26 Aug 2016

WHY I WROTE A BOOK

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Documenting my life experiences had never been a compelling reason to write a book, but I could not ignore events and subsequent discoveries. I had to share what I had learned about grief, for my own salvation … and to help others.

The suicide of my son, Justin, took me to unimaginable depths of suffering and despair. Nothing prepared me for his loss, and the consequences.

Ten years later, I was still struggling to rebuild myself. My family and life as I knew it had unravelled. Everything I had taken for granted and relied on was long gone, and the future looked hopeless.

As I sought peace, one path gradually became clear – to understand grief and its effects I first had to understand myself. The journey within led me to my own truth and revealed the path to creating a new life.

The many books I read provided heart-wrenching stories, they offered laments, sad but loving poems in memoriam, words of prayer and hope. Comforting, but there were huge gaps. No specifics were offered, no actions, no tangible steps to move beyond, no ideas for meaningful re-engagement in life.

And so I began documenting my journey and the steps I took to renew myself and to honour Justin’s life. The book – RECOVERY: Learning to love and live after loss – is his legacy.

Acknowledging my mistakes, failures and vulnerabilities in print was cathartic and also revealed the courage and strengths that unexpectedly surfaced. I came to accept and respect Justin’s journey, and my own, as part of the overall story. Indeed, with a deep sense of peace, I have come to know myself and accept myself, gifts without equal.

Ultimately some truths shone through:

  • accept what you cannot change;
  • life is fragile and there are no guarantees;
  • take nothing for granted;
  • self-love before all else;
  • forgiveness and gratitude are keystones;
  • Seek joy

Loss comes in many guises, and from reader’s feedback it seems the book has relevance even for those who’ve suffered abuse, miscarriage, divorce, trauma, retrenchment and the many other aspects of loss. It really is about much more than the death of a loved one. It’s about life fully lived.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that, in order to get to heaven, you need to answer two questions affirmatively:

Has your life brought you Joy?

                Has your life brought Joy to others?

Why not make Joy your primary focus, your main reason for being?