Interview with Claire M. Schwartz, author of Putting Out the Fire


Inside the Book:

Putting Out the Fire 

Title: Putting Out the Fire: Nurturing Mind, Body & Spirit in the First Week of Loss and Beyond Author: Claire M. Schwartz 
Release Date: May 1, 2015 
Publisher: Helian Press Books 
Genre: Self-Help/Grief and Bereavement 
Format: Ebook/Paperback

The phone rings - your breath falls away - and each moment becomes a lifetime. The death of someone significant in your world can rewrite the scope and breadth of who you are. But in this exact moment of decisions, questions, family stress, and legalities, what do you do first and how do you cope?

When author Claire M. Schwartz lost her mother suddenly when she was 24, she experienced this exact thought process. But with all the misinformation out there about Grief & Loss, and without tools that actually made her feel better, she fell apart. After 20+ years on her healing journey, and over two dozen more losses, she brings you the Truths that no one will tell you and the Tools to truly bring you support and clarity in the initial hours and days following a death.

In this slim and personal book, you will learn:

- How to practice Self-Care during this intense emotional time
- The Ten Tall Tales of Grief & Loss ™
- the things we get told that may be well-meaning, but can be so hurtful and destructive
- how to respond and plus compassionate ideas that will better support you
- Who to trust and who to avoid, in the near-term and the long-term
- How to manage funeral arrangements, the legal bits and all those details that can make you nuts, but must be done
- Ways to celebrate your loved one, as well as what to do when the deceased was not so loved.....
- What to focus on after the first week, and what to expect in the longer term

 We all experience loss in life - but what is very difficult to find is truthful advice that makes sense, and practical tools that anyone can use. This book tackles both, with compassion and clear practicality, with heart and with wisdom. There is no other book out there that focuses solely on this first, most-intense and exhausting period. It will support you when you need it most and get your healing journey started on the right foot.

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The Interview:

Can you tell us what your book, Putting Out the Fire, is about? 

My goal with this book was to provide candid and compassionate advice to anyone who has just suffered a loss. A loss does not only refer to a death of a loved one, but can be any major life change, including a job loss, financial crisis, health diagnosis and more.

Why did you write your book?

Beginning with my mother’s death in 1995, and over the 30+ losses that I have experienced, I found no resources whatsoever that authentically reflected the Griever’s world when a loss first occurs, nor did I find anything that summarized important tools one needed to know to survive the first week. I was left with so many questions, and so many things that I wish I had known ahead of time. In that moment when you are feeling everything at once, and yet you are also completely numb, right when you have to leap into making 327 decisions and turn your life upside-down, how do you manage? How do I take care of myself? How do I cope when someone makes a hurtful comment? How do I handle family strife? What do I need to do first and what can wait? Why does everyone throw all these platitudes around that make no sense and make things worse? In that painful process, I didn’t find anything that told me the truth. So I decided to write it.

What is the message your book trying to tell your readers? 

We set Grievers up for failure when we set a goal of “Getting Over It.” It is an impossible standard at which we all fail, and then feel terrible because we couldn’t heal! My mother has been gone 21 years – that certainly doesn’t mean that I am “over” her loss. I miss her often, I honor her in my home and that day, that phone call at midnight, changed my life forever. What is actually true and useful and much more compassionate is acknowledging that every loss changes us and we must reinvent our lives taking this new reality into account. I call it “Weaving the Loss into the Landscape of Your Life.” Because your life will never be the same – but your life is not over. 

Why is your book so slim? 

One thing that every loss has in common is that time gets very sllllooooowwww and our focus and memory are completely off. Given those two facts, why would someone be able to focus on reading a 300-page book? I have thumbed through so many books that had dozens of chapters and tried to cover absolutely every aspect or permutation of the process. No Griever whom I know is able to focus on that, when you can’t sit still, your attention wanders in 30 seconds and have no idea what you did with your glasses! So I wanted to be succinct, empowering and truthful in a brief span to make it easier to find what you need quickly and give you answers that make sense.

Have you always expressed yourself through writing? 

Oh, yes – I have been writing all my life. From angst-ridden teenage poetry to commentaries and journaling, it is the main way that I communicate with my soul and work things out. It gets things out of the fog in my head and onto the page, where I can ruminate and reflect and make sense of it. It is invariably where I come to conclusions and find peace in my heart again.

In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it? 

I determined very quickly that I would self-publish my book. I felt very strongly that I wanted to get this book out as quickly as I could, but also wanted it to be professional. I had it professionally edited, laid out, designed and formatted. I own everything that you see – the cover image, the publishing company, the ISBN numbers and the copyright. I feel very proud when I put it in someone’s hands.

Meet the Author:

Claire M. Schwartz is from the Detroit suburbs and comes from a place she calls The Dark Ugly™. She lived in a lovely town, went to a private school for gifted kids, and had cultured and educated parents. Yet Grief & Loss have followed her as long as she can remember - trauma, violence, & neglect - loss of safety and security, loss of confidence, loss of grandparents, friends and animal companions, loss of health, opportunity and sense of place in the world. The pivot point of her life was the sudden death of her mother in 1995, which changed her world forever. Yet recovery was painstakingly slow, wrapped up in misinformation, confusion and more pain. After years of therapy, failures and mistakes, her life's goal has been to find the answers that made no sense when her healing journey began. Now more than 20 years and 30+ losses on, she is bringing all that she has learned into one slim and powerful volume, in the hope that you suffer less than she did on her healing quest.

Claire holds a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan, is a Spiritual Counselor, Reiki Master Teacher, Certified Professional Coach and Interfaith Minister. She is happily married in New Jersey, surrounded by cats, great food and the best of friends.

You can visit her website at