#FridayReads – Excerpt From The Many Faces of Grief

In addition to working on the fourth book in the Seasons Mystery Series, I’ve been writing a new nonfiction book, The Many Faces of Grief.

Back when the hardback version of my suspense novel One Small Victory was in pre-publication production at Five Star Cengage, I wrote a blog with the same title as this new nonfiction book. The subplots of One Small Victory revolved around the aftermath of the death of the central character’s son, showing how she, and her family, dealt with the grief.

This was back when blogging was in it’s infancy, but the publisher and I thought it would be good to do the blog leading up to release day of the book in a way to build some interest.

That original hardback edition of the book did quite well, then the e-book started to languish after I released it myself, so more recently I revised and updated the book and it was released last December in paperback, hardback, and digital by Next Chapter Publishing

But, back to the nonfiction book. For some time I’d been thinking about pulling all those old blog posts into a book, much like I compiled my long-ago humor column into A Dead Tomato Plant And a Paycheck and my husband’s sermons into Homilies From the Heart. This process of creating a book, involves more than merely copying the original work and pasting it into a longer manuscript, so I’ve been working on The Many Faces of Grief off and on for some time.

It’s getting there. 

So, today, I’d like to share an excerpt from the book. I hope you enjoy it.

“Peter, do you love me?”

“Master, you know I do.”

“Then tend my sheep.”

That’s paraphrased from John 21/15- 17 where Jesus asks Simon Peter three times whether he loves Him. They are also words in a hymn that I sang frequently in choir, and the message stirred my heart to accept a calling to answer my baptismal and confirmation call to discipleship. Maybe not the kind that Peter and the others had so long ago, but something.

When my husband was ordained as a Permanent Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, wives were invited, and encouraged, to “tend the sheep” in whatever way we could. I was already doing music ministry, which I loved, and my husband and I were in charge of Family Life for the parish, but I never felt like those were quite enough.

About that same time, a good friend was in the hospital. I called her to see if she needed anything when I came to visit, and she said she’d love to receive holy communion. I’d never taken communion to somebody in the hospital before, but how hard could that be?

As it turned out, not hard at all. On the appointed day, my husband got a host from the tabernacle at church and brought it to me in a Pix, which is a special round gold container to hold consecrated hosts for communion. I went to the hospital armed with the Pix and my husband’s prayer book, where he’d shown me the prayers for the sick.

Despite this being my first time, the little prayer service went smoothly, and afterward my friend and I chatted for a while. Before I left, my friend thanked me for the visit, especially for the prayers and communion. I can still hear her voice these many years later. “You’re very good at this, you know, Maryann.”

“At what? It’s just a visit.”

“No. It was more than that. It was a blessing, and you should do this for others.”

I thought that was very nice of her to say, and I was truly glad that she’d found the visit so beneficial, but I didn’t think much more about the last part of what she said, until a few weeks later. There was an announcement at church that a hospital ministry program was starting. Anyone who was interested could come and find out more about it during an evening meeting.

Could I?

Should I?

That was the first step in my journey to hospital ministry, first as a volunteer then later as a certified chaplain, but more about that next time I share an excerpt.

I do hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend. As happy as we can be in these challenging times. 

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