Tag: grief

Something for Everyone in I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

Once you pick up this book from Julie Hunt, skip right to chapter 25 and you’ll see why a review of it appears on my “No Fear This Year” blog. I’M ABOUT TO GET UP is a memoir about grief written from a Christian perspective, but it has nuggets of truth to help anyone who wrings their hands when faced with death.

You’re at the funeral, next in line. The family stands there, red-rimmed eyes glistening with tears, hugging each person in turn. What will you say?

I’ll confess that I avoided a number of funerals in my younger years just because I couldn’t imagine how I would interact with the grieving family.

Until I was the grieving family. And I heard those cliché phrases that meant nothing or experienced the deep comfort of a wordless hug.


about_to_get_up_coverThis book came to me before it released to the public. A publicist whose newsletter I follow invited me to be on the “launch team” for the book.

Since I’m intermittently writing my own grief memoir-ish book, I thought reading one would give me an idea how other approach the topic.

I’ll admit, it was difficult to read the book in December. Christmas has been a difficult time since 2009 when my grandmother graduated to Heaven a few days before the holiday.

Julie’s experiences are raw and real. She pulls you in to the Rainy Day with her and the grief she depicts resonates. It was too close to my own heart some days, so it took me a few weeks to get through the less-than-200-page book.

If you read nothing else, read the appendices. Here Julie lists all the things people want to know, the “where the rubber meets the road” practical things. Like what you can do for a grieving person, what NOT to say at the funeral (or any other time) and words that do offer help or hope.

In a world where people want to sweep the grieving process under the carpet, this book is just the dose of reality we need.

My Review

It was obvious from early in the book that Julie’s religious beliefs differed from mine. There were moments when my eyebrows scraped my scalp as I thought, “They did what?!”

Still, that’s not what this book is about. And Julie didn’t defend or expound on her specific spiritual ideals. Well, not the ones that had me gawping. The ones that had to do with facing grief head on? Yep, those she tackles.

Nothing can prepare you for the death of a loved one. I speak from experience at the bedside of a terminally ill mother. When they go, you grieve. A part of you shatters and needs time and care to be repurposed.

Julie goes chronologically through her own grieving process. This approach worked well, making the book read like a novel. If you like “based on actual events” reading, this book fits that bill.

Advice and encouragement for both those struck by grief and those attempting to minister to them is sprinkled throughout the prose. You won’t find sermonizing or patronizing in these pages.

In fact, the best part of the book is the practical, pro-active lists given in the epilogue and appendices.

I give four out of five stars to this book.

My Recommendation

This book is a must-read for every person in ministry. The glimpse inside a grieving heart will offer the best hands-on training a person could get without facing an actual death in the family.

Julie admits that she couldn’t read books when she was grieving, but I think this book is the sort that could be read to a grieving person. It is certainly an exceptional handbook for someone who fumbles with how to comfort others in the face of loss.

If you’ve been grieving a loss for a while and feel like the pain is still more raw than it should be, pick up this book. I promise you’ll see yourself reflected from a page or chapter, and you’ll be able to take the next step toward healing.

Thank you, Julie Hunt, for being real with all of us. Your journey will empower others so they can get up and get back to living.

What books helped you deal with grief and loss on a practical level?

Bleeding on the Page. Thanks for the advice, Hemingway!

Writing is easy. All you have to do is bleed on the page.

And if you’ve been writing for any length of time, you know how true this sentiment is. It’s the reason many people keep their written words hidden.

I poured my heart and soul on that page. If someone laughs or scorns after they’ve read it, my soul will shrivel into a ball and die a slow, agonizing death.

Yes, I’m a writer so hyperbole is to be expected.

I try not to bore you with my writing stuff all the time. But I’ve been bleeding so much in recent weeks, I need a transfusion. I figured maybe some of my readers would step up to the plate and offer to donate to me.

A Grief Memoir

The nonfiction project I’m currently working on has been brewing in my heart, mind and imagination since February 2014.

I had attended my mother’s funeral a week before. The day I had my first thought about this book, my husband and I were plodding through the snow on our way home from another funeral.

I wished there was a book I could read that would make all my crazy feelings make sense. Or at least, if they couldn’t make sense I’d realize I wasn’t alone in feeling them.

And I reached for some books for those in grief. And they didn’t have what I needed.

And since…


I began making notes about what I wished would be inside this book.

It needed to be part memoir because I wanted to get inside the heart of another person who was going through the grieving process. And it needed to offer hope, so I figured that meant it should be part Bible devotional or study.

As the idea evolved, I decided not to include study questions. I opened each chapter with a vignette or two from my personal experience grieving people I loved and lost.

The second half of the chapter would be my expository thoughts on Bible stories, passages or characters who went through something similar. Or who offered me hope as I was facing the dark forest of grief.

Even though I began researching for the book in Spring 2014, I never wrote any words in it until 2015. And it took a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

So I shelved the project.

The delightful thing about a nonfiction book like this is that I only need to write three chapters to market it to agents. I have the first draft of those chapters and a rough book proposal. Before this year is out, I will sent this project out to agents.

And it still doesn’t have a title.

What would you call it?

Elephant in the Tearoom

Concurrently, I’ve finished the full-length first draft of a short story I wrote during National Novel Writing Month in 2014.

Three women take a pilgrimage to Victoria B.C. in honor of the mother who planned the trip. Of course, they’re all carrying secrets and extra baggage that no one knows about.

This is women’s fiction at its finest. But it also takes an auto-biographical moment and converts it into fiction. And I’m not the only “real” person to star in the novel.

So, I obtained approval from the other two women who people will assume the story is about.

Folks, it’s fiction. I write stories. While the premise in this book is based on a trip that my mother planned, the trip never happened. Every event in the story is made up.

The emotions behind the story? Those are real. Because if the writing doesn’t bring tears to my eyes, I can’t expect my readers to cry.

And once again, there was a story that could benefit the world. So…


Both of these projects are tapping into my memories of times of loss. Doing that is putting me back through the five stages of loss.

And it’s emotionally grueling.

In fact, some days I think training for a marathon would be simpler.

And only insane people think running 26 miles is a good idea.

When have you felt like a project required your heart and soul? Any encouraging “blood transfusions” to offer me?

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There’s so much to be thankful for this year

Givethanks sunrise

If you had asked me in January if I thought 2014 was going to be a good year. My answer would have be a solid no.

After all, who wants to say goodbye to their mother? Watch so many in the family weep? Wake up in tears for weeks on end (if able to sleep at all)?

But God is faithful. He felt my wounds and wanted to comfort me.

This year, I have surged forward in my writing career. Am I published? Not yet. But I do have a publishing contract (more on that later).

I am also in the process of gaining a daughter (maybe two if my other son can figure out what he wants to do). I love my sons. I’m especially grateful not to have shared my home with hormonal teenage girls. I’m excited about getting a fully grown daughter!

There is so much to be thankful for – aside from the rudimentary things: life, air to breath, roof over my head, car to drive.

I know a few of my regular readers have had some struggles this year, too. I hope they’ll chime in and share a blessing or two in the comments.

What are you thankful for this year?

The Double-Edged Sword of Grief

Slice on the forehand and the backhand. Dice with a downward stroke and an upward cut. The thing no one tells you about the grieving process is that its quite similar to a two-edged gladius. Yes, I’m claiming an emotion cuts like a double-edged sword.

She’s finally fallen off her rocker. What sane person would compare grief to a weapon? Perhaps one who is crazy with grief over the loss of someone irreplaceable.

Grief isn’t meant to be a weapon although it does hurt. The analogy isn’t based on the use of the sword but the quality of its edges. It is sharp. No matter how you touch it, you will bleed.

Ah, grief. No matter how you approach it, the edge is sharp and your heart pays the price in red currency.

Case in point: A photograph

Original image from Gospel Bondservant
Original image from Gospel Bondservant

Nothing especially hurtful about a picture of smiling people gathered around a Christmas tree. Except when you realize there can never be another one. Not starring the same cast.

Nope. Can’t recreate it next year. One important person will never attend another family gathering. That place is empty. Like my soul when I reflect upon it.

Looking at a happy moment brings a smile. Then a tear. It cuts both ways.

How can you smile at a time like this?

I have hope that pain is ended and vitality restored. No rainfall mars a walk and no nightfall ends a blissful gathering.

Who can not smile when envisioning such paradise?

Tears fall on the upturned lips. Rain showers on a sunny day. A paradox.

And still it aches. I’m laughing at the recollection but my heart squeezes into the empty juice glass. Grief draws blood during memories.

Case in Point: Success

A new day sheds rays of hope. Time marches onward. Goals can finally be checked off the bucket list. Accomplishments attained after decades of unfulfilled dreaming.

An un-mar-able moment, right? Joy sputters on the empty tank of a special someone no longer present to share it. Grief spills guts while life marches on.

Two edges, you see. If I remember, it hurts. Whether I recall it with laughter or tears, the wound is opened. In a forgetful moment, triumph blasts an exultant peal. Even in victory, defeat comes with the penetrating blade.

Eventually, I’ll find the protective sheath (a scabbard – because the wound will scab over?) for the sword of grief. Time and distance will dull the edge.

Thus another paradox is born. The dull knife hurts worse than the sharpened one.

Irony or agony? Don’t worry. There’s a double-edged sword for that, too.