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Marinda Freeman

Marinda Freeman

Corte Madera, California

Marinda has been a licensed spiritual counselor and teacher for 20 years, and has been a life-long spiritual student of many religions and disciplines.

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About the author

Marinda has been a life-long spiritual student of many religions and disciplines, and has been a spiritual counselor and teacher for 20 years.  

She has a successful event design business and for 30 years has offered planning and production services to corporations, businesses, organizations and individual clients.  She has taught clients and classes and has written articles about the principals of event design as the foundation for beautiful, successful and satisfying events.  She is passionate about building community and connection - which is the real purpose of any event.

Marinda has had a life-long passion for food and fashion.  Her first career was fashion merchandising and buying. As a chef, she has taught cooking classes, written and developed recipes, and was Executive Director of Martha Stewart’s catering business. She enjoys entertaining friends and family. Marinda has lived in beautiful Marin County, California since 1991 and raised her daughter there.  

http://www.mfproductions.net
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The Grief Train

A Healing Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal

The book offers spiritual and emotional support for those who find themselves grieving a loved one, especially for those that don’t have a traditional way to address their grief.

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Biography & Memoir love, loss and healing
27,800 words
100% complete
18 publishers interested

Synopsis

In our current culture, there is a deep discomfort with death and dying that people don’t want to talk about our own mortality, and yet – grief seems to be in the zeitgeist.  Sheryl Sandberg’s, Option B, and many other books on grief and loss have been on the bestseller list.  Joyce Maynard recently released a book about the loss of her husband.  Comedian Patton Oswalt’s very publicgrief over the death of his wife captured people’s attention.  The New York Times Book Review did a roundup of books on how to grieve and how to die (June 18, 2017).  

Why are these books so popular?  Our culture doesn’t really give people a way to express or acknowledge their grief.  These books are also popular because Baby Boomers are experiencing the loss of parents, friends, spouses, siblings and children.  People who experience the death of a loved one crave emotional support and ways to work through their grief and loss. That’s what The Grief Train does. It provides a gentle, spiritual, non-religious approach to grief that is different from any other book out there. 

The book shares the story of my husband’s sudden death and my five-year journey through grief to a place of healing.  The book offers spiritual and emotional support for those who find themselves grieving a loved one, especially people who don’t have a traditional or formal way to address their grief.  The healing process in The Grief Train is based on universal spiritual principles.  It reassures readers that there is no “right way” or “wrong way” to experience grief.  You never knows when The Grief Train will stop at your station, however you can be ready and accepting when it arrives. 

The inspiration to write The Grief Train came from the blog I started after my husband’s death. I continued blogging for 5 years. After the first year, I started sharing my blog with others who had experienced a loss and they found it so helpful and hopeful. The book includes blog entries, my personal history, how to create altars, recipes and the insights I gained by researching the grieving process. 

Outline

The Grief Train: A Healing Journey of Love, Loss to Renewal

Part One – The Grief Train Arrives

I had been single for many years when I found the love of my life. We had been married for five years.  On an ordinary day in October, I received a call that he had died suddenly of a heart attack.  In a state of shock, I still had to handle a very demanding business and produce three large events after many months of planning, and then create two separate memorials for my husband, Mike. 

I made an altar with photos of Mike, candles and flowers as a way to focus my grief and sadness.

I cleared Mike’s clothes from our closet, bagged them up and donated most of them to a local organization.  This was not an easy process, it was emotional and I cried while I sorted.  I shared his collection of Hawaiian shirts with friends.  All the men were thrilled to have a piece of Mike as a way to remember him.  I kept a few items I couldn’t part with.  

Part Two – At the Station

I never had the time to grieve, so I started a blog to reflect on my loss. This section tells many stories about the grieving process and how I dealt with the loss through my blog posts. Grief is not a linear process.  I also read many books. I studied the definitions of grief and sadness.  Mostly grief. 

I had my closet re-designed with shelves and rods, which meant I had to empty everything in the closet including all the rest of my husband’s belongings. It was physical work, but also inner work.  In the process of mourning and letting go of his physical items, I was changing on the inside while changing the outside.  

I cooked and remembered all the times my chef husband and I cooked together. I remembered a wonderful dinner we had with friends and wrote out the menu and recipes.  Cooking has always been a meditation to me. Cooking Mike’s recipes was a way to recall the connection we had together.  Seven months after Mike’s death, I gathered with friends on a favorite beach in Hawaii and scattered Mike’s ashes in the water.

Part Three – Departing and Arriving

After the first year, many people think it is easier.  In some ways, I found it gets harder before its gets easier. No longer could I say, “last year we were doing this” after the first anniversary of his death.  In some ways the 2ndyear is more final – when society is saying you should be over it.  There are still many anniversaries to go through.  It can be painful.  I used rituals and ceremonies to honor the anniversary and Mike’s memories.  Included is a recipe of altars – how to create a sacred space, how to think about them and how they can evolve over time.

I went on a trip to Bali with friends and discovered I was still in mourning and had been enveloped in a fog – a cushion of fog, a healing fog cushioning the shock  - that would eventually dissolve . . . over time.

Part Four – Return Journey

After Four Years Five Months, it appeared that I had made a shift.  I had gained a new sense of myself, and a perspective on my mourning and grief.  Everyone has his or her own time frame. It could be 3 years, 5 years or more.  It was time to discard my widow’s weeds.  I didn’t really know what widow’s weeds were but that started me on a journey of exploration of learning about the etiquette of mourning in the 1800’s.  

Harvesting celery, parsley and arugula from my garden, became celery soup, parsley and arugula pesto.  Make something with what you got.  That’s a rule for life, too.  Widow was something I got.  Written that way it sounds like a disease.  It is a dis-ease. Not ease. Not easy. I didn’t plan it but it showed up. The harvest seemed to be reflecting and writing about my experience, process and feelings of being a widow.

Part Five – On Track

I’m off to New York to do more research on mourning at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum with an exhibit, “Death Becomes Her, A Century of Mourning Attire 1815 to 1915.”

I came full circle to my first blog post, looking at why we send flowers.  There were many articles about grief in the New York Times that caught my attention and emotions and I had to write blogs about. Is it grief or loss?  It’s that finality of losing someone we love that is hardest to adjust to. 

I discovered that bereavement and mourning is a station that we can dwell in and not even notice we are still there.  We never know when the Grief Train will stop at our station. We need to be willing to greet that train, to honor and acknowledge it, and sit with it when it arrives.  And be reminded that it is always LOVE that remains

Audience

There is a big gaping hole in our society where we don’t talk about death, dying, grieving and loss.  The reality of death and dying is hitting the baby boomer generation. From being the sandwich generation, taking care of children and their parents, they are now experiencing their parents dying while they are in middle and later middle age. And, there are the deaths of spouses, friends, brothers, sisters and children.

Many people today do not have a traditional or formal way to address grief.   One-fifth of Americans are religiously unaffiliated — higher than at any time in recent U.S. history — and those younger than 30 especially, seem to be drifting from organized religion. A third of young Americans say they don't belong to any religion.

People who are bereft that have not thought of god or spirituality and who do not have a traditional religion to fall back on, do want a ritualized way of experiencing grief. The Grief Train shows them a path with an alternative, gentle approach to spirituality.  One could say it is a more universal approach.  People that do not want formal Christianity will find this book appealing.  Those that practice Buddhism or are part of New Thought communities (Unity, Centers for Spiritual Living, Divine Science) will also be attracted to this book.

People are exploring, wanting to understand and address the issues of death. And, at the same time, there seem to be more books on this topic coming out each year - which indicates that people do want to address this topic. We are only beginning to touch on this subject and it’s going to continue to grow.

There are many books about grieving that are best sellers or have been published many years ago and are still in print.  However, none of them address what The Grief Train does  - sharing an emotional and spiritual journey. There is a deep spiritual connection expressed all the way through the book that gives others permission to take their own individual path of mourning.   

Promotion

I have been active in networking associations, neighborhood organizations and church groups for 20-plus years, as well as developing innumerable business relationships over 30 years.  My book campaign will be promoted widely thorough all these connections and circles of influence, and will also include my Facebook and LInkedin networks.


I have experience speaking in front of groups such as Rotary, BNI and other organizations over many years, and with clients and boards of directors.  I have been in leadership positions with Business Networking International, as well as church board president and managing local school community fundraising events.

Competition

Like Books:

Here are books – recent best sellers and continuing sellers over many years – that are examples of the world’s hunger for the topic of grief and loss.

1)    The Best of Us: A Memoir

By Joyce Maynard

Published 2017

Bloomsbury 

437 pages

List Price: $27.00

Sharing a love story that showed Joyce true partnership and the journey with her husband’s cancer that sadly shortened their marriage . The Best of Usis a heart-wrenching, ultimately life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss.

The Grief Train tells a similar story of a romance and marriage cut short  - with the sudden death of my husband by a massive heart attack.  Diving into the grief and mourning process provided a journey of 5 years I didn’t know I had started with my widows healing blog.

2)    Good Grief, Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn to Live Again

By Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium

Published by Atria Books, March 2017

224 pages HC

This is a book by a medium sharing her knowledge of working with many clients and their loss while connecting to their loved ones that have passed on.  The theme of Spirit’s messages is, “you will grieve your loss for the rest of your life, but healing is something different.”  All expressions of grief are ok.  Theresa shares that Spirit’s grief process includes a path to healing, step by step. She includes an exercise at the end of each chapter.

Those that are interested in Theresa’s book would be interested in The Grief Train, which has a similar spiritual presentation.  I accept that there is the ability to connect with our loved ones after their death.  I had several readings with a medium after my husband died – a month after and at the first and second anniversaries of his death.  It was helpful to connect with him during my grieving process.  I do not include steps of grieving but rather invite the reader to acknowledge that whatever path they are on is fine.  My path is just an example.

3)    The Light of the World, A Memoir

By Elizabeth Alexander

HC April 2015, PB September 2016

Grand Central Publishing

LIST PRICE: $26 HC

224 pages

New York Times Bestseller, First Lady Michelle Obama's Favorite Book of 2015

This is a memoir for anyone who has loved and lost, from acclaimed poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Alexander. Alexander tells a love story.  She reflects on the beauty of her married life with her husband and two sons and explains the shock and trauma resulting from her husband's death. 

In The Grief Train, the story is about what happened when my husband died and primarily about what happened after his death. It includes the ceremonies and memorials and the process of grieving over 5 years time.

4)    Option B, Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy

 by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant 

Published by Knopf April 24, 2017

LIST PRICE: $25.95 HC

226 pages

New York Times bestseller

This self-help book tells the story of Sheryl Sandberg’s sudden loss of her husband and how she had to figure out what life looks like when “option A” is no longer available.  Besides telling her story, she and her co-author provide examples of practical steps one can take and stories of other types of losses.  She shares her vulnerability through the story of her first year after the sudden death of her husband. 

The Grief Train tells the story of the sudden death of my husband, similar to Cheryl’s, but it is not a self-help or how-to book.  Rather, it’s more like a friend telling you her personal story and a reflection of the feelings that arose during the more complete grieving process over 5 year’s time with a spiritual non-denominational focus.  It gives people permission to not have a prescribed response or program to follow, and encourages them to allow their experience to be what it is.  

5)     A Widow's Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First 5 Years

By Kristin Meekhof and James Windell

Published Sourcebooks (November 3, 2015)

List Price: PB $14.99

256 pages PB

When Kristin Meekhof lost her husband to cancer, she discovered what all widows learn: the moment you lose your partner, you must make crucial decisions that will impact the rest of your life. But where do you begin? This inspiring book shows grieving widows what to expect and how to deal with the challenges of losing a life partner. Kristin writes a column for Huffington Post.  With this book she addressed both the practical challenges and provides comfort and advice from other widows going through the first 5 years of widowhood.

The Grief Train addresses what society doesn’t address – the spiritual and emotional aspects of grieving, explained in a gentle way.  Through my example, I give others permission to experience their feelings and their singular process.

18 publishers interested Express interest
Sourcebooks logo Sourcebooks

About Sourcebooks - an independent vision We are a company bound together by the idea that Books. Change. Lives. For us, it means a passion for books and a dedication to the belief that books change lives. It means innovative publishing, where every book is personal and every author’s voice has a place. And it means not being afraid to say “I don’t know” and forging a new path when we have to. We are a group of passionate, energetic and enthusiastic book lovers, and we are committed to helping readers experience each book. Thank you for being a part of our story.

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Black Rose Writing is an independent publishing house that strongly believes in developing a personal relationship with their authors. The Texas-based publishing company doesn't see authors as clients or just another number on a page, but rather as individual people... people who deserve an honest review of their material and to be paid traditional royalties without ever paying any fees to be published.

Black Rose Writing, established in 2006, features books from an array of fiction, non-fiction, and children's book genres, all having one thing in common, an individual's originality and hardship. It can take endless hours to finish a deserving manuscript, and Black Rose Writing applauds each and every author, giving them a chance at their dream. Because Black Rose Writing takes full advantage of modern printing technology, the company has an infinite print run via print-on-demand services.

Black Rose Writing's success with their authors is due mainly to their many lines of promotion, (examples: showcasing book titles at festivals, scheduling book events, flexible marketing programs, and sending out press releases and review copies, etc.) and they provide a broad distribution (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more...) that larger book publishers also reach. We are proud members of IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association), a recognized ITW (International Thriller Writers) publisher, members of Publishers Marketplace, and currently serving on the Ingram Publisher Advisory Board.

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Simple—we have the best authors, the most talented production staff, and we publish each book to see the highest potential of sales and royalties! We are the publisher that others are striving to emulate because we are the most author-friendly publishing house in America! When you become part of the exclusive Isabella Media team, here are a few things you can expect:

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Koehler Books offers you tremendous value, worldwide distribution channels and superior marketing guidance. Our authors span nearly every continent and every region and state in the US, and are consistently recognized nationally and globally for their work. Our titles are broad based and include nearly every major non-fiction and fiction genre.

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Too many beautifully written books are rejected on a regular basis because the submitting author doesn’t have a strong enough author platform.

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Using a unique, goal-oriented approach to publishing, we combine our business and publishing knowledge to help our authors set and attain goals for their readers, their brands and their books.

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The book business is a difficult pursuit. Especially for an Independent writer. The decision to go it alone and self-publish, or go with a small press is strictly an individual business decision. Hiring professional freelance resources like editors, cover designers, and formatters can be daunting enough. Let alone that dreaded marketing and promotion. All of that takes precious time away from what you could be doing. Writing!

With an experienced Literary Agent, award-winning Author, publicist, and publisher like RJ Parker, you don't have to do it alone. RJPP offers years of success and reputation to represent you and your work. Ask yourself, “Do I want to succeed? Is my book worthy of reaping all it is worth and then some?” If you take pride in your work and want to excel to the top, RJ Parker will implement his years of knowledge and skills learned as an industry leader in marketing to get your work into the hands of the people who matter.

What about the nitty-gritty financial workings?

We don't pay advances as a traditional firm does. (which in this business, an advance is used against royalties before you get paid) BUT, we DO pay a much higher royalty rate AND you get paid every month! The standard industry royalty rate is 12-16%. We pay 50% to established writers, and 40% to new authors. (New authors will pay a setup fee). For the majority of authors, we pay the cost of editing, cover artist, ISBN number, formatting, etc.

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If you are looking for mediocrity or status quo, RJ Parker may not be a good fit for you. However, Parker is a go-getter in the industry who will not cease until he makes your dreams become your reality!

Please send your proposal to agent@rjparkerpublishing.com and include:
Book Title
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A brief bio, including your city of residence, and publication history
First two chapters

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1106 Design, LLC logo 1106 Design, LLC

Dear Author,

Congratulations on writing your book!

Options abound in today's publishing world, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between traditional publishers, hybrid publishers, subsidy publishers, and self-publishing companies.

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Atmosphere Press is an independent full-service publisher for books in genres ranging from non-fiction to fiction to poetry to children's picturebooks, with a special emphasis on being an author-friendly approach to getting a book into the world. We're professional, honest, and kind.

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Honesty: because our mission is to be author-friendly, that means always giving honest advice about the ins and outs of the authorial life. We are dedicated to sticking by one of our founding precepts: “if I were the author, what would I want to know?”

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We've now worked with 250+ authors.

Learn more about what we do and see some testimonials here: http://authorsunite.net/packages

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We have helped 250+ authors to get their books self-published, hit the #1 position in the Amazon bestseller charts and also establish their author website & brand to grow their business. And the best thing is, we do all this without taking away your rights and royalties. Our publishing packages start at $699! Let's schedule a call to discuss the next steps in your book project: www.happyselfpublishing.com/scheduler

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At PRESStinely our most paramount purpose as a publishing service organization is to partner with authors and entrepreneurs to bring their creative projects to life. Deciding to be an author is terrific; determining to be a published author is impressive; deciding to properly write, edit, design, market and launch your book is a must. Collaboratively, we strategically move through the publishing process ensuring mistakes are avoided and the end product is not only a book you are proud of but will be used as a tool to build your brand.

Partnering with PRESStinely means you as the author retain all creative control, all future revenues from your book. Our approach is simple -1 - Partner with authors and entrepreneurs to guide them through the entire publishing process. 2 - Customize every package offered to fit each client's needs. Pricing for our partner services vary from $500 USD - $7,500 USD. 3- Provide the vision, skills, and tools necessary to ensure success. When our clients succeeds, we succeed. 4 - Identify gaps and opportunities to build a brand efficiently. 5 - Become our client's “right hand” and bring their creative vision to life.

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Bestsellers are great. Long-term sellers are even better. We'll help you do both.

Project Bestseller is about creating bestsellers. More importantly, it’s about building author platforms and long-term success. We’re building books that sell well over time, generate income for their authors, and create a lasting impact for their readers.

How? The surface answer to this question is:
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A deeper answer is: with strategy, curiosity, and intense passion.

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You can probably think of half a dozen books that have become part of the grain of your life, because they gave you exactly what you needed at the time—whether it was a feeling, an experience, a different perspective, or just the information you needed to unlock your next possibility.

Now it's your turn. We can help you impact your readers with your book. It's what we do.

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ShieldCrest are book publishers based in the UK who fill that vital gap for talented authors where mainstream publishers are unwilling to give them that chance. We strive for excellence and invest in our authors and are listed in FreeIndex as the number one independent publisher in the UK for price quality and service rated author satisfaction. We publish books of all genres including; fiction, historical, biographies and children's books.

ShieldCrest publishing continues to grow rapidly with satisfied authors throughout the UK and overseas. Our range of products includes paperbacks, hardbacks and digitised e-books in all formats used globally in the myriad of e-readers.

In addition to the above, ShieldCrest provides a complete range of services including book design and layout, illustrations, proof reading and editing. For marketing we offer author web page, press releases, social media marketing packages and many other support services to help both first time and experienced authors get their books into the market quickly and maximise on the opportunities available.

These services enable us to guide our authors through the process as we transform their manuscript into a professional book, which can take its place with pride next to any famous author's book of the same genre.

The staff at ShieldCrest have many years experience in the book industry and this wealth of experience is put at the disposal of our authors.

Our clients include established authors such as Diane Marshall who has been acclaimed as the best writing talent to come from Scotland for years by The Scotsman newspaper, and Prof Donald Longmore OBE, who performed the first heart transplant in the UK and has sold thousands of medical books used by students throughout the world. We also recently released "Martin Foran-The Forgotten Man" by J.R. Stephenson, which features fraud within the police, abuse within the prison service and injustices in the courts and has been featured in the press and on TV.

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The Grief Train - Introduction

About Me

            I became a widow on October 21, 2009 when my husband died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was 57 years old.  We had been married less than 5 years with so much ahead of us.  Widow is such a strange word.  When I learned Mike had died, I thought, “I’ve never been a widow before” - a new experience to add to my life.  I had no idea that this experience would be a journey of more than five years.

Why did I start writing?

                  It was suggested to me that I start a blog about being a widow after Mike died, that it might be a good way to process the experience - and to observe my thoughts and feelings.  I’d never written a blog before, although I have done a lot of writing in my career.

                  After a year and a half of writing, I started to share what I had written with others that had experienced loss of a husband, a wife or a sibling. They each told me that reading my blog posts had helped them. Here is a touching example:

                  Marinda,

                  Thank you for sharing such honest deep thoughts and emotions. I have enjoyed reading your entries. Everyone grieves for as long as it takes and maybe the rest of their life. There is no magic pill for healing. I have found learning to manage the pain is the best I can do at times. 

                  Some experiences have a profound impact on our souls. How wonderful you met your soul mate and danced through life together, if even for a short time. It is not often we have such beautiful experiences with another physical being on earth. Mike understood you and your challenges. He supported you 100% and loved you unconditionally. 

                  This is what we grieve, the unconditional love that person had for us. So hard to find from mere mortals. So hard to replace. Keep sharing, as it is beautiful to read about the window into your soul.    Love, P.M.

                  

                  After more time went by, I took a writing class and got feedback that I should turn this into a book  - again to share with others going through the process of loss.  And it is a process.

                  This book is organized chronologically by the progression of time as I went through my journey after Mike died.  I invite you to dip in anywhere that might be helpful to where you are at this moment, or start at the beginning and read straight through. This is not a how-to book, rather more a meditation and noticing of the thoughts and feelings that arose as I moved through my grief and mourning.  I hope this book will help you recognize and navigate the emotions and reflections you may be going through.  May this book be a companion on your healing journey.

When We Mourn

                  In the Op-Ed section of the New York Times, there was an article* I tore it out so I could read it again.  You never know when something sparks an emotion, a thought, a piece of the puzzle I didn’t know was missing.  Here’s the quote that had me pondering:

“When we mourn, isn’t it not just for our relationship with a person, but also for the physical presence of her, of her aliveness? The voice, smell, textures and warmth, the gestures we know intimately, all of these are replaced with their opposites in death.  We are left with a hole that the energy that powered the person through life once filled.”

                  That last sentence nails it.  “We are left with a hole that the energy that powered the person through life once filled.” That’s why I felt empty, at a loss – a loss of presence, of energy, of aliveness when Mike suddenly departed. Yes, with all the mannerisms, habits and behaviors that I loved or drove me crazy but with him gone, I missed them all.

                  When Mike passed on to the “next expression of life”, I knew he was and is fine.  I am the one left to adjust to the change - to learn how to live with that hole that suddenly appeared, and to first feel the feelings of loss, of sadness, of whatever I am feeling.  Feeling my feelings was not a practice I learned growing up or during most of my life.  I was more focused on action, doing and thinking.  In the last ten to fifteen years, I have learned more about feeling my feelings – to even being aware of what my feelings are rather than what I think. 

                  In every experience, I know there is a gift.  Some call it a silver lining.  Mike’s death gave me the gift of learning to really accept my feelings, to dive down deep into them, and to be present with my feelings - to allow them.  Our society doesn’t always encourage us to stop and feel our feelings.  We have to move on.  What’s next? Keep on keeping on, rather than stopping – to pause and ask, what am I feeling now?  Sometimes, especially in the first 2 to 3 years, feelings of grief would come like a wave that crashed over me and I would be overcome with the grief and sadness.    Only after developing a practice of diving into the waves of my feelings, could I discover how to collect the energy, the aliveness that was Mike and bring it into my heart to fill that hole.  What I have learned is that this process happens over time.  It’s not a quick fix.  Years, it takes years – and that’s ok.

*The New York Times, Sunday, November 2, 2014, Wild Messengers, by Jennifer S. Holland, a National Geographic contributor, and the author most recently, of Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart


Second Anniversary

October 21, 2011

It felt necessary to have a ceremony for the Second Anniversary of Mike’s death.  I know that a ceremony can anchor time and place. For this occasion, it allows me to bring forward my memories of Mike, to honor him and acknowledge that two years had now passed.  It seemed like yesterday and a long time ago at the same time. Why a ceremony for the second anniversary?  When the first anniversary arrived, I could close the door on remembering what we had been doing together the year before at each time during that first year. With the second anniversary, there was more finality – at least that is how it seemed to me.  No more harking back to what we had been doing.  I had now filled in the space of two years without him.   

My friend and minister, Katherine, suggested we create an altar and put things that Mike liked on it. Just the act of creating the altar was a ceremony giving me time to honor and think about Mike.  I decided to use the coffee table in the living room – and I “set the table” for Mike with things he valued and that I valued about him.  I placed his favorite sarong with shades of teal and red on the table with the red beads he always wore with it when we sat in our meditation circle.  Mike had lived in Thailand for two years and found sarongs more comfortable than jeans. When we would attend a day-long meditation retreat together, something we did two to three times a year, he would change from his jeans to a sarong.  I still go – it is so grounding and centering – and, I miss Mike sitting in the circle. 

I collected photos - of our wedding day, a picture of Mike happy in Hawaii, one with two of his sisters, Moira and Cecelie, and a copy of his memorial program.  I framed his Hawaii photo with large dark pink hydrangea from the garden.  I opened a bottle of Mike’s red wine (he didn’t get to drink all those bottles he had collected and saved) and set out three glasses – for Katherine, Mike and me.  Mike loved wine and cheese so I served goat cheese with my homemade apricot chutney, crackers and fresh figs.  I poured the wine into Mike’s beautiful crystal decanter and then into our glasses.  I lit the votive candles.  Now we were ready to start the ceremony.  

We stood in front of the altar and toasted Mike with his delicious red wine.  Katherine read some quotes – here are a couple of them I really appreciated.  I think of them as prayers.

There’s a Buddhist Sutra, or sacred text that says: 

"Everything that has the nature to arise has the nature to pass away. The person who knows this in their heart knows true happiness."

This quote by Paramahansa Yogananda is one of my favorites:

The body is only a garment.  

How many times have you changed your clothing in this life? 

Yet because of this you would not say that YOU have changed.  

Similarly, when you give up this bodily dress at death you do not change.  

You are just the same, an immortal soul, a child of God.”

We both shared remembrances of Mike.  I spoke of happy times I had with Mike, entertaining our friends over dinners, cooking in the kitchen together, chilling out on the back deck in the summer with Mike’s constant companion, our black cat, Thunder.  Thunder would hang out wherever Mike was and follow him around. Mike had so many stories having lived all over the world for 30 years managing multi-billion dollar construction projects.  Besides Thailand, he lived in Venezuela, Scotland, Saudi Arabia to name just a few. I was amazed at the stories he told about surviving a helicopter crash into the Gulf of Mexico, a train accident, a sinking boat, and a plane accident.  I figured he was a good bet to stay around awhile if he had survived all that.

Katherine remembered the time she joined us to watch a movie with on the big screen in our living room.  She noticed how connected we were with each other.  Katherine said she had never seen me in such an aligned and comfortable relationship, and she had known me for many years.  We both enjoyed the cheese and chutney on crackers and the figs with our delicious wine.  I knew Mike would appreciate the offerings . . . and the stories. 

A Little More About Altars

I have always created altars in my home – in my bedroom, living room and even outside.  I started by creating beauty and beautiful arrangements of loved items and candles.  I did this for years before I realized they were altars.  For me, it is a space to honor the beauty of life, and perhaps, both the seen and the unseen of life.  Crystals, candles, flowers or plants and objects of importance to me are included. Found objects, too, like a beautiful leaf or a heart-shaped rock will get added.  It is always evolving and changing – reflecting that I am, too. 

I have found that when someone I love has passed, I immediately am drawn to create an altar space with photos of that loved one, with other mementos and flowers, and a candle or two or three.  This provides a focus for me to honor them and to physically ground that I am holding them in my heart. It is a place and a space for remembrance. When my friend, Jane, who was like my second mother died, I kept her altar for a year.  With Mike, I have moved my altar to different places.  At first, his pictures and other items were on my bedroom altar  - on top of a large chest of drawers – with candles and a statue of Ganesha I bought him in Bali.  For the first few months, I also created an altar space in the living room.  After this ceremony for the second anniversary of his death, I put the photos on a shelf in my walk-in closet and added miniature statues of Indian Gods and Goddesses.  This altar is still there, right above my dresser in the closet.  A place of my memories of Mike that I see every day. 

When we to put our cat, Clare, down, I printed out some photos of her and created an altar in the front hall - right in the center of the house - with flowers and a sculpture of a sleeping cat with wings I had found.  Clare was 16 years old and had been in our family for 14 years.  This was an important way for my daughter and me to acknowledge this sad passing in our lives.   During this time a friend died and I put her photo on the altar with Clare.  After 5 months, I moved the altar - with all the photos - to a new place in the living room.  It didn’t need to be the first thing we saw when we entered the house anymore. The sculpture of the sleeping cat with wings was eventually placed on her grave at my friend’s house in the country. 



  • Update #3 - Successful Campaign! April 15, 2019

    A big THANK YOU to you for supporting my book with your pre-order!  

    My campaign was successful and I reached my goal.  I SO appreciated your help ...


  • Update #2 - Countdown - 3 days left! April 12, 2019

    Thank you SO much for pre-ordering my book and supporting this process to get my book published so that it can help others that have experienced grief and loss ...


  • Update #1 - Thank you for pre-ordering my book! April 1, 2019

    I am now half way through my 30-day campaign to secure pre-orders for my book, The Grief Train, A Healing Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal ...


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