Four years ago, Jessica Seburn lost her best friend at age 25. Now, she has published a book, The Corner Chip, that’s part non-fiction, part memoir and was written to be a raw, honest look at grief.
“It just kind of hit me that everything that I had been doing, everything that I had written, whether it was for my own self or for school ... had elements of loss and of grief and of my friend April,” she says. “Everything that I wrote had a little piece of her in it.”
A second-year student at Red River College, Seburn had to submit a proposal for a large independent project. Originally intending to create a video project, she wound up changing the entire concept a week before her deadline.
Seburn set out to write a book that was raw and honest, but also digestible - not something that would feel like a chore to read, especially if the reader was dealing with grief or loss themselves.
“We don’t deal with those things, and then I don’t think we’re living fully,” Seburn says. “I hope that people just feel a little less afraid to talk about it and to face it.”
Writing the book was Seburn’s second artistic pursuit along her grieving journey. A couple of months after losing her friend, she started doing stand-up comedy.
“I probably should have been going to therapy, but instead, I was like ‘I’ve got to tell some jokes. I’ve got to laugh,’” she says.
“Getting creative in the healing process can be greatly beneficial,” Teela Tomassetti, a Winnipeg therapist who supports people through grief and loss, says. “When people unfortunately come in contact with loss, they think that it is a linear road, and it is not. It is a constant roller coaster ride, and (there is) truly no way to prepare for it.”
Tomassetti, who runs a private practice called Mindset Therapy, tells her clients to honour whichever stage of the grieving process they are in. There is no real way to prepare for significant loss, and fighting it will only prolong the process, she says.
“Grief has no deadline,” she says. “The quicker you accept that and not fight it, the quicker you will begin your own healing.”
Another activity Seburn found helpful was attending a Winnipeg death café, where attendees talk about death and loss with others who are facing similar situations.
“It was just interesting to be in a room where everyone was allowed to talk about the stuff that you’re not really allowed to talk about,” she says.
“You are entitled to feel the way you do at any given moment,” Tomassetti says, “and you do not have to go through it alone … we live in a culture that surrounds people in that first week or two, and then we tend to disappear.”
Seburn also stresses the importance of knowing that others are there for you.
“When I was signing books and stuff, I wish I could have stopped every single person and just told them that their story matters to me,” she says. “It matters to more people than they realize.”
Seburn’s book The Corner Chip is 171 pages and can be purchased at McNally Robinson for $20.
Published in Volume 72, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 29, 2018)