Pat is a professional in the field of writing and poetry.
She has written three books, namely, The Day America Cried!: So Many Innocents Died 9-11-01, Reflections On Life: Pocket Philosophy, and her latest book, Grief Hurts.
In this episode, Pat shared the 9/11 tragedy and how it led her to write her first book, how she naturally processes events through writing, and the actions she took to process tragedy.
During the time of the 9/11 tragedy, Pat was just having a typical day, drinking coffee and eating breakfast. But suddenly, the world is shaken as the tragedy has begun.
Because she and her partner lived in New Jersey, just eight and a half miles from ground zero, Pat could see the chaos that sprang.
As Pat watched the tragedy, she started to process what was happening and write it down in a poetic form, essentially writing down facts and history with the emotion it has. This mark the beginning of how Pat sees and processes a story and writes it down.
Furthermore, Pat talks about how grief is universal and manifests in various things, such as death, loss of a job, and marriage. To combat grief, going into a group of people that also experience grief will be helpful as it reminds you that you are not alone.
Patricia Schoeler’s life story proves that grief and trauma are a part of human life, but there is a way for humans to process it and eventually get through it.
This episode of The Beyond Adversity Podcast is a must-listen for anyone who is going through the pain of grief — those who want to learn how to process and go beyond it.
“The Beyond Adversity Podcast with Dr. Brad Miller is published weekly with the mission of helping people “Grow Through What They Go Through” as they navigate adversity and discover their promised life of peace, prosperity and purpose.
Dr. Brad Miller 0:00
Our special guest today is an expert in that, and especially in terms of sharing through the through poetry and through writing. Her name is Pat Schoeler, and we welcome Patricia Pat shoulder to beyond diversity. Welcome.
Pat Schoeler 0:16
Thank you, Brad. So nice to meet you to have me. Thank you
Dr. Brad Miller 0:19
Pat, it is a delight to have you on our podcast here today. And we had some good chats before we got started today about some of your experiences that you've had in your life. And your latest book is about grief. But I'd like to take you back to some of the tragic events that may have happened in your life that help form you, you sick you. You told me earlier you wrote one of your first writings after the 911 tragedy. So tell me about that. What kind of precipitated that What did you you live in New Jersey not too far away from where New York City? But tell us what what you experienced that day? And how that kind of led to you having a writing, expressing yourself in writing?
Pat Schoeler 1:02
Okay. Yes, in New Jersey, we're about eight and a half miles away from New York City and the Twin Towers. So on that September morning, I was just sitting, having a cup of coffee and breakfast. And it came across the TV about the plane flying into the World Trade Center. And as shocking as that was, your first thought is no, maybe a small plane, there was a tragedy that went into the building. But when they showed the picture, and we saw it was an airliner, it was just like a total shock and disbelief. Still thinking it was a terrible tragedy. But when the second plane went into the second tower, that's when we knew something was.
Dr. Brad Miller 1:50
we all we all knew for sure, then that something was terribly wrong,
Pat Schoeler 1:56
terribly. Now, in the past, I'd like to journal things. That's how I process things. And actually what was happening, as I was watching this unfold on TV, the next day reading it in the paper that night, I think as I shared with you, the Eagle Rock Reservation, about half a mile away from my home, is an unobstructed view from here to New York City. So my partner and I got in the car and we went over and just about everybody was up there, you know, those areas, so we got to see the smoke. But the point is, I guess for me processing. I started to write it down. But it was coming out in poetic form. Okay, I didn't. It's just how that happened. But I was taking things to process from the news from the newspaper, different things I heard. And then, as I said, my partner and I realized that I was writing down, you know, like, history has facts. And these indeed are facts, but there was feelings that went along with it. Absolutely. Yeah, whatever I could pick up. I just did. And that's how I process that.
Dr. Brad Miller 3:12
So you're taking the facts of what you were experiencing the terrible tragedy and nonliving tragedy, when are the twin towers in New York City were attacked in 2001, and you process it through? It came out in your writing what you were doing journaling before, that was kind of a personal thing, but you are now writing in terms of prose and poetry. And that came out for you. And so let's talk about this tragedy that happened to you. And now you're writing now some 20 plus years later about grief. So this is still a part of your life, isn't it about how to process sad events or unfortunate events about how to process them through writing? Is that still a part of what you are all about? All about?
Pat Schoeler 3:58
Yes, actually, after my 911 book, I have a book reflections on life, which took all the poems I've been writing over the years because I worked in the corporate world for 34 years. Okay, so I came in contact with a lot of friends, different circumstances in life. And I would write them down. And again, it came out with everything every aspect of life is in that book, including including Greek, but there's a lot of happy things too, though, and being truthful, I have just as a kid, I've always been very empathetic. So if something happens to someone, I kind of live it right feel it all right, and now it comes down and poems. So the books reflections on life, covers, you know, life that happiness, family who owes every life circumstances there is my latest book grief hurts came about Who was my partner passed away? Okay, and that was my way of working my way through
Dr. Brad Miller 5:07
this. Well, that's a, you've, what you've shared here is that you've had least these two circumstances. Well, there's other things in life that are relatively common. They're tragic, but their common use witnessed a tragic event for a mass disaster, you witnessed at least the aspects of that with the 911 tragedy. And so many of us who can witness tragedies, you know, the COVID crisis being a latest latest one where maybe you were impacted around the world, and we can have empathy for that. So I'm trying to say that's kind of a corporate nature or kind of a communal nature of the tragedy. And he also had a very personal with the loss of your partner, it so what I like to go with here a little bit is how we can learn some things about what you've written about what you've experienced, to kind of both aspects, and how it can be applied to our audience, which are people who have their own situation of pain adversity means that we are dealing with some issue, it might be a mental health issue, it might be a physical health issue, it might be a tragedy, loss of life of someone close to us, could be being in financial debt, any number of things. That could be the case, but we would offer good help for that. What do you think that you've learned out of your experiences? And what you do by writing? What are some of the actions that you took? Or that people might be able to take in order to process? Tragedy, right, first, what are some of the actions that you took, and maybe others can take as well?
Pat Schoeler 6:34
Well, you know, grief is universal, like you said, and it can take all kinds of forms. It's not only death, but it could be loss of a job, it could be married, I mean, grief is universal. And I found going to a grief group did help. Because there's other people going through the same thing. It's actually through them that I decided to kind of share the poems that I had, because I write what I was feeling. And then I would share it with a group and universal thing was, you're able to put into words what we're feeling, we just don't know how to say it. It's a very personal book, it's raw. It's not something you sit down start beginning to end, because it's a process. But the fact that I can help some people with it is really all I wanted to
Dr. Brad Miller 7:33
share, apparently, is three things that what you shared your past, you know, you have to witness and experiencing the tragedy you number one is you wrote about it, you know, you took the action of writing. And you also took the action of being a part of a groups of a group that process this yourself. So work groups, and then it looks like you're giving back to others, you wouldn't you said you want to help other people. So that's a giving back sort of thing. So that's awesome.
Pat Schoeler 8:00
That's, that's kind of my purpose. You know,
Dr. Brad Miller 8:03
and your writing, just following through on that purpose. And that's great. What do you think are some of the when we talk about ultimate stuff, life and death stuff here, which is really what we're talking about? You know, I forget how many people lost their lives in 911. But it was in the 1000s. And really close to 3000. But it continues to this day, you know, there are people with diseases and whatnot that are and mental trauma and generational. it's generational. Now I know incense have passed on the generations of people who grew up without a dad or mom, or whatever the circumstances would be the mental health as parts of this as well as the so there's that and then the loss of your partner and those type of things. It's all life and death issues, or dramatic trauma issues with people going through a divorce or other things. Go to your soul is what I'm trying to get about. So what do you think, are the what are the connections? If any, do you think about having some connection to something greater than itself? It might be religion, it might be meditation, it might be a faith journey. What role does that play in helping people process grief and trauma?
Pat Schoeler 9:13
For me personally, if it wasn't for my faith, I don't think I would be where I am. You know, it's, it's, it's a deep faith. It's, you know,
Dr. Brad Miller 9:23
tell me more. Tell me more how that manifests for you. How does that How do you live that out?
Pat Schoeler 9:30
Okay. I guess maybe I'm very spiritual. Like, I can't quote bible quotes, that sort of thing. I really can't. It's just a spiritual feeling that I have. So that the prayer gives me peace. I believe in heaven. I believe we're all gonna get together again. One day, and I just want to be a good person to others. But like I said, without my faith, I don't think I could
Dr. Brad Miller 9:59
get themes. Are you still? You mentioned journaling as a part of your process? That's still a part of your process did you do?Pat Schoeler:
Oh, yeah. Yes. Because even though I wrote the book I published is up to a certain point. But I would say I'd have at least another 60 poems after that, because Greek hit you, when you least expect it. And it's not always convenient. And it's not always pretty. Let me put it.Dr. Brad Miller:
Yeah, it did things could trigger your grief, Kathy could be a song on the radio, like it'd be I know, seeing somebody in the park and give me a number of things can can trigger your wave of grief. AndPat Schoeler:
so I always have like, either a piece of paper and pencil, or my phone or something. Because when something comes to me, I don't write it down, it's gone. If that makes sense? No, of course, of course it does, you know, something will happen. And then I read it. And that's how I get through that moment.Dr. Brad Miller:
Probably what I'm getting at is a lot a lot of folks myself included, use journaling as kind of a spiritual practice, you know, kind of a practice of going a little deeper into the spiritual life doesn't have to be necessarily scriptural, biblical, but it can be part of the process of journaling. I got my journal right next to me, where I'm sitting at right now. Is a part of that process. Do you agree with that, that can be kind of a spiritual practice journaling?Pat Schoeler:
I totally agree with what you just said, totally. And when you think about it, what we journal and what we put down, you can't always say to someone else. Especially if they're not going through it, they kind of don't get it. At this point. You know, some people that don't know will say, Well, you know, haven't you moved on yet? Or, you know, when are you going to get over it? And these are things you don't, so you internalize.Dr. Brad Miller:
There's certain certain things you shouldn't say, right? There are certain things that should just not helpful. Yes, yeah. So and then maybe there's certain things you can journal about? That is just for you, or for you and your Creator, or just just for you that there are certain things you want to share and certain things you want to keep close? Is that a fair thing to say?Pat Schoeler:
Absolutely. I totally agree.Dr. Brad Miller:
I agree as well. So.Pat Schoeler:
And that's why it was it's very hard. I thought long and long and long and hard, before I published it. But again, like I said, people in the group said, Hey, grief is universal. Everybody's feeling some aspect of it. And if you can help someone else go, Well, I'm not the only one that feels that way.Dr. Brad Miller:
No, that's an area where the group helped you to process it, not only internally, but to share it with others. So yeah, sounds like the group has been important to you in that aspect in terms of not only sharing your story, but sharing your story. Fair enough.Pat Schoeler:
Fair enough. And, and I believe, truthfully, if I can just say this with the grief groups, if you can get into one that is similar to what you're going through, you know, because there's certain, as I said, there's losses that maybe you can't quite connect to.Dr. Brad Miller:
Yeah, well, I, I agree with that. Totally. My, my own father died several years ago, my mother has been in a grief support group for widows pretty much ever since then. And that's been helpful to her. So you want to be able to kind of have proper context, if that's what I'm here to say how to have your grief group?Pat Schoeler:
Yes, you said it perfectly. Yes,Dr. Brad Miller:
let me talk about but we talk about journaling a little bit as a way the process but the way this is emerged for you is through poetry. And I'd like to hear about your process of writing poetry or why why you how that works for you, because I like to think about process. What I mean by that is, certain people go through grief and other things in different ways. You know, so some people exercise for instance, or some people go and just take a you know, take a long trip or something like that. But it sounds to me like poetry has been your way. So tell us about how you have used poetry and maybe how, when you come to write a poem, poem, how does that work for you?Pat Schoeler:
It's kind of simplistic and kind of funny, in a way, because somebody had asked me, Who, what kind of poetry Do you like and who influenced you? And I'm like, This sounds funny, but I don't read poetry. Mine is kind. It comes out like a hallmark chord. In other words, the thought comes out. It just happens to run. But when you read it, you know exactly what you're reading. Because, you know, not saying anything, but some poetry is some so deep that when I'm done with it, I'm like, I don't know what I read it ADr. Brad Miller:
so it sounds to me You're correct me if I'm wrong here It sounds to me. You mentioned becoming now the corporate world for it. So it sounds to me like your background. Like you. Were you a creative writing student in college or this type of thing or whipped up. Tell me about your background, it led you to this to the was that any part of your background?Pat Schoeler:
Because I worked in a business office, so I didn't go to college.Dr. Brad Miller:
So are you telling me the business obviously worked out they weren't having a lot of calls for a poet poetic, you know, sheets of their profit and loss statements or whatever.Pat Schoeler:
I've worked out what's now known as Verizon, but it was New Jersey felt the time Right, right, right. My only creative stuff at that point is when my my friends and employees when they were having kids, I would end up writing their birth announcements, okay. And that that kind of rhyme, like to toDr. Brad Miller:
show you had some creative ways of doing that. It wasn't just happy birthday or happy new baby, it was something creative regarding the people and that kind of thing.Pat Schoeler:
Yeah. So like, whatever their business was, I kind of made it go that.Dr. Brad Miller:
Well. Let's go back to your process. Now. I just was curious about your background, because a lot of people, for instance, my mother is a retired English teacher, and she knows all the, you know, all the these various writing aspects. They're about this, but you come from it from a very practical, pragmatic, heartfelt place. Is that right? Is that right?Pat Schoeler:
Yes. Yeah. My processes like a friend when you were saying about the COVID. You know, that was being a major disaster. Sure. A friend of mine lost her husband in the beginning to COVID. Okay. And she was sharing the story with me. And I ended up crying with her because, you know, being separated from your loved one not being able to be there. But when I came home, I sat down and write this whole poem. And when I showed it to her made her cry war, but it was almost she said, it was almost like you're the one who lost.Dr. Brad Miller:
Yeah. But that that's your empathy showing through, wasn't it? That's awesome. And sharing tears together, means you are have a, I'm just reading it as Now you tell me if I'm right or wrong, but it may lead to some sense of mutual experience, some bonding, that you can kind of have a shared grief experience, if you will. Is that fair?Pat Schoeler:
As fair? Yes. Now, the other day, I'm not sure where this fits in. But you said how it happens.Dr. Brad Miller:
Know how it doesn't? I mentioned that the process you go through? Yes.Pat Schoeler:
The process. I was watching the news the other day, and you know how we have all these problems with violence and things? Oh, yeah. Yep. And for some reason, it just triggered something in me. And I sat down and wrote this long poem about just that process. I'm not sure what to do with it. I don't know what, what book it would fit in. But it helped me to get my frustration to help. But I did show it to a few friends. And they agreed with what it said. You know, basically, it was like, everybody wants to blame everybody else for something. Yeah, rather than taking responsibility ourselves.Dr. Brad Miller:
And sometimes they blame them in a violent, and sometimes fatal way in which is the trench, one of the major tragedies of our time, I think.Pat Schoeler:
And that's kind of, I guess, what I was leading up to that. My book reflections on life does just that it touches everything. But that other poem was my latest one. So my process is, when I hear I'm moved by it, I just ended up writing about it.Dr. Brad Miller:
So you sit down on a piece of paper or your word processor, just do it.Pat Schoeler:
I used to do a piece of paper, which I had with me everywhere. But now with the iPhone and stuff. I just, I write it in an email to myself.Dr. Brad Miller:
Okay, awesome. Awesome. So your latest latest book of poems is and if we'll look for that one, and the next book, I think, but let's talk about grief hurts a little bit and if you don't, if you have it prepared or not, and I should actually do this, but I'd love to hear a poem out of that book if you have that. available. But if not, that's okay. But the any I just wanted to so why did you write this particular book you mentioned about your lose your partner, but who's it for as well?Pat Schoeler:
It was for me, you know those because those poems were very personal getting them out. Yeah, but who's it for? It's for anybody that is experiencing grief of any kind.Pat Schoeler:
I guess it's for anybody who's experiencing grief is the only way thatDr. Brad Miller:
Yeah, well, especially if it's someone sounds to me, especially if it's someone close to them. So would you be in a position To be able to share one of the poems with us and our audience. If not, that's okay. But I wanted to see if you were able to do that.Pat Schoeler:
I have one poll. Let's see if I can try it find it, but it was in a colony reflections thing. ButDr. Brad Miller:
what if you got one to share from reflections or the new book? Either way, it would be great.Pat Schoeler:
Okay. Remember, we were talking about our fate? Yeah. See if I can find. Do I have a second? Just yeah,Dr. Brad Miller:
you're, you're fine. Go ahead, look for it.Pat Schoeler:
Okay. Well, it's to give you a story. It's called a change of address. And it this is a spiritual, because my partner and I were at a funeral in Florida. Okay. And the priest just happened to say that it was a change of address to him. Yeah. Interesting. And everybody kind of laughed when it was said, but it stuck in my mind, like a lot. So, when we got to the car, I said, Please don't say anything. And I took out my piece of paper and pencil. And I had a write down this poem. Well, I'll read it to you, please. I specialize it now. And I give it to family members who have lost someone. Oh, okay. Awesome. Point, there's over 200 that I've given out already. Wonderful. But it's cool to change of address. One bright, sunny day at the funeral for a friend, the priest advised, it's just the beginning. It's not the end. Church registries right after their names, rest in peace. Peace is what we'd wish for our loved ones at the very least. But to him, he says it's just the change of address. This is such a wonderful concept, I must confess, everyone laughed when it was said by the priest. But it's a comforting thought for all who are deceased. Now they feel nothing but love is they laugh and they live? Wouldn't we want this for them if it was for us to give? So we know they are happy in their new home with their loved ones there. And never alone? Why is that? Who asked him is what we're taught to believe? It's God's word. So we must try not to grieve?Dr. Brad Miller:
Well, what a wonderful tribute, as you said, you personalize it in certain situations. And that's great.Pat Schoeler:
Yes. What I do is I put down the date they were born the date, they thought and infographic with their picture and their name. So I insert their name in the poem.Dr. Brad Miller:
Well, what a generous and loving and caring gifts that is, and I appreciate it so much, because I've seen, you know, I've conducted, I don't know exactly how number but over 200 funerals I've conducted in my career as a pastor. And I know those things that are the most meaningful are those very personal things, poems, or readings or reflections like that. And that's, uh, that's awesome. So I appreciate appreciate that. And that, that leads me to kind of how I want to steer our conversation, just for our last couple minutes together. And that is, you really are devoted to giving something back to others, aren't you? Pat, you really want to do that, don't you? So that leads me to just take you know how you've expressed really, you know, real, you're sharing your gift with the world here. So what kind of feedback have you got from others, or tell me more about this to share with the world in any response people have given to you, readers of your book, or friends or family or others who have reflected with you what you've what you've done here.Pat Schoeler:
What I've, especially my family, especially with the change of address, like they'll call to impact that you make one for such and such, right? They've shared my books with people in need, people that I've worked with, also, when they read it, they want to share with others. And that means real to me, because like I said, they said, You made such an so very happy with this particular book or this passage. And that was, it makes me feel good warms my heart. It's a great.Dr. Brad Miller:
It's a great affirmation, and I bet that's part of what keeps you going, doesn't it?Pat Schoeler:
Absolutely. The only thing that's your work, you don't make money off and that's for sure. So I don't that's not what I was looking for at all. Sure.Dr. Brad Miller:
Well, I preach. I just for one perspective as a person who's dealt with and still dealing with people in grief and thanks, I thank you for the gift you're giving. For people in this particular situation in life. It's a gift. It's a true gift and thank you for sharing it out of your own pain. Not everybody is willing to do that after your own personal and your observations and that's, that's a good thing so, So Pat, I think you've got a gift that needs to be shared with others. And so if others are listening to our podcast here today, tell folks how they can find out more about you personally or about your books or how they can get connected to you tell us how people can find you.Pat Schoeler:
I think the easiest way right now is going on Amazon. That seems to be where most of the sales are coming from. Like you went certainly named Patricia shoulder, and then then it comes up with all three books.Dr. Brad Miller:
And your latest book is Grief Hurts. And your name your year? We've been talking as Pat and Brad here but your website? Just give us your website if you don't mind.Pat Schoeler:
www.PatriciaSchoeler.comDr. Brad Miller:
Do you mind spelling that for us so people can get that down?Pat Schoeler:
Sure. P A T R I C I A S C H O E L E RDr. Brad Miller:
And then the .com. Of course Well, we will put I will share that we will put connections. Links to everything about PatriciaSchoeler.com at our website at Dr. Brad miller.com and want to say a word of appreciation for being our guest today. She is the author of three books of poetry which can be helpful to you the latest being Grave Hurts. Her name is Patricia, Pat Schoeler. Thank you for being our guest today on beyond adversity.