Support groups can be very powerful because they provide an environment where people realize that they are not alone in what they are feeling and there are others who have experienced a similar loss to theirs. The same holds true for published stories of the various losses experienced by people and their grief reactions to these losses. It can be very helpful to someone who is in the acute stages of grief, to read an actual account from someone who went through the same reactions and feelings. These stories provide messages of hope and suggest that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. One such book is, “Hannah’s Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived” by Maria Housden. It is published by Bantam Books and sells for approximately $18.00.
I guess I should begin by sharing how I came across this book. I was attending a seminar on how to help children in grief. The author was one of the participants in the seminar (although I didn’t know she was the author at the time). We were supposed to portray a child we knew that was grieving and the facilitator and groups members would offer advise on how to help this child. The author shared that she was portraying her son, who was grieving the loss of his sister. The author was warm, friendly and unassuming. At the end of the seminar, she offered her book for sale. She shared that it was her grief experience dealing with her three year old daughter’s diagnosis of cancer, the treatments and her ultimate death. Here stood before me a woman who lost a child, a very painful loss to bear, and she appeared calm, self-assured, accomplished and at peace. I had to read her book.
Her story shares all the fears, struggles and sadness that any family that has gone through this situation has experienced. She shares feelings of guilt, anger and family discord. But most importantly she shares the joy, happiness, spirituality and courage that Hannah brought to her and the family in the short time she was here on earth. When people have read this story and shared their thoughts with me, the most common thought is, “Yes, this isn’t going to be easy, but it can be done.” The author even includes her personal e-mail at the back of the book and invites readers to share their thoughts and stories with her. This is an important story for anybody, not just for people who have experienced a loss, because it teaches a lesson on how to live and enjoy each day. This truly is a story of a life fully lived.
Until next week - Be gentle with yourself.