Loss and Living Onward. . .To Press

I agree. The cover is elegant. Thank you, designer David Miles.

I agree. The cover is elegant. Thank you, designer David Miles.

In one month my second book, On Loss and Living Onward: Collected Voices, will be in your hands. As I write these words, talented lay-out and cover designers David and Maggie are making last-second tweaks, and sending the manuscript off to press.

Let me admit something: This book has been pushing itself up and out of my very pores for nearly five years.  It’s been close to publication with two other publishing houses. And I’ve been teetering on that slick ledge of giving up on it, oh, 174 times. But I have a persistent (bossy and endearing) cheering committee, and they wouldn’t let me hunker down in the safe retreat of silence.  Finally, this book has found its rightful channel to reach the public.

I am grateful. I am joyful. I am tired.  I am anxious.

Anxious and slightly exhausted smile. . .

Anxious and exhausted smile. . .

When cataclysm erupted in our family’s life, I turned to literature for a community, common experience and spiritual knowledge.  People who know me well know that, with the exception of math, marbled meats and sometimes sleep, I don’t do much half-heartedly. So that same intensity translated into gathering hundreds upon hundreds of statements on loss and grief. Not with a mind to ever publish an anthology, mind you, but with a heart that was stunned to a sputtering speechlessness and needed understanding. I scraped and spelunked through other’s words to speak for and to me. In time, and without having had a plan on the outset to do so, I had the makings of a major tome on grief. Those quotes–at least those for which my publisher could acquire legal permissions– together with 17 of my best personal essays, have evolved into this substantial book. I can hardly wait to get it out there.

I sent a friend and fellow bereaved mother a galley (pre-published) PDF copy. Here’s what she wrote to me just this week:

Dear Melissa,
I’ve had the immense pleasure of spending much of this past weekend with your wonderful book…My husband was not feeling well, so we were both at home, and I read and read.  I can’t tell you how often I picked up my computer and said to my husband, “Read this,”  because you were able to articulate just how I was feeling so much of the time. And you did it so eloquently and beautifully.  You were able to put into words what I felt but could not express and you did this so much better than any other author I have read.
I loved the quotes at the beginning of each section.  I must admit though that I hurried through them so that I could get to your writing.  I do plan to go back and highlight as soon as I get my hard copy.  There were so many wonderful nuggets where I paused and smiled because they nailed feelings I had experienced and interpreted what I was still trying to identify.
One of my favorites was the grief beast section.  My grief beast looks a lot like yours, and now I can put a name and description to it. It’s still lumbering around but it doesn’t come as often as it did before and it doesn’t stay as long.  But I think that now I will talk about that beast to others so they can have a better idea about how awful grief can be.
I can’t imagine how heart wrenching it must have been for you to move to an entirely new country and new community right after Parker’s death.  How did you survive?  I’m so glad that you wrote.  It must have been healing for you, but now it is healing for so many others. Even though you were so alone, you have been able through your writings to reach out to so many.
I’m so grateful that you have such a gift for writing.  All of us who have experienced the loss of a child feel like your book is balm for our grief.  I shed a ton of tears as I read, but I felt so understood and valued. I will read it again and again. Thank you.  Thank you.

You know those emails that make your throat sting and nose prickle like you’d just breathed in a whole room full of dry ice fumes? This one.  If she says it works, I’m convinced. I need that kind of reassurance.  Similar to my fears of publishing Global Mom, I have had some nagging fears for this book, too. What if I turn my son into an artifact? Will I be misunderstood as bitter, gloomy, morbid, or strangely proud of or elitist about our family’s loss? Will my family’s story not be fairly represented? Will I make grief look too easy? Too hard? Too dreamy? Too predictable? Too comprehensible? Too tidy?  Will its most helpful pages not be the ones that were the hardest to write, which were the descriptive ones (my essays), but the most helpful will be the prescriptive ones, which took just a day to whip together (the two appendices with What To Do/ What Not To Do and a suggested readings list)? Will my deep faith and profound, repeated experiences with the spiritual alienate readers who do not, perhaps, consider themselves people of faith, or “spiritual” types? WiIl this book speak with humility the truth I’ve known?

Thank you for visiting the Bradfords. Here, and wherever we are in the world.

 

I’ve run down this list of questions plus a longer one, be assured. But I’ll let you read my writings, and you can decide.

Visit my Loss and Living Onward Facebook Page to find daily updates as well as quotes I could not include in the hard copy itself.

You can preorder now on Amazon, or wait until May 6th to order and receive your stack for yourself and for

US Mother’s Day, May 11th,

and

US Memorial Day May 26th.

 

10 thoughts on “Loss and Living Onward. . .To Press

  1. Melissa, your questions and concern about them reminded me of this quote by Spencer W Kimball, especially the last two lines:

    “Never did the Savior give in expectation. I know of no case in his life in which there was an exchange. He was always the giver, seldom the recipient. Never did he give shoes, hose, or a vehicle; never did he give perfume, a shirt, or a fur wrap. His gifts were of such a nature that the recipient could hardly exchange or return the value. His gifts were rare ones: eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm, and breath to the lifeless. His gifts were opportunity to the downtrodden, freedom to the oppressed, light in the darkness, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing. His friends gave him shelter, food, and love. He gave them of himself, his love, his service, his life. The wise men brought him gold and frankincense. He gave them and all their fellow mortals resurrection, salvation, and eternal life. We should strive to give as he gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift.”

    This book is, as was Global Mom, a gift of yourself and your family to readers both known and unknown to you. In sharing so personally, you increase your vulnerability. But….having given of yourself so freely and beautifully, I have every confidence this book will revered as a sacred and holy read, received with heartfelt gratitude, especially by those who need its comfort and healing. I continue to be a thankful stranger for your example, courage and valiance. Much love xx

    • Lou–
      Thank you. Your words are really so kind. This upcoming book has a more instructive slant to it than Global Mom does. Here, I am deliberately trying to share our experience so that those Innocent to loss can be taught by my narrative, and those Experienced in loss will find solidarity and strength. It’s my way of being a friend to those who are in distress and need. Hopefully, it will reach many. Thanks again-Melissa

  2. I am really looking forward to your book. Pre-ordering now. I have a memoir coming out on Sept 9 called Rare Bird. It is about loss as well. We lost our 12 year old son to a freak drowning accident. My friend Lady Jennie directed me to your page, and I’m grateful she did.

    • And I am coming right back to you, in email, so that we can learn from each other. Your blog, aninchofgray, is beautifully bitter-sweetly evocative and helpful. When the 2nd edition of On Loss and Living Onward releases, I want to include an appendix with Grief BLogs. Yours must be there.

      And our sons.. . .

      How we humans ever keep breathing is a mysterious but painfully benevolent thing. Thank God.

      –Melissa

  3. Dearest Melissa…your questions resonate that fear and anxiety for the birth of the unborn, yet rest assured that so long as your words are genuine, straight from the heart, as I know they are, your awaiting reading audience will embrace this publication for the accolades it so richly deserves.

    You have a profound courage that few in this lifetime will ever conjure Melissa. I’ve shed many tears of my own reading your amazing blog posts and those emotions were definitely deeply heartfelt and real. What you are sharing is strictly your own personal experience and how you worked through it with your family and independently. This is YOUR story, heart, mind and soul. We will all experience loss of loved ones, we pray not that of our own child, and will labour the pain of life’s deliverance each in our own way. These stories need to be told and in your so doing lend each word unequivocally legitimate purpose to the reader in such a profound and moving way that your motivations are neither questionable nor misappropriated in any way.

    From the quote you have shared here there is testament to what I have felt in your words from my very first reading. ..that initial response to your words perhaps the most telling. There is no doubt as to the deep love and affection you had (and will always have) for Parker. His gift to you, your family and the communities you lived and shared with through all these years is an indelible mark of the truest, most heartfelt kind. His spirit lives on, his voice resonates softly in your ears, his embrace forever your most powerful, unconditional comfort and reassurance.

    You do indeed have a gift for the written word Melissa. For those of us who have not experienced similar circumstance your words will lend us guidance in our darkest hour if such fate should ever befall us. For those who have faced this loss of a beloved child they will surely take from your words a comfort and assurance as they move onward from that passing.

    When you look in the mirror, Melissa, you must smile and inhale/exhale the breath and life within yourself and know that Parker’s life was lost and found within your loving expressions on these pages and those you are about to publish. When your head eases into the softness of your night’s pillow sleep well dear friend for you have taken perhaps the most challenging of journeys that most living beings could nor would willingly partake…you have done so with tremendous dignity and humility through the heart, mind and soul of your dear son Parker. What more could anyone ask nor anticipate from a grieving mother, a global mom…a mom with no greater purpose than to feel and share sorrow in Parker’s leaving…and celebration of the gift that was his life in the living.

  4. Reblogged this on Don MacIver; Transitions in Poetry & Verse and commented:
    Melissa Dalton-Bradford writes with of the loss of her beloved son with healing, sorrow and celebration. Life is given and taken away. Read this author’s words to know and understand the beauty and tragedy of her story. Heart-warming, a remarkable journey many of us can relate and empathize with.

    On May 6th embrace the words of Melissa Dalton-Bradford…truly compelling and most reassuring.

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