Archive for Death Posts

A Widow’s Awakening Novel is Now Available!

 

“I fear acceptance of his death because I know that will lead to apathy. Somehow positive change has to come out of this.”

– Maryanne Pope, A Widow’s Awakening

100% of proceeds from first 1000 copies sold goes to JPMF

On September 29th, 2000, Cst John Petropoulos of the Calgary Police Service fell to his death during the investigation of a break and enter complaint at a warehouse. John was searching the mezzanine level when he stepped through an unmarked false ceiling, fell nine feet into the lunchroom below and died of brain injuries.

There was no safety railing in place to warn him – or anyone else – of the danger. There ended up being no intruder in the building; it was a false alarm.

John was 32. We both were. So began my journey as a young widow.

About the JPMF

Shortly after John’s death, several of his police recruit classmates started the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund (JPMF). 18 years later the JPMF is still going strong. The Fund is a registered Canadian charity that raises public awareness about why and how to ensure workplaces are safe for everyone, including emergency responders.

For further information and/or to view the JPMF’s safety videos and public service announcements, please visit the JPMF website.

Since John’s death in 2000, thousands and thousands of people have died at work or as the result of an occupational-related illness. Thousands more have been seriously impacted by life-altering injuries.

About A Widow’s Awakening

September 29th, 2000 was the worst day of my life…and to be perfectly honest, things got a lot worse before they began to get better. When John died, I lost my husband, best friend, lover, soul mate and my biggest fan. I was beyond devastated; something deep inside me had broken and I didn’t know how to fix it.

A Widow’s Awakening captures the tumultuous first year of my grief. It is a candid story about my search to find meaning in John’s death while learning how to accept the unacceptable and transform loss into positive change – both through the workplace safety educational initiatives of the JPMF as well as through my own life and my writing.

To become a writer was my life long dream. John’s dream had been to become a police officer. Paradoxically, his line of duty death gave me the financial freedom to write…and the kick in the ass I needed to do the work.

A bit of background about the book

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may be aware that A Widow’s Awakening was originally self-published as a creative non-fiction book in 2008. Over the next decade, it sold 2000 copies. In 2017, the publisher BHC Press picked it up for publication and is releasing it on September 13th, 2018 as a fictional novel based on a true story.

The novel is very similar in style and content to the creative non-fiction edition. There have been a few editorial changes plus a new afterword and, of course, a beautiful new cover!

To order the book

A Widow’s Awakening is available in print (softcover) and as an e-book. For a list of on-line retailers where the book is available, please visit the A Widow’s Awakening page at BHC Press.

If you would like to purchase a signed copy of the print book ($19.95 plus $5 shipping), you can order it through the Pink Gazelle store or the JPMF storeAll proceeds from the first 1000 copies sold goes to JPMF.

What readers are saying

Over the years, I am honoured to have heard back from dozens of readers with their thoughts on the book. Please click here to read some of the testimonials.

Here are a few reviews from the advance reading copy of the novel:

“As a safety professional and a Threads of Life volunteer, I recommend reading “A Widow’s Awakening.” It 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

“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

For further information

For further details about the book, including a list of niche markets, please visit the A Widow’s Awakening home page on the Pink Gazelle site.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. She is the executive producer of the documentary, Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here. Maryanne lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

 

published in Book Reviews, Change, Death, Grief, Inspiration, Life After Loss by Maryanne | August 7, 2018 | 4 Comments

Note: At the time of writing this blog (Aug 7th, 2018) Yosemite National Park is closed due to the Ferguson wildfire. Thousands of tourists have been evacuated and two firefighters have died. My thoughts & prayers go out to the family, friends and colleagues of the firefighters.

The Healing Power of Nature – Mountains of Light Book Review

 

“I want to simplify my life so that I’m not worn out and frustrated at the end of every workday. I want to move at a pace that helps me notice what is around me and gives me the chance to interact with it.”

– R. Mark Liebenow, Mountains of Light

Looking for a late-summer read?

I recently finished Mark Liebenow’s beautiful book, Mountains of Light; Seasons of Reflection in Yosemite. I have always wanted to visit Yosemite National Park. After reading Mark’s book, now I really want to go!

This non-fiction read is about Mark’s journey of coming to terms with the death of his wife, Evelyn. It is in nature – through repeated visits at different times of the year to Yosemite – where Mark finds peace with his wife’s passing.

This makes sense. In my experience, spending time in nature and/or with animals seem to be able to soothe chaotic thoughts and emotional turmoil like nothing else.

Here are a few snippets from Mountains of Light:

“I feel edgy and certain of my mortality. I came here wanting Yosemite to shake me out of my stupor and help me face death. And it has, but it feels like Yosemite wants to do this by having me listen to its stories.”

“Mark Twain regretted knowing what lay beneath the swells in the water as he learned to guide riverboats down the Mississippi River because he no longer saw its beauty.”

Part of me no longer cares why natural places affect me so deeply, and I’m not really concerned about what does or doesn’t have a soul. If I say that every part of creation reveals something about nature’s reality then I’m challenged to look at everything with respect and find insights…the wild outdoors simply inspire me.” 

Another observation that struck me about Mark’s book was the significant difference between how he chose to share his grief, through his story, and how I shared my experience with grief in my book, A Widow’s Awakening.

I’m not sure whether this is a gender thing or not i.e. do women tend to be more open than men about sharing the details of their emotional journey?

In A Widow’s Awakening, I yank the lid right off Pandora’s Box of Grief and let it ALL out: the devastation, the hurt, the hatred, self-pity, anger, jealousy, bitterness…the confusing thoughts, conflicting emotions and spiritual isolation.

To be honest, I haven’t read that many books about grief, so I found Mark’s candid but subtle journey intriguing. There was definitely a sense of inner struggle as he tried to come to peace with his wife’s passing but it was rather enlightening to read a personal memoir by an author who I suspect is an extremely private person. The depth of his loss and subsequent sorrow is immense; how he chose to communicate that loss to his reader was very different to my approach.

And that’s a good thing.

For everyone grieves differently. And different authors approach the same subject matter in their own unique way. And yet, despite our differences – as people, as writers – we are still able to find the common threads of love, loss, passion and peace.

“Evelyn’s presence is always with me, especially when I spend time at Happy Isles, her favourite place in the valley. I’m surrounded by the words of John Muir, as well as by owl and hawk, mountain lion and bear, raven and jay, coyote and ouzel, which often show up unexpectedly with surprising inflections of wisdom. I’ve finally accepted that death is a necessary part of life and that I have had to turn away from home and live in the backcountry of stone for a while to deal with my grief. In spring I think I will be ready to turn back toward life.”

R. Mark Liebenow

On a less personal but equally important note, I read Mountains of Light while writing the next draft of my screenplay, God’s Country, about Canadian-born silent screen star, Nell Shipman. Nell’s story is very much about her love of the natural world and wild animals. Mountains of Light was the perfect book to be reading while working on this script. I think we sometimes lose sight of how much wisdom the wilderness holds. And what we lose sight of, we risk losing.

I highly recommend reading this beautiful book.

Retriever not included in book giveaway 🙂

*Win a copy of Mountains of Light

If you would like chance to win a copy, please send us an e-mail by Aug 15th, with the subject line, “Mountains of Light,” and your name will be entered into the draw.

*Contest open to WWOW (Weekly Words of Wisdom) subscribers only. If you’re not a subscriber but would like to be 🙂 here is the link to sign up.

A Widow’s Awakening Novel Coming Sept 13th

Please visit BHC Press to pre-order.

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. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life.

 

 

published in A Widow's Awakening Book, Change, Death, Grief, Hope, Inspiration, Life After Loss, Widowhood by Maryanne | February 20, 2018 | No Comment

Reader Feedback for A Widow’s Awakening Book – Batch #1

 

Here is some of the feedback we have received from readers over the years…

“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, AB

“I thought A Widow’s Awakening was an incredible read, and I like that you were so brutally honest. I found myself taking notes all the way through as there were so many areas that grabbed my attention.”

– Elliot Windmill, Journey with Lossul, UK

“All I can say after devouring your book in 24 hours (which I have not done in three years!) …is that you could see me reading it in bed, on the seabus, on the couch…it is wildly energetic and honest and authentic and funny and real. I loved it…incredibly heartbreaking but life affirming at the same time.”

– Alex Carr, Vancouver, BC

Maryanne Pope, photo by Kimberley Williamson

“All I can say is WOW! How did you do it? I laughed, I cried I laughed again and cried some more. It was the bravest piece of literature I have ever read.”

– Ann Lebitka, Calgary, AB

“I just finished reading A Widow’s Awakening and thought it beautifully written. I was completely absorbed in every page . . . it was funny, sad and shocking. People can learn from the honest insight, all of the emotions that people go through when grieving the loss of a loved one. I think it’s a wonderful gift that you have given back in John’s name . . . a memorial fund that can make a difference in other people’s lives . . . because isn’t that what John and all police officers’ intent is after all?”

– Peggy (spouse of police officer), Calgary, AB

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

– Karen Adkins

“I wanted to congratulate you on your truly remarkable book. God forbid, if I ever have to deal with such a tragedy, I hope I can do it with the strength and resolve that you did. Thanks for sharing your experience.”

 Gwen Farnsworth, Health in Action

“Told with brave candour and intelligent wit, A Widow’s Awakening takes you on an enlightening journey into the worlds of policing, hospital trauma units, Orthodox religion, unsafe workplaces, and the unexpected areas our minds can wander into when life becomes almost too painful to bear. An inspiring story of coming to terms with the unimaginable in order to live a life with purpose and meaning, this book is a testament to the capacity of the human spirit.”

– Shannon Lyons, Calgary, AB

“I have been reading A Widow’s Awakening and wanted to say thank you. It’s so beautiful and so real. Like you, I lived it. The love of my life was killed at work in Sept 2000, when he fell putting up rafters for a building. He was 52. I miss him so much and it still hurts. Your book is a wonderful gift and I treasure it…and the knowledge that someone else felt and feels the same as I do.Somehow I don’t feel so alone. Thank you.”

– Sherry Smith, Saskatoon, SK

“A Widow’s Awakening was awesome! We drove to LA and I could not put the book down. By the time we reached Primm, Nevada, I had read the whole book. You are a credit to the female population…a fighter to stand up for yourself and what you believe is right.”

– Darlene C, Calgary, AB

“A Widow’s Awakening gives a rare insight into the emotional roller coaster and psychological struggle experienced by the newly widowed wife of a police officer, senselessly killed on duty as the result of an unsafe workplace. This compelling account of personal tragedy and its aftermath is told with brutal honesty and a sense of humour uniquely her own. The dangers and consequences of policing, its effect on family, friends and comrades, as well as the author’s determination to improve workplace safety in memory of her husband, results in a fascinating and thought provoking book.”

– Former Chief Rick Hanson, Calgary Police Service

“I got home Friday night and was going to “start” the book – well, I didn’t put it down till I finished!! I laughed but mostly cried. It was an amazing read . . . thank you for sharing.”

– Sherry Woodworth, Calgary, AB

“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

“After waiting for 8 years, I was not disappointed with the excruciating, painful story that unfolded on each page. The mind-numbing experience of a young woman losing her husband cannot be comprehended by someone who has not gone through this. Maryanne’s gripping, raw account of her journey, during and after this tragic time in her life is worthy of a good read. Her vulnerability in describing the events of the day of John’s death and her minute by minute survival is the closest I have encountered to being inside someone else’s skin. A Widow’s Awakening will give great insight to those of us who have not experienced this loss.”

– Deborah McInnes, Off-Duty Partners, Calgary, AB

“Just wanted to let you know that I gave my friend (who’s husband passed away) a copy of A Widow’s Awakening. She said it was actually listed as recommended reading by her support group.”

– Melanie Kisters, Vermilion, AB

 “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! 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 John 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, Photographer, Cochrane, AB

“I read A Widow’s Awakening over the weekend…could not put it down once I started reading. The way you described your journey was extremely well done and thought provoking…and helpful to me as a Chaplain. I highly recommend that every Chaplain read it. It was a great read…very insightful and helpful. Your transparency did not sugar coat reality.”

– Miriam Mollering, Volunteer Chaplain, Calgary Police Service

“In her book, A Widow’s Awakening, Maryanne Pope speaks of the profound impact a workplace fatality can have on those left behind. From a workplace safety perspective, her message reinforces how important it is that every workplace is made safe for everyone. As a safety professional, it reinforces the importance of the work that we do.”

– Denise Howitt, EHS Partnerships Ltd.

For further information on A Widow’s Awakening, please click here.

To order, please visit BHC Press for a list of on-line retailers. 

Please visit us on Vimeo to view the 2-min book trailer.