By Jasper Myers Special to the Record
In November 2019, at age 30, Aly Bird lost her husband Will, 29, in a hiking accident.
Bird worked as a whole-person coach before the accident, and has since pursued studies and training in grief counselling.
Now Bird has written her first book, Grief Ally, which was published in January 2023, and provides a guide for anyone who finds themselves supporting someone after a loss. She said writing the book was part of her own process.
“The book was really part of my grief expression, from my own personal experience.”
When her husband died, Bird said it was the first time she had experienced any sort of significant loss in her life. She coped by asking why, and in her time did a lot of reading and learning about grief.
“I’ve learned, after the death of my husband, that I am an instrumental griever. My grief expression is more of a cognitive experience. I focus on problems, and I’m interested in doing research and finding answers.”
She said she noticed early on that people will say, “Go find community, go find people like you,” and she couldn’t relate to other widows.
“Everybody was talking about feeling forgotten and abandoned and misunderstood, and the reality of my situation was that I was none of those things,” she said.
Bird said her support network was really great and stuck by her despite making mistakes or being afraid. She said the book was born out of her observation that people in support roles need a tool.
“There are so many books out there written for the bereaved themselves…there’s plenty of resources out there,” she said. “But for the people who want to help, there are very few.”
So Bird took what her support network was showing her and teaching her, along with her background in coaching and her interest in psychology to build the resource.
About six to eight months after Will’s death, Bird had the realization that she had something to share and help others, but it wasn’t until a year later that she said she started to work on the book. She noted it started out as a project and decided she would only work on it when it brought her joy.
“There were moments where I put it down and then I would pick it back up a month or two later,” she said.
Now that the book is out, Bird said she is excited.
“It’s been something that has been very close to my heart through the writing process, and now being able to talk about it and share it with others and seeing the impact that it will make, that gives me a lot of hope.”
Bird added there’s a sort of before and after in life - where before, people live their lives and don’t think about how finite it is, and after something bad people realize, ‘Oh we’re all going to die someday,’ and it almost becomes the bereaved person’s job to guide people through that ‘after.’
“It’s my hope that with this book that the people who can still be in the naive, innocent space in life can still show up for the bereaved,” she said.
Bird wants these kinds of conversations to be normalized and hopes her book helps to open the doors to these conversations more.
She is currently pursuing a masters degree in counselling psychology and hopes to practice in grief therapy once she’s done.
Grief Ally is available as an e-book, paperback and audiobook, and can be ordered online or in-store.