It has been nearly two years since I’ve shared blog posts on here. Since March 2013 many things have happened in my life. I began work as the director of the Winthrop Library in December of that year, finishing up the final manuscript for my grief book within days of starting a new job. Three of my books were released since then; Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage in April 2014. Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace debuted in October 2014. Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink, co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was released September 8, 2015.
I began a new job as reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper that same month when the local paper was bought out by the company that owned the Telegraph Herald, where I had reigned as Coupon Queen columnist for three years. For four very long weeks, I worked both jobs, spending weekends promoting our book. It was an experience I don’t wish to repeat anytime soon; learning a new job, training someone for my old position, and spending each and every weekend away from home with book-signings, presentations, and letter-writing workshops. My 12-year-old daughter said it best with her wry comment “It’s like we’re orphans,” and I cracked before I’d fully completed training my replacement, making it necessary for my co-author to cover for me at two scheduled events.
I’ve also continued to do workshops and public speaking engagements these past two years. The very first workshop I did was an extreme couponing one in November 2011, and by March of 2012, I’d added writing workshops to the roster of classes I taught through a community college. David was a part of all that, and my biggest supporter. He promised me it was just the beginning, and he was right. The very last coupon workshop I did was in 2015 at the library in the town David had grown up in. When I ran out of my huge stockpile of extra health and beauty items and down-sized from a binder to a purse-sized coupon holder, I decided to retire the couponing workshop.
Like this blog, the couponing workshop could be resurrected at some point, but the power point would need updating, and I’m not sure I have the heart for that; the majority of the slides are from shopping trips I shared with David. In the meantime, I have refined my writing workshops and added grief presentations and letter-writing workshops to my list of speaking topics. I am teaching both beginning writing and advanced book proposal and marketing workshops at a local café the next two weekends and at Hawkeye Community college in Cedar Falls this spring. You can find more information about those under “Upcoming Events” here. As for the grief presentations, I traveled to Dallas this past summer to speak at a Compassionate Friends conference and met a dynamic speaker, Mitch Carmody. I plan on bringing him as a keynote speakerfor a Grief Retreat in Dubuque, Iowa, October 8, 2016.
I did five “Grieving Through the Holidays” presentations this past November. I have two “Finding Hope in Grief” presentations scheduled in the upcoming weeks, and am in the process of organizing that fall grief retreat and forming a local widow/widower support group. I’ve discovered I have a gift for touching the hearts of those who grieve, and I find it healing to utilize it. I believe we are all here on earth to help each other HOME.
I’ve settled into my new job nicely, discovering how much I enjoy hearing other people’s stories. I love being paid to do something that has been a part of my life for over 25 years; writing. I’ve returned to my writing roots as a reporter. In 1992, as a mother of four, I began covering stories for the Independence Journal newspaper, until my fifth child, Matthew, was approximately six months old in 1994. I’ve now come full-circle.
What has surprised me about this job is how often the topic of grief has popped up in totally unrelated interviews. When a distinguished older gentleman was being interviewed about an award he’d won, he waved off the honor, saying people were tired of hearing about other’s accomplishments. When I suggested we talk about his family instead, tears came to his eyes. “How long, and who?” I asked gently, only to discover he’d lost his wife six years before. It was clear he hadn’t expected or wanted the tears, as he brushed them away impatiently. Only when I touched his arm and said “I lost my husband in 2012,” did he relax and let the tears flow freely.
“Then you know,” he whispered with a slight smile.
Yes, I do, and I believe I am a better reporter for it.
It is grief that prompts me to resurrect this blog.
As part of the promotion of Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink, I established another blog, Mary & Me, My co-author and I have strived to make that blog an interesting one to those who would also enjoy our book; blogging about friendship, letter-writing, the co-authoring experience, and book reviews on similar books or those that might include the same topics. I recently looked into the statistics of our shared blog, and in doing so, stumbled upon this blog’s statistics. I was surprised to see I was getting just as many viewers on this inactive blog as I was on our new one. What one topic was uppermost in bringing viewers to marypotterkenyon.wordpress.com? GRIEF.
So there you are. Since I am still speaking and writing about grief, it only makes sense to continue blogging about it, and the topic of grief, while discussed in one chapter of our Mary & Me book, most definitely is not what draws readers to our book or our blog.
I am a part of the Grief Diaries project, led by a wonderful woman I’d met at an Indiana Grief & Hope Convention, Lynda Cheldelin Fell. Fell is president of the National Grief & Hope Coalition, creator and principle author of the Grief Diaries anthology series, a radio/film producer, and an international bestselling author who found herself beginning the long journey through profound grief when her 15 year-old daughter died in a car accident in 2009.
And yes, five years after the death of my mother, nearly four after the death of my husband, and less than three since the death of my grandson, I do continue to grieve. I don’t know, never want to know, the particularly painful loss it must be to lose a child.
One doesn’t “get over” their grief, as is evidenced by the man I interviewed six years after the loss of his wife.
While I don’t expect this blog to be solely dedicated to grieving, it is evidently the topic that brought many people to an inactive blog, and I expect grief will be a frequent guest here. I will be interviewing grief bloggers and reviewing grief books, but I also intend to continue to pen pieces about faith and the craft of writing, as well.