How many of us have lost a significant family member and never been the same since?
It’s easy to wonder if we’re the only one who has those persistent feelings of loneliness and irreplaceable loss. Last week I received a call from an acquaintance who had just started to read my adoption memoir and was stunned by her own feelings. She had only read through chapter three, and she was taken aback by the detailed account of my mother’s sudden death and the brutal pain I felt from the loss of that incredibly close relationship.
My friend, Mary, lost her own mother just 18 months ago and realized that she was feeling all of the feelings I had written about but wasn’t able to articulate them. Reading my book gave her the courage to reach out to someone who had a similar experience and talk about her loss and the difficulty of it all. Mary told me “I never realized we had so much in common. My mother was the closest person to me as well and her death has devastated me.” I was overcome by her feelings and the fact that my story evoked that kind of reaction from someone I hadn’t seen in several years. We vowed to stay in touch and support each other through those difficult moments when we really need our mothers.
The loss of my mother compelled me to search for a daughter through adoption to fill that relationship gap in my life. Writing and publishing my adoption memoir has been cathartic and satisfying. I am gratified when people who are considering adoption as a way to fulfill their dream of a family, communicate their support for my publishing such a personal story. However, I never anticipated giving some readers, who are not involved with adoption at all, comfort and emotional support through my written words about losing a dear one.
For years, I silently grieved about my loss, feeling alone and in my own world about the pain I felt. Now that I understand how saying the words out loud can provide relief to others, it has given me a whole new perspective on my book.
Writing a book does not make me an expert on adoption, grief, or publishing a private story. Some have criticized me for putting myself, and my family, out there. My intent was to help others as a way to give back for the incredible gift of my daughter. As I experience genuine joy at having touched a few people in such a profound way, I know publishing my story was the right thing to do.
The lesson I have learned is: If we reach out honestly to others in some way, it can bring relief, comfort, and joy to yourself and potentially the people who read or hear your feelings, regardless of how you express them.
Patty Lazarus is the author of a new book about adoption titled “March into My Heart: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and Adoption.” Available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615776450/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=0615776450&link_code=as3&tag=surapres-20