A CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHOR
Finding Grace: journeys of grief, courage and healing
Q. What inspired you to write the book Finding Grace: journeys of grief, courage and healing?
A. After my first book, Letters for Grace was published I took some down time. I never really expected to write a second book, but during that time I felt as if I was a woman in waiting. It took that time of personal pilgrimage to become more available and open to the voice of grace, heard first while I was writing Letters for Grace. I finally accepted that I was meant to write another book, to immerse myself in Grace – open myself to all its possible signs, accept its place in the human heart, and begin conversations about its power and possibilities. And I was meant to do that while listening to the heart-achingly poignant stories of the bereaved. With that, Finding Grace was born.
Q. How do you suggest readers approach Finding Grace?
A. Anyone who has read my memoir will probably tell you that it is intimate, raw and very personal. Actually, I suppose it was this mother’s cry for help. Finding Grace is less about my personal needs. It centers on stories of loss and pain told by others; I was seeking a way to honor and honestly present the grief and courage of others while talking about grace along the way. I hope readers will approach this work both emotionally and intellectually. The parent stories are meant to help a reader understand and feel intimately the nature of profound loss experienced and expressed by others. The essays are meant to provide both an original and authentic look at the various and complex interactions between grace and grief.
Q. Who should read Finding Grace?
A. When I was writing this book I was surprised at how it eventually unfolded; it was broader and more complex than I expected. Though it began as a way to acknowledge the pain and courage of bereaved parents, it grew to encompass the concept of grace as an overarching guide and help, available in any life. Grief happens when our realities are changed forever by loss. Everyone has experienced this; everyone understands grief. Finding Grace is not limited to those whose lives are shrouded in bereavement. It is for anyone who understands the many and difficult changes that loss exacts in our common life, and who seeks to transform a grief reality into one of acceptance, understanding and peace.
Q. As an author what is your best hope for Finding Grace?
A. As an author my best hope is that this collection of thoughts will be both helpful and inspirational to any who read it. We exist in a complex world, one that demands we acknowledge different ways of thinking, interacting and behaving. We are forever called to balance our best individual hopes and dreams with the realities of such real world complexity. Hopefully, each person who begins Finding Grace will be able to discover phrases, ideas, and new understandings about living in wholeness and peace.
l want each of my readers to eventually realize that the grace of his or her own life is abundantly available and only heartbeats away.
Letters For Grace: One mother's journey
Q. When I first scanned the book I wondered if Grace was a real person, a friend or relative. Did you model the Grace in your memoir after anyone specific? Who is Grace?
A. Grace is, quite simply, a metaphor. The name in the memoir means its spiritual self. I have been fortunate to have grace-filled friends and family members who, at various times, could have stood in for the Grace character in the book. But mostly, Grace is modeled on a concept not a human. I was aching for some mercy, a reprieve from the horrific, ongoing pain of loss, and the blessed relief that I had always been assured grace could give.
Q. You have been called “brave” by some of your readers. They remark on how freely and honestly you seem to have written about the human qualities of grief and loss in your own life. Do you feel it was brave?
A. It takes me aback a little every time I hear that because I never considered the writing itself as an act of bravery. I’m a very private person so actually carrying through with the publishing and distribution of the book certainly made that word resonate for me; opening a tender and fragile decade of my life to others is very out of character for me. Actually, something beyond my understanding pushed me to complete Letters for Grace. Throughout I could never really abandon the project though there were more days than I could count when even walking into the room where I was set up to write was impossible. I think my son, Matt, had something to do with my perseverance. In the book I speak about feeling his foot in my back, urging me forward to complete and publish the work – not only for me, but for him and for others.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish with this memoir?
A. There is a freedom in understanding that when the worst things possible happen to you, it is possible, given time and help, to do more than simply survive. The reason I chart my own steps through grief’s roller coaster ride is so others can hear about the resources I found most useful. My best hope is that we all discover we aren’t alone either in great happiness or great sorrow and that grace is always available.