#compassion #susanstrasser #susanstrasserblog #amwriting

How are your spiritual goals for 2021 coming along? Compassion is a biggie for me, and reflecting via my current memoir writing helps! Here’s a glimpse…

Ever heard of Swedish death cleaning? In 2018, Margareta Magnusson released her best selling manual, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, about decluttering your home so that when you die, loved ones do not have to do it for you: “The younger you are when you start, the more space and time you will have to enjoy your later years.”

I’m a middle-aged writer, knee-deep in my memoir about my childhood, attempting to resurrect one major ghost: my father.

My world stopped in 2017 when after a stroke, he died in three days.

So to help me with the memoir, I looked up material from fellow bloggers and You tube. “George R. R. Martin’s 10 Rules for Success” (Game of Thrones) was a good one. #8 was “Do Your Research,” in which Martin discusses the importance of developing empathy for your characters.

After quitting my former career and setting aside the space and time I need to enjoy the second half of my life, I find a lot of love but also a lot of anger. It’s always been there. It’s like I was born with it. It’s tough sometimes to be gentle with yourself when you have more time to feel feelings.

And of course, I’m not a fiction writer like Martin. But our goals are the same, such as: Rule #9:”Engage Emotionally.” After all, how good a writer am I if I cannot evoke feeling from my readers?

Authors have characters, and I have recreated family members of the past who are like ghosts. I conjure them, there’s a spirit of someone and how they were to me 40 years or so, but I cannot say the magic words or put on the hat like the children do in Frosty the Snowman to make them wake up or be fully alive and shout “Happy Birthday!”


That reminds me!

Whenever Dad left the house, he went over to his favorite ball caps, placed one on his head, walked over to Mom at the kitchen sink and kissed her goodbye. Do you see that? Do you remember rituals like that with your Mom or Dad? You always think you’ll see them again.

I’m sure the last time I saw it was in 2016 or 2017, but you know at the time, you don’t think, This is the last time I will see my father put a hat on and walk over and kiss my Mom goodbye.

It just is. And I miss that. Oh, do I grieve these simple moments. But part of me was overly engaged with my parents being my parents, and my being stuck in the child role. How much do I enjoy the past without reliving it?

Writing daily six days a week is my death cleaning. I am reliving it all one more time, with as much feeling as I can muster, and moving on!

Martin and other creatives preach: ultimately, you create your art for yourself and because you have to. If no one bought my memoir this year or next, would it matter?

After all, my memoir and history of my grief can lead to me becoming a more compassionate person. That is my goal in 2021.

One day at a time.

And it’s getting better all the time! So exciting!


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