Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Colors of Goodbye- a memoir that gives a beautiful picture of how to navigate grief

God's timing, in even what seem like trivial things, is mystifying and perfect. I feel it is always the case, but only lately have I been aware of how actively He is ever preparing us for unforeseen trials and seasons of life outside our experience level or comfort zone. I have found that in my life, books are both a great blessing and teacher. There is something about having a written account of how someone, even if it's a fictional character,encounters and proceeds to handle challenges and just different circumstances of life that allows you broaden your mind beyond what you are experiencing right now. I think there are some (maybe a lot) of life situations that you simply are not going to be prepared for or have the experience to know how to handle before it befalls you. Loss of a dearly loved One is one of those things for me. I, thankfully, had not lost any family members or close friends to tragedy and I do not have any intimate experience with helping someone else through their grief. It also seems to me that deep grief is not something our culture really knows what to do with. So when I saw what looked like a very honest and thought provoking account of what one woman did with the raw pain of losing her child available as a book to review for the blog, I thought it wouldn't hurt me at all to read her story. 


Colors of Goodbye: A memoir of holding on, letting go and reclaiming joy in the wake of loss by September Vaudrey not only didn't "hurt" me, it prepared me with honest eyes to cope with the shocking blow of losing my Father-in-law just weeks within starting this book. My husband's father, Ben was one of the Godliest and healthiest men I knew and no one had any premonitions of the fatal heart attack he suddenly suffered on the evening of the last day of April. He left behind a wife and 11 children, the youngest who was only ten. The intense grief left in the wake of his passing was like nothing I've ever seen or known in my life. Trying to find ways to support my husband and other family members in mourning and honor Ben as he desired in saying good bye was soul stretching and exhausting. But seeing the ways that God gently comforted and showed the family even just a glimpse of the impact Ben's life had had was amazing.

Finding the parallels between my very real time experience with the shock and grief of losing a loved one and reading the account of the Vaudrey family suddenly losing their teenage daughter, Katie to a fatal car crash was a very helpful way for me to process all the emotions and experiences of this hard season. September Vaudrey is a poignant author who bares her heart for her readers in this touching memoir. I love that she honored her daughter's artistic nature by breaking up the segments of the book by coordinating colors of that season. Stepping thru Vermillion and the harrowing chapter of getting the call that their daughter was dying in a hospital bed and proceeding to have to have to tell her good bye and let her go. Payne's Grey tells of navigating the shock of their loss and coming to terms with the reality that Katie wasn't coming back. Indigo represents the horrible, yet bittersweetly beautiful coming together of so many people touched by Katie to celebrate her life well lived. Burnt Sienna is the color of trying hard to find a "new normal" after the loss and yet still honor the deceased in the family's life. Cadmium green light is hope rising and joy weaving it's way through the warp of grief. Cerulean Blue can be summed up in life is a balance of holding on and letting go. Hansa Yellow is the tying together of the many faceted threads of this story- how one family fought hard to grieve deeply the loss of a dearly loved family member yet honor her by finding the joy that still comes with the morning. 

I gleaned so many insights and much wisdom from reading this well written and heart stirring book. I feel there are many of September's thoughts bouncing around my mind during this relevant time and taking root in my heart to help carry me thru the future. I would encourage fellow book lovers out there to read broadly from the expansive human experience and be on the watch for how God brings ideas and lines from those stories to mind and the most opportune and needed time. It's a gift to have a reservoir of truth and beauty, especially scripture, stored up in our hearts and mind to help encourage us in hard times.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

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