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Archive for the ‘Grief and Greiving’ Category

One of the pre-publishing tasks that every author has to confront is writing their bio in a variety of lengths—a few sentences for the back of the book, a few paragraphs for websites (their own and their publishers), and somewhere in between for speaking engagements or publicity appearances.

It sounds like an easy enough task, doesn’t it? Yet I didn’t find it that easy. How do I take my entire life, even that portion that has involved writing, and condense it down to a few sentences that make sense yet will entice people to want to know more?

For instance, I was born and raised in northern Minnesota. . .yes, but there is so much more. I was raised on a farm and went to a high school that had only 27 kids in its graduating class. I road my bicycle on country roads and helped bale hay in the summer and bundled up in many layers in the winter to withstand the 30-40 below temperatures that often visit that part of the country.

I’ve traveled extensively, both nationally and internationally. . .yes, but. . .one of my favorite travel memories is seeing a giraffe in the wilds of Africa for the first time. The giraffe is my favorite animal and I’ve seen them in zoos all around the world, but to see one in its natural habitat brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. And. . .the Tuscan region of Italy touches my soul. If I had to choose anywhere else to live other than the US, it would be Tuscany.

An English teacher in high school helped me recognize my love of words and talent for writing. . .yes, and. . .she was my absolute favorite teacher who saw beyond the exterior of the young farm girl to the dreams that filled my mind and imagination, and to the possibilities of what could be.

Yes, I have written two nonfiction books about grief. . .but what about the agonizing journey that I traveled before writing those books? What about the experience of losing my son and not being sure I could recover from the heart-wrenching blow?

There is so much to each life that just can’t be encapsulated within the lines of a bio, no matter what length or who the person writing it is. But for me as a writer, I always want to tell “the rest of the story,” and with a bio, we leave it up to the readers to hopefully “read between the lines” and want to know more.

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On September 2nd on my drive home from the Decatur Book Festival, I got the news—my mom had passed away. She was 84, had been sick for a while, and was recently in a lot of pain, so it was a blessing for her. But the pain came—little spurting sobs of pain that gushed out from deep inside of me.

It was her time; she was ready to go. . .she said so. But the grief came—great sadness at the realization that my mom was gone.

We had never had a typical mother/daughter relationship. I was the oldest of six in a blue collar family that often struggled to make ends meet. I think she was secretly glad when I left the nest. And for a time in my 30s and 40s, we were estranged, but over the years had grown to respect each other as women. So the sadness came.

I’ve handled tougher losses, my brain kept reminding me. My son was killed in an accident when he was 20—he was here one moment and gone the next. Mom’s passing was not unexpected; it was the natural progression through life. But still the pain came.

Grief has its own path, its own kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions, and for each person in each experience of loss, it is different. But the pain comes.

And then the pain will go—gradually—and sometimes quietly. But it will eventually leave—to be replaced by soft, gentle memories.

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