Writing Saved My Life

My Journey Through Grief

This is the story of how I began writing in my mid 50’s and how it got me through the darkest time of my life.

I spent my late 30’s through early 50’s raising two children with my husband in rural Hawaii and running an internet tropical flower gift shipping business from my home. It was a balancing act, though sometimes it didn’t feel very balanced because I wondered if I was doing anything to my optimum.

Writing didn’t cross my mind until my son’s senior year of high school when I helped him edit his personal statement for college applications. The ideas were his, but I played with the words, arranging them to have the most impact. It was a satisfying experience (he was accepted to his dream school) and it inspired me to write an essay about going through the college experience with a challenging teenager.

In the summer of 2016, life took an unexpected turn. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and died within two months in the early morning hours of my birthday. My daughter left for college the week following the funeral. I helped her move into her dorm room on my way back to Hawaii from California and somehow held it together, not wanting to ruin her special experience. I even managed to find and purchase a car for her in the space of four days.

I arrived home feeling empty, but finally able to cry. I missed my mother so much. She was my closest confidant and I was lucky enough to have a mother with whom I could to both laugh and cry. As well, I now had an “empty nest”. I looked into my children’s empty rooms many times each day.

I wanted to fall apart, but my self wouldn’t allow it because I had always been the strong one in the family that everyone counted on and I didn’t know how to let go. I developed a series of ailments. It seemed like no sooner had I gotten over one, another appeared. As if that weren’t enough, I entered menopause during this time. I cried unexpectedly in public places. It was a dark time.

My husband urged me to write and so I began with a letter to my mother. I did a lot of crying as I chronicled my feelings and I continued my letter to her each day. I began a novel with my new free time in the afternoons and I set myself the task of writing one page a day. At first it was daunting, but I persisted.

Last week I published my book, “Blood on the Orchids” on Amazon, deciding to forgo the arduous and possibly unfruitful traditional publishing route after a few weeks of submitting query letters and speaking to other writers and friends involved in media professions. It is an exciting time to be a writer and by deciding to self-publish I had full control of my project. 

One of the main characters has a mother that is a lot like mine…

Advice, Self-Care, Death

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