If you pay attention to commercials, the holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. But it is hard to celebrate when grieving.
Have you seen or read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed? When I first picked it up, I thought it would be about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve hiked sections of the trail in Oregon and instantly connected with her heavy pack and blistered feet. And to be straight, it is about hiking the trail, but Strayed’s true journey is one through her own grief. Not long before Strayed tackles the trail, she lost her mother to cancer and every step she takes is a painful passage of grief.
Harriet Hodges, WriteLife Publishing author of “Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After” says, “I read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and loved it. As soon as I had read a few chapters, I realized it was about a grief journey. Everyone experiences grief, yet as a culture, Americans tend to avoid it. We don’t want to hear about it or talk about it. Maybe the book and movie will start some overdue family discussions. Strayed coped with her mother’s death by going on an intense, demanding, dangerous activity – walking the Pacific Crest Trail. The message of the book could be summarized in a couple of sentences found on page 29. Strayed says her mother will always be her mother, not the person buried in the ground. “I’d put her somewhere else,” Strayed writes. “The only place I could reach her. In me.” At the end of her hike Strayed has discovered her new self — perhaps her true self.”
While Strayed had the opportunity to hike and heal along 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, not everyone has the same opportunity. When the holidays arrive, there is someone that we each miss. Whether it is a child, a parent, a sibling or a best friend, the loss is real and painful and each memory making moment of the holidays can be a reminder of their absence.
If there is someone you’re especially missing during this holiday season, here are a few books by WriteLife Publishing that will comfort you through your grieving journey.
Flowing with the Go by Elena Stowell – For what seemed like a lifetime and probably was, Elena Stowell wandered aimlessly in a personal prison of self-doubt and lack of purpose after her fifteen-year-old daughter Carly died suddenly before her eyes. By some combination of miracle and necessity, she walked into a Seattle area Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym and rolled for the first time in her life. Through that experience and others that followed, Elena discovered the tenets of the martial art form and healing were the same. With a ripping raw honesty and refreshing balance of humor and introspection, Elena’s story reminds us to never stop panning for the gold within ourselves.
Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life after Loss – Will I survive? Will I ever be happy again? These are questions that Harriet Hodgson asked herself after she was left to raise her twin grandchildren, while grieving for four family members, including her daughter. Harriet reminds us that we are not alone in our grief and, though losses may define our lives, they will not destroy them.
For A Grieving Heart – by Terri Ann Leidich When someone is grieving over the loss of a loved one, it is often hard to know how to be there for them, even though we want to. With the poetry and verse she wrote during her own journey through the grief of losing her son, along with photography that supports the emotion of her words, Terri Ann Leidich has created a book that can speak for us. Designed to be a gift for someone in grief, this book puts words to emotions, gives feelings to the confusion, and lends hope at a time that can feel hopeless.
From a Grieving Mother’s Heart – When Terri Ann Leidich’s twenty-year-old son was suddenly killed in a vehicle accident, she was thrown into the roller coaster agony of grief. Adapted from the journal she kept through the experience of her horrendous loss, this book is a roadmap for parents who have lost children, as well as for those who are on the sidelines, watching the agony of someone they care about and not knowing what to do or how to help.
Terri Ann’s ability to put emotions and experiences into words that everyone can understand and relate to can shine as a beacon of hope and understanding during a time of excruciating pain.
And here is your holiday challenge: reach out to someone this holiday season. There must be an old friend, a relative across the country or a neighbor from a past neighborhood who would love a phone call from you. Sometimes renewing a lost connection or helping another through their loss is the best way to share the true meaning of the season.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from BQB and WriteLife Publishing!