Grief is a common experience today with the pandemic, and even though we typically think of grief as related to death, there are other types of losses, both small and large. Workplaces closed, events canceled, public activities curtailed, travel restricted. Many suffer illness, isolation, loneliness, and great distance from loved ones. People need help to work through these losses, and The Sudden Loss Survival Guide delivers the essential answers to survive, cope, and heal from loss.
The Sudden Loss Survival Guide teaches that grieving requires embracing pain, whatever the source. During the pandemic, no one else has experienced exactly what you have. Do not let anyone minimize your grief because they haven’t been in your unique situation and cannot fully understand what you’ve lost. To ultimately heal from loss, you need to allow, experience, and express your grief from all types of pain.
SBD: How have you had to shift your plans to publicize and market your book during the outbreak?
Chelsea Hanson: Public events were canceled, so that caused me (and other authors) to be more inventive in marketing and moving more promotional efforts online. I’ve been using online platforms to reach out to grieving people for some time, but now I’ve increased the frequency. I offer a weekly newsletter, regular blog posts, and daily social media posts with practical tools to cope with and understand grief. I’ve also reached out to many professionals personally to inform them of the book’s release.
With people having more time at home, I wanted to offer additional tools that would be useful. Readers receive a free 30-day online course, “An Invitation to Healing,” and mini e-book, Let Go of the Grief and Hold Onto the Love with the purchase of The Sudden Loss Survival Guide.
I am employing the old-school method of using regular mail to send promotional information to grief support organizations. I even recruited my 13-year-old son to help. He didn’t know how to address an envelope, but he sure could show me how to add hashtags to Instagram posts.
SBD: What advice do you have for people struggling during this difficult time?
Chelsea Hanson: Give yourself permission to mourn your losses, whatever they are, even if they seem small in comparison to others. It doesn’t matter what’s happening around you or to others, if the loss is important to you, take the time to acknowledge it. All loss hurts.
There is no hierarchy of pain or grief. The sadness you are feeling is always the most important to you, just as your neighbor’s sorrow is the most valid to him or her. When we rank grief, we validate some losses and minimize others. This causes people to become silent about their losses and magnifies the feelings of being alone.
To process your unusual feelings during this time, consider this brief exercise:
- Awareness: Take an inventory of the grief you may be experiencing right now. You may be feeling loss of normalcy, routine, financial resources, safety, companionship, control, planned events, or freedom.
- Attention: Name your grief and the feelings it is bringing up. Examples may include disbelief, anger, sadness, shock, regret, uncertainty, anguish, fear, or loneliness.
- Expression: Allow feelings to naturally move through you. By resisting emotions, your pain will persist longer than necessary. Instead, when you release sorrow little by little, the uncomfortable feelings begin to gradually recede and disappear.
- Practice: Make it a habit of allowing time to be with your emotions. You’re likely not used to noticing what’s occurring for you in an expressive, non-judgmental way. All emotions and feelings are acceptable, even the ones you think aren’t. Practice being alone with your emotions using love, compassion, and gentleness for ten minutes each day.
SBD: What impact do you anticipate and hope The Sudden Loss Survival Guide will have on its readers, especially during these trying times?
Chelsea Hanson: Change is inherent in life, whether birth, death, illness, aging, or other unwelcome losses. But these changes do not have to cause permanent, ongoing suffering. The death of a loved one is inevitable, but being paralyzed by fear, anxiety, and grief is not.
Joy, love, and even peace is possible again when you desire healing. While you cannot control loss, you can proactively guide your own healing. Time along with effort, the intention to heal, and conscious mourning will gradually bring comfort.
I can now offer others what I wish I would’ve had when my parents died—a handbook on how to not only survive life-changing loss, but also reengage in life with new, profound meaning.