Navigating grief, 1 page at a time
Navigating grief is anything but a straight path. So when a Hudson woman set out to make a book on the subject, she said she decided to color outside the lines — so to speak.
Kim Owen Mazur's self-published book, "Losing My Reflection," is part coloring book, part journal for people to record their grief experience.
The book was awarded a bronze medal this spring in the Independent Publisher Book Awards contest in the gift/speciality/journal category.
We asked Mazur about the inspiration for the book and what she hopes people will get out of it.
Q: How has grief affected your life, and what inspired you to want to help others?
A: On July 18, 2015, my life forever changed when my middle daughter died in a car accident. It is a loss like no other I've experienced. Many of us have felt the loss of a grandparent, parent, spouse or beloved pet but those losses pale in comparison. Losing my daughter changed who I am, how I see things, who I wanted to be, how I wanted to be. Life is now before she died and since she died. In some ways I have become angry because my world as I knew it stopped that day. I see other families who are still whole and I wish that mine still was. I am angry that my daughter is never going to get married and have the children she so deeply desired.
But in other ways I feel I am a better person. I am more compassionate. I reach out to those who have lost more so than I did before because now I understand that grief is a forever thing. It does not get better, it does not go away, we don't get over it. What happens is that it changes, or we change and we adjust to this new life that we did not chose. What choice is there?
I now know that we need to reach out to those who are experiencing a deep, profound loss and support them longer than it takes to bake a casserole and take it to their house. I know now to let them talk about their loved one. To ask about their loved one. To listen for as long as it takes. Asking about them does not bring up the hurt, it does not remind us that they are gone. I promise we will never forget that they are gone. What it does do is let them know that I care, that I remember and that I understand the pain of loss that they are experiencing, at least from my own perspective.
Q: Why a coloring book, and how is it used as a journal?
A: Adult coloring books are all the rage these days, it is a form of relaxation and a way to put your mind in another place. Coloring relaxes your mind allowing it to open. After Bethany died I started making drawings of things I was feeling and experiencing as a way to let out some of my emotions and fears. One morning at breakfast I shared some of my early drawings with Mark and Linda Triplet who I met through the Compassionate Friends who lost their son, Adam. Mark looked me straight in the eye and said, "You need to publish these." The seed was planted.
One of the things a person who is grieving is encouraged to do is journal. I was given a journal and I did not find it helpful at all. I did not want to think and answer questions that some psychologist thought would be helpful for me to answer in order to heal. What I found myself thinking about were simple pictures with simple sayings that people would send me. I decided to combine the two and self-published "Losing My Reflection: A Coloring Book Journal to Record your Personal Grief Experience."
There are 72 illustrations in the book. No page numbers. No right or wrong way to use the book. It is your grief journey. You find a page and illustration that speaks to you. You color it if you chose to. Most of the page is blank for you to write your feelings, for you to journal.
Q: What's the significance of the title?
A: I chose the title, "Losing My Reflection," because when I saw myself in the mirror I did not know who I was anymore. I had changed, but I also chose the name as a play on words since journaling is a time to reflect.
Q: Where can people find the book?
A: The book can be purchased directly from me at email@example.com. The Phipps Center for the Arts has a few as well as Chapter2Books in Hudson, or I have an Etsy account at www.etsy.com/shop/SkyBlueViewsByKMaz.