Archive for Hope Posts

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,

“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. 

published in A Widow's Awakening Book, Change, Death, Grief, Hope, Life After Loss, Widowhood by Maryanne | September 13, 2017 | 2 Comments

Warning: This blog contains course language 😉

The Thing with Feathers – Let’s Look at HOPE Shall We?



Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in your soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

and never stops at all

– Emily Dickinson

What does the word “hope” mean to you?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, hope means “to cherish a desire with anticipation” or “to want something to happen or be true.”

In my experience, however, hope can be a double-edged sword.

When we are drowning in quicksand while dealing with the fallout of a significant loss in our lives, looking for anything to grab onto to help haul us OUT of our present situation, I think we need some sort of hope for a better future.

But I have learned that when we attach a specific outcome to our hope, we can run into trouble. For if that particular outcome doesn’t manifest, not only are we disappointed, we can be downright devastated…perhaps even left with a feeling of being “cheated” out of something we feel is owed to us.

Or…perhaps our specific hope does come to fruition – but it is NOT at all what we’d expected!

I thought it might be of interest to explore several types of hope – and how a hope can change – by pulling a few examples from A Widow’s Awakening.

Hope for a miracle

In this excerpt, it is the morning on the day of John’s (“Sam”) fall and we are in the hospital. I (“Adri) have just learned from the doctor that John will soon be declared legally brain-dead. Most of the people who have come to the hospital have not yet been told:

Thankfully, the medical staff need to work on Sam so we’re taken back to the family room but I choose to stay in the larger area that’s now packed with people.

“There’s still hope for a miracle,” a well-meaning visitor whispers in my ear.

At hearing these words, I do feel a surge of hope — even though I understand the physical reality and have seen Sam with my own eyes. But you know, an old-fashioned Jesus-raising-the-dead style miracle would be lovely right about now. Maybe Sam’s brain injury can somehow be reversed. Where’s my faith?

In the same place I need to be. My stomach is so upset I’ve got to find a bathroom. I leave the waiting area but only make it as far as the hallway because I see one of Sam’s older teammates leaning against the wall. We look at each other.

“There’s still hope,” I tell him.

He takes my hand but doesn’t say anything. The pain in my stomach subsides a little so I stay here with him, which is where the social worker finds me a couple of minutes later.

“Would you like to come with me, Adri?”

No thanks. I’ll just stay right here because even though I know damn well the shittiest news of my life is coming, since I haven’t yet technically heard it, the chance still exists that all this could somehow get turned around.

But the older officer releases my hand and I know I must go.

When all hope is gone

In this excerpt, it is later that same day. I have just spent fifteen hours in the ICU, holding John’s hand, comforting him as best as I can as his body is prepared for organ removal:

Around 9:00 p.m., my eldest brother, Ed, arrives from Northern Ontario. Since he’s missed the family meeting, he isn’t as up to par on Sam’s medical condition as the rest of us. He asks a nurse — not one of Sam’s regular ones — if they’re absolutely sure there’s no hope left.

She glances at her clipboard then back at Ed. “Well, I personally haven’t read his entire chart but it says right here that his gray and white matter have mixed — so no, there’s no hope.”

When she sees the expression on my face, she back-peddles. “I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, am I?”

“Oh no, no,” I reply, waving my hand.

I understand Sam’s head hit the concrete hard enough to kill him but until now, it hadn’t registered that his brain is a goddamn tossed salad.

When hope begins to shift

This is what happens next in the ICU:

Then the organ transplant coordinator comes in. ‘Oh fuck,’ I think, ‘now what body part do you want?’

But she hands me a teddy bear. I read his nametag: Hope.

“I just thought you might need someone to hug,” she says.

I throw my arms around her.

Hope with no strings attached

In this excerpt, it is the day after John’s death and I am having a conversation with the police chaplain:

“Can I ask you a personal question?” the chaplain begins.

“Uh huh.”

“What are you thinking about Sam right now?”

Hmmm . . . let’s see. Well, wherever he is at the moment, he’s one pissed off Greek. And I’m pretty sure he was in the hospital bathroom with me yesterday because if there’s one place on the planet where Sam’s soul would be sorting things out, it would be a toilet. I know he felt me kiss him in the ICU and managed to hold my hand, brain-dead and all. He’s very concerned that I’ll let my mother control my life now that he’s not here to be the buffer. I suspect the squirrel at the birdbell was some sort of sign. And I think Tom falling and hitting his head the day after Sam fell and hit his head is significant, as is the fact that one of the happiest days of my life and the absolute worst happened exactly one week apart.

I shrug. “Stuff.”

“What does the word hope mean to you?” he asks.

“I dunno. I guess just that one day things will get better.”

Hope for falling in love again

In this passage, three months have passed since John’s death and I am telling my Dad about the romantic feelings I have towards John’s Sergeant (“Tom”).

Over dinner at my place, I run the Tom possibility by my father. Not only is my dad the least romantic person I know, he’ll be sure to give me a brutally honest and rational assessment of the situation.

“I see,” he says, after I tell him the details.


“First of all, it’s logical why you would fall for him. Secondly, knowing his character, if he decided that he could pursue a relationship with you, and I’m not saying he will, but if he did, then I can tell you right now you’ll be waiting quite awhile.”


“He was Sam’s friend and boss.”

I sigh.

“Besides,” the realist adds, “doesn’t he have a girlfriend?”

I nod.

My dad laughs. “That might be a bit of a problem.”

I shrug.

“Whatever you do,” he advises, “don’t fall in love with love. On the other hand, you don’t want to be on your own too long because then you’ll get stuck in your ways.”

“But thinking about Tom gives me hope,” I say.

Then I walk over to the dining room wall, where I’ve hung the framed first stanza of an Emily Dickinson poem. I point it out to my dad.

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in your soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

and never stops at all

He reads it then looks at me. “But your tune has a word.”

What is it we are really hoping for?

In this passage, over six months have passed since John’s death. I am still holding out hope for a future romance with “Tom”:

After the detective leaves, I call Tom to debrief. He tells me he’s off to Mexico tomorrow with his girlfriend.

“Oh,” I say snottily. “And are you looking forward to your trip?”

“Of course.”

“Well have fun.”


I don’t say anything.

“Are you OK?” he asks.

“Not particularly.”


“Have a great vacation,” I say, then hang up.

Then I walk into the dining room and re-read Emily Dickinson’s poem. My dad’s right: I’m hinging my hope for happiness on an expected outcome with a specific person. Not only do I want Tom to help me deal with the issue that led to Sam’s death, I want him to drop his girlfriend and rescue me from widowhood.

“Come on guys,” I say to Sasha and Sven, “let’s go for our walk.”

Learning to let go of a specific hope

This is what happened next:

At the dog-park, I sit down on a rock and look out over the river. “Well Sam, I promised you I’d stick it out for seven months. Now here we are.”

I remove my wedding and engagement rings from my left hand and place them on my right. My marriage to Sam is over. As much as I don’t want to let go of the past until I know what the future holds, I’m learning life just doesn’t work that way.

What hope means to me now

Well, the “one day” I told the Police Chaplain about the day after John’s death, is here…it’s today. In fact, it’s been “one day” for many years now. Things are better and they have been for a very long time.

I love my life and have learned to embrace the challenges and lessons – because that’s where the greatest growth comes from. But I really try not to stay stuck for too long when the time has come to move on.

These days, I tend to “hope” less and focus instead on visualizing what I sense needs to come next and then taking concrete action towards achieving that outcome…and if I’m off track – or on track – the universe always let me know 😊

As for my hope for a romantic relationship with “Tom?” Well, I wish I could say I was able to let go of that hope a mere seven months after John’s death. But that would be a lie. It took me more than a decade to let that hope go.

For sometimes the thing with feathers also has talons. And that’s okay…because what we learn about ourselves in the process of letting go of a specific hope is worth the disappointment.

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.

For further info about the Life After Loss blog series, please click here.

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