Yes, Mary, I read your book Terminal: Handling the Reality of Love and Loss. A popular “thin read,” I was able to fit it in my purse and carry it about for two weeks. I shared it with a new widow at an art reception at the Hylton Center, in fact.
I was touched by your book, in a way that only one who has experienced loss has. Fifteen years ago, I had to say goodbye to my husband of 16 years. He was 44 years old. I had to enter the emergency room and in one hour I had to tell my two children, ages 12 and 7, that their father was dead, and make a call to my in-laws, to tell them that their only child was gone forever – all three weeks before Christmas. The day before, it seemed like he had the flu. But he had an overwhelming infection that was too much for his impaired immune system (he was in remission from cancer).
So your account of trying to transport a body during the holidays, being faced with a houseful of possessions to deal with, handling emotions and growing up quickly were all too familiar. I had a counselor tell me to put my emotions in a box on the shelf so that I could work the tasks at hand. Trouble is, sometimes the box stays on the shelf, and the feelings get buried for years. When you have multiple losses – in your case, two parents and a miscarriage – you can leave some loved ones unmourned for decades until something triggers or unlocks the box and then the floodgates open.
Reading your book brought back not-so-positive coping strategies: Screaming in my car (no one can hear you), laying down in the elementary school soccer field in my work clothes (not good for panty hose, though the stars were pretty) and drinking shot glasses of frozen vodka (why were friends bringing me alcohol anyway? I dumped full bottles in the trash finally). Becoming a Sunday School teacher helped me crawl back to life and snap out of it. The kids made me laugh. I asked one boy what he thought God was like. He answered, “I think he smells like bacon.”
I think your parents would be proud of your book and how it will help people. It certainly fills a void – there aren’t many books addressed to loss for young adults.
For widows, a good website remains www.widownet.org.
Good luck with your new job, Mary, and balancing work with your family. Keep writing!
Cindy Brookshire is a freelance writer and a member of Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Her blog is http://cookies4nataka.wordpress.com/