Archive for A Widow’s Awakening Book Posts

Calling All Librarians: Why “A Widow’s Awakening” Needs to be in Your Library

 

“My heart is beating harder and my breathing shorter. I am hugging my husband tighter and kissing him longer. I have burnt supper while reading A Widow’s Awakening. I have read books until wee hours of the night but I have not felt this much about a book before. You are an incredibly gifted writer…I feel like I am right beside you and that I am getting to know your husband and your relationship together. I love how he loved you. I love your writing style, how brilliantly you tie everything together and how you authentically share your soul.”

– Kim Williamson, Cochrane, Alberta

A Widow’s Awakening is touching the heart & soul of readers

After Constable John Petropoulos fell to his death in 2000 while investigating a break and enter complaint, his widow, Maryanne Pope, fell into a free-fall of her own into the depths of grief. Her debut novel, A Widow’s Awakening (BHC Press, 2018) captures her candid journey of learning to accept the unacceptable while transforming loss into positive change.

Engaging, heartbreaking, humorous and brutally honest, this story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and an important addition to any library collection.

Order the e-book through OverDrive until Jan 31st, 2019

Until Jan 31st, the e-book can be ordered through Rakuten OverDrive as part of their Holiday Spectacular Sale.

What readers are saying… 

“Based on a true story, A Widow’s Awakening, is a hauntingly beautiful story of enduring love, overwhelming heartache and discovering resiliency.  With descriptions that are heartfelt, painful and often humorous, author Maryanne Pope artfully paints a picture of what it is like to have your entire world pulled out from under you.” 

– Sharon Ehlers, Grief Reiki

“A Widow’s Awakening expresses the gripping pain of losing someone you love, tragically and unexpectedly. Yes, it’s a novel….but the candid truth of this widow’s suffering is real. It’s Maryanne’s personal story, but it’s more than her story. It’s for anyone who has suffered a tragic loss…she captures the essence of a grieving soul. In a strange way you may feel relief because you’ve had some of those same feelings as she did that others often judge. You realize you are not alone.”

– Robin Chodak, Grief Coach

“I started reading A Widow’s Awakening on Sunday and finished it Monday. The first third of your book touched me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I cried so hard, my eyes became swollen; the pain was so real. I haven’t cried that hard in a long, long time. The grief you expressed was so real to me, as I experienced my own grief in a similar way. Reading your book has been healing for me.” 

– Cristy Hayden, Calgary, Alberta

“I’ve read a lot of books this past year on grief. A Widow’s Awakening was the closest description of my thoughts and feelings. I almost found myself cheering in some places. Finally…someone understands.”

– Karen Adkins

“This fictionalized account of Maryanne’s story is by turns raw and gangly and then elegant and profound.  She leaves her ego at the door and just lays it out bare—she is not precious with herself and gives the reader the whole spectrum of her response, from grandiose delusions to suicidal despair.  The rollercoaster ride of early grief is accounted for with complete candor; her unflinching approach makes for a compelling, although sometimes uncomfortable, tale.”

– Kara Post-Kennedy

“A Widow’s Awakening provides a vivid, heartbreaking reality of the consequences of an unsafe workplace and the personal costs of a workplace fatality. It brings home the message that we must ensure our workplaces are safe, not only for the workers, managers and public on a daily basis but also the Emergency First Responders who may be called there to help. One life lost is one too many.” 

– Laura Synyard

“I just finished “A Widow’s Awakening.” I laughed, I cried, I laughed when I was crying. Reading your touching work has realigned my thinking in a way that Tony Robbins’ “Awaken the Giant Within” and Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and Deepak Chopra’s “The Book of Secrets” all have. You’ve shone a light on many of the same issues I have been wrestling with in terms of writing and making a difference. Thank you!”

– Tim Reynolds, Calgary, Alberta

“Your book, A Widow’s Awakening, arrived Friday afternoon and I spent all of Friday evening reading it. It has been a very long time since I have done that, reading a book cover to cover, crying most of the time. You told your story so well and with such passion that I felt that I was in the room with you…I realize now that I have a great deal of hurt that I haven’t dealt with over the years and how it is my responsibility, like you, to find my true mission/purpose in life.”

– Kathleen Specht

“I am choosing A Widow’s Awakening as our first book club choice. I chose it because it had a deep impact on me. It deals with grief but it also forces us to face many difficult questions, such as the dilemma of mourning someone close to us, while at the same time becoming financially secure as the result of that loss…this is a powerful story that challenges many of our assumptions about grief.”

– Nina Steele, Nonparents.com

Niche Markets & Further Details

There are several key niche markets suitable for A Widow’s Awakening:

#1) Grief, loss, death, dying, widows & widowers

#2) Workplace safety

#3) Police, emergency responders

#4) Self-help, inspirational, empowerment, general reader

#5) Spirituality, Christianity, Feminism

#6) Romance

#7) Memoir

For further information about A Widow’s Awakening, please visit Maryanne’s website, Pink Gazelle Productions Inc and/or BHC Press.

All proceeds go to John Petropoulos Memorial Fund

100% of the proceeds from the first 1000 books sold go to the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund (JPMF), a charity set up in memory of the author’s husband. The JPMF raises public awareness about why and how to ensure workplaces are safe for everyone, including emergency responders.

published in A Widow's Awakening Book, Change, Christmas, Death, Grief, Life After Loss, Saying NO!, Widowhood by Maryanne | November 27, 2018 | No Comment

This the 2nd blog in the Fall 2018 Life After Loss blog series:

Taking Death to Parties – Mentioning Loved Ones Who Have Recently Passed Away

 

Unfortunately, it’s usually up to the person grieving the recent loss of a loved one who gets stuck bringing death to the party. 

’Tis the season for celebrating

But guess what? If you have recently experienced a significant loss, such as the death of a loved one, you may be in a rather fragile state (to say the least) and “getting out of the house and being around other people” is not necessarily the wisest option. But if parties do seem to be in your near future, then read on.

If you have recently lost a loved one and this is your first Christmas without that person:

Please be aware that the people who you are spending the holidays with may not realize the importance of mentioning your loved one. Instead, they may think that by not mentioning him or her, this will be better because they don’t want to ‘hurt you’ or ‘make you cry.’

Now, this may be okay with you…

But if it isn’t and you discover, to your growing disbelief, that everyone is politely avoiding the elephant in the living room—the fact that you have recently lost a significant person (or pet) in your life—you have four choices:

#1. You say nothing and internalize the hurt and anger (not recommended).

#2. You say to someone that not mentioning your loved one really hurts.

#3. You bring up a memory of the person yourself and share it.

#4. You leave—either in agonized silence or after a spectacular hissy-fit (highly recommended… please see below).

If you are hosting a party or family function and one of your guests has recently experienced the loss of a loved one:  

Here’s an excerpt from my book, A Widow’s Awakening, that you might find of use (the following scene took place two months after the sudden death of my 32-year-old husband):

“HE’S GONE!” I scream, “BUT HE’S NOT FORGOTTEN!”

Then I run out of my cousin’s front door, leaving behind a house full of family trying to celebrate my mother’s seventy-fifth birthday. However, since there’s a snowstorm on this particular evening in early December, I have to stop at the front door, after my embarrassing outburst, to put on my jacket, mittens and boots. Only then do I charge down the icy front walkway, stomping as angrily as possible in my new ridiculously high-heeled boots. I climb into my car, slam the door and slowly inch my way home on icy roads.

“They didn’t toast Sam!” I blubber into the phone from my living room.

“Adri?” says Dawson, on the other end of the line. “What’s wrong?”

“I was (sob) at my Mom’s birthday and my family didn’t even include him (sob) in the toast before dinner. I just can’t believe them!”

“Do you want me to come over?”

“Could you?”

A few minutes later the doorbell rings. But it’s not Dawson; it’s Dale’s wife.

“So they sent you, huh?” I say.

“Yup.”

“I’m pretty pissed off.”

“Oh, we gathered that.”

“I can’t believe my own family. Not one person mentioned Sam the whole night – not even at a goddamn toast to my mother.

My sister-in-law winces. “Everybody feels just terrible about that but I think we all figured we’d try and give you a break from the hurt.”

“Hah!” I give a shrill laugh. “Well that certainly didn’t work.”

“You’re right. We screwed up and I’m sorry.”

“Mentioning Sam’s name and talking about him,” I say, “is really important to me because if we don’t, he’ll be forgotten.”

“You do know, Adri, that at that dinner table tonight, Sam was on every single one of our minds?”

I shrug. “If no one says anything, how would I?”

The doorbell rings. I let Dawson in.

“Well,” she says to him. “We messed up.”

“It happens,” he replies. “It’s hard to know what to say sometimes.”

“Here’s a tip then,” I say. “Not mentioning Sam is gonna bury him a hell of a lot faster than the dirt they threw on his grave.”

I get the double-goldfish (both mouths drop open). Is the nice-widow façade finally crumbling?

And there you have it

If you are honest and open with the people who love and support you, then most people will try and do better—if they know better. Unfortunately, it’s usually up to the person grieving the recent loss of a loved one who gets stuck bringing death to the party. Even though loss and grief are facts of life; they can be significantly alleviated when shared memories—instead of avoidance—are put on the table.

Because an elephant in the living room should not be ignored.

Some parties aren’t worth attending anyway

If you feel obligated to socialize during this festive time of year, do be aware that someone’s casual (perhaps callous) remark might feel rather like that elephant has just sat on your chest. This excerpt from A Widow’s Awakening reflects the ultra-sensitive state a newly bereaved person may find themselves in:

At the Christmas party, I soon realize that being the widow of a fallen officer watching her dead husband’s teammates trying to party is a like a drug addict in rehab, watching other addicts shoot up. I’m not emotionally equipped to observe the reality that life is going on without Sam. So off to the buffet I waddle.

With a heaping plate of food in one hand and a beer in the other, I find a seat in the living room and a woman I’ve never seen before sits beside me.

“And who are you?” she asks.

“Umm…my husband was the police officer who just passed away.”

“Oh now, which one was that?” she says loudly, waving her wineglass. “There’s been so many lately, I get them all mixed up!”

Her callous reference is to another other young police officer who died three months before Sam. He’d been struck and killed by a drunk driver on his way home from work, leaving a young widow and two-month old daughter behind. Both Sam and I had been working the night that officer died. I’d taken a report from the officer over the phone a few hours before his death; Sam had attended the scene of his crash.

“When they pulled him from the car,” Sam had said to me the next day, “and I saw his uniform, it was brutal. I was so angry.”

When Sam had first arrived at the collision scene, it was believed there had been two people in the vehicle that hit the officer. So Sam and several other officers had searched for that possible second person. As it turned out, there was only the one person in the vehicle: the drunk driver who died at the scene.

“So you thought there might have been two bad guys?” I’d confirmed with Sam.

“Yeah,” he’d said, “and I totally wanted to catch whoever had done that to him.”

Recalling this conversation now makes me realize that the ‘bad guy’ isn’t always a person. Just because the drunk driver died didn’t mean there wasn’t a bigger issue to be addressed. One less drunk on the road isn’t the end of impaired driving. I think about the map in Sam’s duty-bag, folded open to the location of his death. Maybe it is a clue pointing me in the direction of the ‘bad guy issue,’ whatever that might be.

After the party, Nick, Angela and I trundle clear across the city to yet another one. I still haven’t mastered the use of the word ‘no.’ Friends and family are obviously concerned about me, judging from the number of social invitations coming my way. But the busier I allow myself to be, the more anxious and upset I am when alone again.

‘No’ is one of the most beautiful words in the English language

Consider giving the gift of ‘no’ this Christmas. If you don’t have the energy to bring death to parties, stay at home and focus on activities that bring you some semblance of comfort and joy.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To subscribe to the Life After Loss blog series, please sign up here

 

published in A Widow's Awakening Book, Death, Grief, Life After Loss, Vulnerability by Maryanne | November 21, 2018 | 2 Comments

This is the first blog in the Fall 2018 Life After Loss blog series:

Vu-Vu-Vulnerability

 

Maryanne Pope and Cst Jim Amsing at Cst John Petropoulos’ funeral, Oct 4, 2000, photo by Calgary Sun

“For what it’s worth, seeing you that day was the worst moment of my career. I’ve never seen a human being look so…vulnerable.”

– Excerpt from A Widow’s Awakening by Maryanne Pope

Let’s talk vulnerability, shall we?

When our heart and soul have been shattered into a million pieces, such as in the aftermath of a significant loss, we may find ourselves extremely vulnerable.

But what does this look like? What does vulnerability mean…and why does it matter?

This excerpt from my book, A Widow’s Awakening, captures the moment when I (“Adri”) saw my husband, John (“Sam”), in the hospital for the first time since his fall. I have just been told by the emergency room doctor that he has suffered a massive brain injury. He is in critical condition but stable because he is on life support:

Twenty minutes later, the social worker comes to get me and the two of us walk down the corridor together. I ask him how Sam is doing.

The social worker stops walking, so I do too. “He’s in pretty rough shape, Adri.”

I nod slowly and we resume walking. Then, for just a second, it’s like I split in two. I’m physically beside the social worker yet I’m also watching the two of us walk.

When the social worker and I arrive at a set of doors, he takes my arm. Like arriving at a party too late and entering the banquet room to find the busboys clearing the tables, no one has to tell you it’s over—you just figure it out. By the time I get to the strangely inactive emergency room, they’ve obviously given up on trying to save Sam and are instead merely stabilizing his body.

Since it was the back of his head that struck the concrete, Sam looks much the same as when I saw him last night. Except that now, he’s unconscious, flat on his back, draped in a white sheet and has tubes sprouting out from his chest, neck and arms.

I race to his side and grab his unresponsive hand. I kiss his cheek and the real tears finally arrive, streaming down my face.

“I love you,” I whisper in his ear.

No response.

“I love you.”

Nothing.

“I love you, Sam.”

My silent treatment has been reinstated.

And then it happens again: I’m holding Sam’s hand and yet I’m also observing the two of us from a few feet away.

Then the social worker gently takes my arm and leads what’s left of me out of the emergency room.

And wouldn’t you know it but there actually was someone watching me in that very moment, which I found out about five weeks later. This excerpt sheds light on what vulnerability looks like:

In the pub, I sit beside Sam’s Sergeant, Tom. One of Sam’s teammates sits on the other side of me. I’m halfway through my beer when the teammate asks me how I’m doing.

I shrug. “Hanging in there, I guess.”

“Adri?”

I turn to him. “Yeah?”

“I, uh…I was with Sam in the ambulance.”

I place my beer bottle on the table as the air in this room gets sucked out.

“What was he like?” I ask, terrified of the answer.

“Unconscious.”

The whole time?”

“Yes,” he says. “Sam was completely out of it.”

I nod slowly. I am suddenly extremely thirsty again.

The officer clears his throat. “I was also in the emergency room when they first brought you in to see Sam.”

My most horrific moment comes crashing back. I take a big drink of water.

“And for what it’s worth,” he continues, “seeing you that day was the worst moment of my career. I’ve never seen a human being look so…vulnerable.”

I put down my water glass rather shakily. “That’s a good word for it.”

It’s now been five weeks since Sam’s death and I’m feeling more vulnerable with each passing day.

It was my dad who cautioned me about the potential danger of vulnerability. In this excerpt, we are walking at the dog park:

“Unfortunately, people believe what they want to believe,” my Dad says, “whatever makes them feel better.”

“That’s a pretty shitty thing to tell me right now,” I reply, thinking that feeling better was my main goal at this point.

“I don’t mean to upset you, Adri.”

“Then don’t.”

“On the other hand,” he says, “I’m not going to lie to you about my beliefs.”

“So I see.”

“I’m just concerned about all the religious crap coming at you. You’ve suffered a huge loss and a significant shock. That puts you in a very vulnerable position, so I just want you to be careful about what you choose to believe at this point.”

“I want to be happy again,” I say.

“Then be prepared to do the work to get yourself there because religious beliefs won’t do that for you.”

“They can help.”

My dad shrugs. “It just seems to me that reality itself is far more miraculous than anything we could ever dream up or imagine.”

In this excerpt, my brother Doug (“Harry”) took my Dad’s warning one step further and suggested a tool to use to help protect myself when in such a highly vulnerable state:

After leaving the police station with what remains of Sam’s career neatly divided between a box and a bag, Harry drives me to the cemetery. The two of us stand on the freshly packed dirt, staring at the white wooden cross temporarily marking Sam’s grave.

“I still don’t believe this,” Harry says.

“Oh, it’s pretty real to me now,” I reply, dropping to my knees.

Harry returns to the car to give me some time alone with Sam.

“You are my sunshine,” I sob, rocking back and forth. “My only sunshine…”

“You must be his wife.”

I look up to see an older woman standing beside me. “Yeah.”

“I’m sorry for your loss, dear.”

Oh. Well, thank you. I…”

“But your husband is facing the wrong way,” she says.

“Excuse me?”

“Jesus is coming back from the East—and your husband is facing West.”

Before I can formulate a response, she turns and walks away.

Back at the car, I tell Harry what the crazy lady said.

“That’s why you’ve got your bullshit filters,” he says.

“My what?”

“Your bullshit filters. Just like those big-ass headphones you wear when you’re writing, bullshit filters are your best line of defense against all the crap that’s coming at you. Remember that you choose what you let into your mind.”

But in my experience, when we are vu-vu-vulnerable we aren’t functioning properly. We are a traumatized soul wandering around without the protection of an ego…a turtle without a shell. We don’t have the ability to choose what we let into our mind. We often just grab whatever life preserver is thrown to us – real or imagined – and hope to God we make it through the night, the month, the year.

When we are hurt beyond belief, our vulnerability can be absolutely terrifying…and we will do whatever we have to do in order to feel some semblance of control again. For at the end of the day, isn’t that what being vulnerable really means? To realize that one has absolutely no control over a situation – other than how we react to it.

And an important component of how we choose to react is an awareness – and acceptance – of our vulnerability. A turtle without a shell realizes it is in no shape to take on a tiger.

Five Things to Avoid When in a Vulnerable State

#1. Making important decisions.

#2. Taking on too much (just say NO to unreasonable demands on your time).

#3. Spending time with negative people who drain your precious energy (or with people who seemingly have the answer to your problem…it’s rarely that simple).

#4. Be in a rush to feel better (healing takes time).

#5. Pretending you are okay when you are not.

Related Blogs by Maryanne

Danger Ahead – When the Dark Thoughts Come During Grief

Jesus Takes a Swan Dive – When Grief Goes Off the Deep End

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To subscribe to the Life After Loss blog series, please sign up here