Friday, February 21, 2014

Writing from a Different Brain

with Jane Myers Perrine

Good morning!  I love visiting Seekerville.  I enjoy chatting with you and catching up with Tina.   This is my third blog here and I’m always challenged to write something different.   The first was about looking back on my long journey to publication.  In the second, I explored subtext, a subject I knew nothing about.  Today’s topic is writing through pain.

I’ve gone through two terrible times in my life.   One was when the young man who used to be our son disappeared into the pit of drug addiction twenty-five years ago.  He’s still alive, I think.  The other was the loss of my husband of forty-seven years last March.  The first was a tragedy.  The second was to be expected but was even more difficult because George was truly half of me, the one who’d always supported me during hard times.

I’m not looking for praise or sympathy as I write this.  I’m not saying, “Poor little me” or “Aren’t I wonderful.”  But I know this:  if you haven’t gone through a loss, you will.  I write this to explore what such loss means to us as writers who want to keep writing.

Loss changes us:  emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually.  Actually, in every way imaginable, in ways we can’t control.  For example, when George died, my blood sugar levels decreased by 20 points because I’d been so stressed as a caregiver.  At the same time,  another physical condition worsened.   Spiritually, we attempt to fit loss into our faith and beliefs.  Mentally we struggle to accept our new duties and identity.  We change in so many ways.  In fact, we’re truly different people as we grieve and after the healing than what we were before the loss.   We’ll be writing as different people and from different brains.

When we lost our son, I was teaching.  Those days in the classroom meant that my brain was busy with teaching 150 students a day to conjugate irregular verbs in the preterit tense.  For seven hours a day, I was distracted, I had something else to think about, and I knew my subject so well, it was almost automatic.    

When I lost my husband, I was writing full-time.  I’d just turned in the final edits for the third BUTTERNUT CREEK book.    At that time, the creative center of my brain turned into a turnip.  It was woody and hard.  Or a huge puff of cotton candy—no texture or depth. 

George’s death was terrifyingly painful.  In addition, within a few weeks of that loss, marketing passed on the fourth book in the series and my agent, who’d steered my career for four years, died.   I felt adrift.  No, I WAS adrift!    All I’d counted on for years was gone and I had to come up with an idea for a series with a brain that was alternately turnip or cotton candy.

So, how does one write through pain?   I don’t know.  I’m still working on that. I’m hoping some of you can chime in with ideas.

In this blog, I’m not going to address faith.  If you’re here, you’re probably a person of faith.  I don’t know how a person without faith makes it through difficult times.  I’m not going into other tips such as “exercise and eat right” which are always good for whatever ails you. No, my goal is to find ways to renew creativity by working through and accepting the mental pain.

So here are some thoughts;

1.   Keep writing.  No matter what you decide to work on, keep writing.  It may not be the novel you’d planned.  You could write a story for your granddaughter or a terrible poem.   

My counselor asked me, “Do you journal about what you’re going through?”  I said, “No, I’m a writer.  I blog.”   But I didn’t just write about loss, I wrote about  life and funny things that happened.  I discovered that by writing a 300-400 word post twice a week, I didn’t lose the spark. I also started five really terrible novels that didn’t make it past ten pages but I started them.

2.  Stop writing.   Yes, a contradiction but valid.  I tried NaNoWriMo and made it through five pages.  I’d thought if I made a pledge, I’d force myself to write.  Not true.  There wasn’t anything in the tank.  My brain was empty and forcing myself to write made me angry and frustrated.   Don’t push—unless you find that helpful.

3.    Ask for help and advice.  I talked to two writing friends about my frustration.  Both said, “It’s okay.  Take the time you need.  Give yourself a year or two.”  Thank you, dear writers, for suggesting I do what I felt like doing without feeling guilty.

I also made a good friend.  Valerie Hansen’s husband died a few months after George.   We’ve supported each other and shared our journeys in ways only writers can. 

4.    Turn the pain into a novel.  This isn’t easy advice for me because I write light, humorous novels but over the years I discovered my books are better if I include emotion.  My first efforts at reaching into pain was having a dog die in an LI.  For me, that was tough.   In November, 2013, I blogged on a Writers’ Digest site about “Voluntary Masochism”, using the joy and pain we experience in our lives in our books.  It makes them better.  

5.   Don’t compare what you’re writing now with what you’ve written before.  That way lies lunacy and defeat.  A few months ago, I was sure I’d never write anything as good as the BUTTERNUT CREEK series.   That’s depressing.  Why even try?  I’m still not sure I will but I’ve come to realize competition with oneself is futile and pathetic.

In A Grief Observed C.S. Lewis wrote,  “The death of a beloved is an amputation.”   It takes a long time to recover from an amputation.  Life changes.   New skills must be learned.   Time must be spent in physical therapy to recover.  It takes a while.

After a loss, we’re writing out of a different brain and changed experience, living in a greatly altered world which, quite frankly, stinks.   But it’s what our reality is now.   We have to exercise our brains to regain our skills.  We need to open ourselves to new ways of creating and build new channels to write the best we can at this moment. 

I asked Val Hansen if she’d like to add something.  She graciously accepted.

"I have found that getting started on a new book is much harder than it was before my husband died. Part of that is probably because he and I used to brainstorm plots and part is undoubtedly because it's harder to concentrate on anything besides the gut-wrenching pain of loss. Don't let anybody tell you it's time to get over it and move on. It's not like that. For me, it's been more of a coming to terms with his absence and choosing a new path, new ways to do things if necessary, and looking at life with a lot more appreciation and thankfulness. I do not know how anybody copes without faith in God. I could not. Many elements are confusing and may always be, but beneath the tears and wondering, "Why me?" is the assurance that the Lord is with me." 

If you’d share, I’d love to hear how you’ve coped with writing while facing the really difficult times in your lives.  

  Today Jane is generously first two books in the series:  The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek and The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek. One winner. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

RITA-nominated writer  Jane Myers Perrine has worked as a Spanish teacher, minister, cook, rifle instructor, program director in a state hospital, and been an active volunteer but she always wanted to write.   Finally, she found time and has published books with  Avalon Books, Steeple Hill Love Inspired, and FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group.  Her short pieces have appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Woman’s World magazine.  

Jane’s Butternut Creek series is about a young minister serving in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas and is filled with affection and humor.  The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek is the first book in the series.   Published in April, 2012, it was nominated for the RITA award, the most prestigious honor for writers of women’s fiction.  The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek was published November 20, 2012.  The third book, The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek is now available.

Jane lives north of Austin where her life is controlled by two incredibly spoiled tuxedo cats.   When not writing, she spends her time swimming or cheering for University of Louisville and Kansas State football and basketball.  

Website and blog:
FaceBook   Jane Myers Perrine

The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek 

 Publication date:  November 5, 2013

The path of planning a wedding is never smooth.  However, Adam and Gussie find that task even rockier when the Widows step up to help.  Filled with confidence because they played an important part in getting Adam to propose and helping Gussie set a date, choosing flowers and invitations does not scare them.  Then Adam’s sister Hannah shows up, and  amid all the planning and activities, they must take up the task of matchmaking again.  


 From Kirkus Reviews   “ The third installment of the Butternut Creek series . . . allows a continued glimpse into the quirky, eccentric citizens of this small Texas town. Perrine offers a pleasant, meandering glimpse at love and courtship in Butternut Creek . . .that combines humor and emotionalism.. . well-crafted and engaging . . . with funny, authentic characters.”


Marianne Barkman said...

Welcome back to Seekerville. I am sorry for your loss, and for Valerie's as well. Although I have never been married, or lost someone so close, from my Moms experience I'd say the worst thing you can do to yourself is to keep yourself too busy to grieve. Now I know it's different for everyone, but grief can not be hurried. Mom kept running the business she and Dad had built up for one year after he was gone, and now after 24 years she feels she did wrong with that. Great post. Thanks for sharing

Courtney Phillips said...

Jane, you seem like an extremely wise woman. I don't have anything profound to add. All I can say is thank you for sharing your story. No doubt God is using you to encourage others.
Your books sound wonderful, too.
I pray God blesses you and fills you with comfort. You're an inspiration to those of us who haven't yet walked through that difficult path.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jane, you are a very wise woman.

So is Marianne.

Grief is a different coat for everyone and time lines mean nothing.

It cannot be hurried. VERY WISE.

The stages of grieving must be moved through, weather it's the loss of a spouse, a pet, a divorce or even a job.

Tina Radcliffe said...

What's also rather interesting about the subject is no one really knows how to talk about the grieving process and how it relates to writing is another stretch.

So, Jane I respect you for tackling both.

Let's see who's up for the challenge.

Tina Radcliffe said...

This is definitely a tea and danish post.

Later we'll swap out with Thin Mints, because who can say no to those Girl Scouts outside the grocery store?

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jane, you had me at hello.

Not only is your post beautiful, but I finally "met" Val Hansen this year. I was the second book on a continuity series slated for this summer/fall and Val had lead book...


With Val's and Deb Rather's leadership, I had such a good time, we all got to know each other (timing was a big part of that), we mourned Val's loss and just loved her strength and faith and positive attitude. She never pretended she wasn't going through pain... but she led the team to a wonderful climax of six books completed, ready to rock and roll next summer.

So your post hit home with me, because I worked with Anna Schmidt over last winter (another amazing woman, so talented and strong!) and Anna had lost her husband just months before we partnered on a book...

And I couldn't pretend I knew what it felt like, I couldn't say "I know what you're going through" because I didn't... and later she said she appreciated that.

Gosh, it's hard to know what to say, grief tongue-ties us sometimes, we get all up-in-arms, fumbling the ball.

But this post goes to the core of the matter, and thank you for writing it! Change, loss, life, divorce, death, job loss... so many things take a toll.

But how nice to stand firm for one another!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JANE, Welcome back to Seekerville and thank you for sharing. This whole topic is very pertinent to my writing experience. I just knew that when I retired, I would write. Well I retired from teaching in 2000 but the next ten years, looking back I was not retired yet. I had a new job and that was elder care. In those ten years I lost two dads, three moms, three dear aunts and one uncle. I was trying to write, but looking back I am thankful for the rejections because I personally could not have handled a contract deadline during those times. I was thankful to be available for the folks.
Now I am retired. Officially. So am writing again. Yay.

The grieving process is different for each of us, but very real. And TINA is right when she says we don't deal with it in our culture. No one wants to talk about it.

Hang in there. And thanks for sharing. Take your time. Listen to your inner voice and trust those instincts. Hugs.

DebH said...

I have yet to experience the depth of loss you have - thanks for the reminder that it isn't IF, but rather WHEN. I appreciate your transparency in sharing what you have learned. I believe this will help me in the future. I have never considered what grief could do to the creative process - but I can see how each life experience brings a new depth to our creativity. As a graphic artist, I can use your insight with regards to my work besides writing.

This is what I love about Seekerville. The "elder" women sharing/passing their faith and lessons learned with the "younger" women. (elder and younger not necessarily chronological age, but rather time as pubbed writers and experience). Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing.

Jennifer Smith said...

I'm so sorry for your losses, but thank you for the wisdom you've shared with us. I've thought about this topic before--wondered how I would deal with loss in respect to being a writer. I know of people who've written through terrible illnesses or while suffering chronic migraines, and I respect their ability to persevere. Often we take it for granted when things are going well and we're healthy. You've inspired me to make the most of my time now while things are good! :) Have a great weekend.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Marianne--I agree that grief cannot be hurried or hidden. It shows up in the most unusual places if not recognized. Thanks for stopping in.

Piper Huguley said...

Thank you for this wonderful column today Jane. I have found that writing has sustained me over the past six months since I lost my mother. Part of that is that she insisted that I keep writing, so it was a relief to do that and was a sort of healing place. Not instead of feeling grief, but as a way to grieve and to celebrate my mother. It did help that in the story that I was writing the heroine had just lost her father as well, so the emotional part of her journey was easier to channel. I knew just how she felt.

I agree with you that friends can be such a support and help at a difficult time as well. Anna and Val were probably so glad to have a great friend like Ruthy around during their difficult times. I very much appreciate all of the people who have allowed me to lean on them at this difficult time in my life. It really is meaningful to know that you are not alone. Please know that the bravery that you have shown in this post today helps others as well.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Many thanks, Courtney. Your prayers are much appreciated.

Tina--so right. All of those losses must be recognized. Thanks for your thoughts. As for tackling both--blogging about what worries me is a way I attempt to work things out. And pass the thin mints, please.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Ruth--I'll take some coffee. Black, please. How interesting that you adn Val worked on a series together. Yes, she's a marvel, a woman of talent and deep faith. RE: What to say when someone is grieving. Keep it simple. "I love you." "I'm sorry." "He was a wonderful man."

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Sandra, many thanks for the suggestions. I'm sorry for all those losses and am glad you're starting to write again. I admire your loving generosity in caring for your family.

I've been blessed with people I can talk to about the loss but I've chosen them as well.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

DebH--I would be so honored that what I said would be found in your graphic work. Yes, creativity is creativity in many areas. And I accept "elder" as a compliment.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Jennifer--you'd probably deal with grief and writing n a different way, in your own way. I'm glad this was meaningful for you.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Piper--I'm so glad you were able to write through that grief and that you found it deepened your words Many thanks for sharing. .

Julie Lessman said...

Dear Jane, welcome back to Seekerville!!

I appreciate your thought-provoking post because to be honest, at 63 years of age (on the down-slide of the hill as my hubby likes to say), these types of thoughts have been inching to the foreground of my mind of late, and I've wondered how such a trauma would affect one's writing life. You answered that beautifully and wisely, so thank you!

I am truly sorry for your loss and admire you for keeping on writing -- sounds like excellent advice (and therapy) to me.


Myra Johnson said...

Jane, thank you for your honesty in sharing about these difficult experiences and emotions. As Julie said, the older I get, the more I contemplate the losses I have yet to face and wonder how I'll get through them.

I really liked what you said: "For me, it's been more of a coming to terms with his absence and choosing a new path." Because, truly, in the face of such loss, what other options are there? However long it takes, it's a process we can't avoid--or shouldn't.

Janece Hudson said...

Jane, I'd like to add something profound, but I can't think of anything to add to your wise and caring words. As I grow older, my losses and grieving periods are coming more frequently. This seems to be my year of losing close friends and dealing with the huge holes their deaths have left in my life. I take comfort in conjuring up their faces and their unique laughter--and smile along with them and thank God for having known and loved them. I wrap myself in that warmth and keep on keeping on.

Kristin Noel Fischer said...

Hi Jane,
I just discovered the Seekerville Blog last week and am thrilled to see you here. You're such an inspiration! You said, "I don't know how a person without faith makes it through difficult times." That is so true. Thanks for sharing your journey,

Terri said...

Jane - thanks for your honesty. I appreciate you sharing.

CatMom said...

Jane, thank you so very much for sharing this with us today.
I'm so sorry about what you've been through, and pray that the Lord will keep guiding you and give you comfort. You sound like an amazing woman.
I haven't read your Butternut Creek books yet, but they sound so fascinating (LOVE those covers).
And I have to add...I'm very glad that you are "owned" by 2 precious tuxedo cats *smile*. As a cat lady myself, I know how much company and comfort our furry felines can be.
Thank you again for sharing. Sending gentle hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

April Erwin said...

Jane, what a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your experiences and lessons with us. I'm sorry for your pain, but I'm also grateful you've learned to work with it so well. That's a great light to others. :)

I've never been married, so I can't imagine the loss of a husband, but my older brother was a drug addict and alcoholic from a very young age. Our family went through some very horrific things while we struggled to help him and still keep us all safe and together. God blessed us trememdously. My brother is still a part of our family, thankfully. It was during those years though that I found my desire to write grew. It was my way of coping. I wrote a lot of stuff that had worth only to me, but it helped me heal and grow into the writer I am now. I had heard someone say once, that everything is a blessing in disguise. We just have to open our eyes and look. It's so true. Even the most painful experiences often bring about great blessings.

God bless and thank you again for your words of wisdom. :)

Mary Curry said...

Good morning, Jane.

I have to admit, I've read this blog three times already because I feel so inadequate posting a response.

I always admired your relationship with George. I'm so sorry for your loss. ((((hugs)))) I'm also inspired by your fortitude. I wonder if the depth of love can in some ways help as much as it hurts because that other person helped you to grow into the strong, loving person you were capable of being. Just a thought, I'm not sure if it's true.

I know what you mean about being a teacher helping you to get through the days because you're distracted. There's nothing like the power of little people (in my case) to distract and amuse and keep you functioning.

I wonder if there is still a different brain at play when you're caring for someone who is ill or troubled. I know I have gone through times in my life when I had no energy left to write (even though it would have been a refuge) because all my energy went into caring for the person who needed me.

Finally, yes, faith is such an amazing gift. I guess I consider that my "superpower". Hope that doesn't sound sacrilegious.

Blessings on you as you find your way.

Mary Curry said...

Valerie, I don't know if you'll be stopping by today, but in case you do, I offer condolences for your loss as well. I had no idea you had gone through such a difficult period. I will keep you in my prayers as well.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Dear Mary Curry--George was the best person I've ever known and he made me a better person--so, yes, you are right. I was fortunate to finish THE WEDDING PLANNERS just before George had the surgery that led downhill. And I got my edits in just before he had the surgery to repair the earlier surgery. I'm not sure I could have written while he was so very ill. And, your statement that faith is a superpower works well for me. Thanks for your thoughts.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Julia and Myra--silly me--I didn't think George would ever die, that we'd always be together. I don't know if being more realistic would have helped or not. But, yes, there are really only 2 choices: to accept the loss or not to--and the second choice doesn't lead any place good or to healing. Much love to you both. Thanks.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Janece--there's no way to reverse that. As I hear of the deaths of college friends, I realize that will happen more and more. Like you, I remember and treasure the joy we shared and their influence on my life.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Kristin--how lovely to see you! This is a blog that inspires me and teaches me so much. Thank you for coming by and commenting.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thank you, Teri.

Missy Tippens said...

Jane, I'm so glad you're back with us. Thanks for this touching post. It's inspiring to see how you're overcoming such a terrible loss. I think your advice is good. People grieve differently and will need to ease back into writing at their own pace and in their own way.

I really like how you're using your blog to move forward. I think writers feel better in general when they're writing. I know I get grumpy when I'm not writing! I always feel better when I get back to it.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

CatMom I share much time with one cat on my lap and the other on the love seat next to me--both warm and loving--and nights with them cuddled next to me and making sleep difficult. They have been wonderful company and great comfort. We lived in Savannah for 3 years and loved the city. I'm glad I'm not there this winter.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

April Erwin--I'm so glad your brother is still part of the family. Sadly, that isn't true in my case. That experience made me a better and more understanding teacher. Parents would come to me because they knew I would be kind to them.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Missy--how lovely to see you. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I'm getting excited about more writing--but I think I have to make that first anniversary before better writing will happen.

Missy Tippens said...

Mary Curry, I love that! It's your superpower. :) :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jane, have you considered using this life experience as a genuine part of one of your Butternut Creek future books?

I will admit, I use the theme of widowhood OFTEN in my books.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Perhaps Jane doesn't realize that Jane and George are a legacy. I have belonged to RWA since 1993 and knew of them that long.

Everyone knows Jane and George. You can be proud of that.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Jane,

Thank you for tackling this very hard subject.

It's so true - we all deal with grief in different ways and with different timing. Losing someone we love isn't something we "get over" or "get past" - but we do get through it, with God's help.

(And I agree - how hopeless our lives would be without Him!)

But we writers have this unique outlet for our grief, don't we? There's nothing like writing to plumb the depths of feelings.

On another note - I'm so glad all three Butternut Creek books are available! Will there be a fourth???

Evelyn Berry said...

Thank you for sharing your loss, Jane.

Life is fragile. As a Biology major (undergrad) I learned how many checks-and-balances the body has to keep us healthy. It is truly a miracle! And makes me appreciate the health and well-being we have.

Connie Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Connie Queen said...

Oh, and one more question.
"When not writing, she spends her time swimming or cheering for University of Louisville and Kansas State football and basketball."

But you live in Austin. How can this be??? LOL.

Sherri Shackelford said...

What an amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Tina--I didn't realize George and I were an institution! How much fun. Thank you for passing that on. There will not be a 4th BUTTERNUT CREEK BOOK because I signed a 3-book contract but there will be another series at some time. I'm not sure if I'd be able to use the experience of the loss of a spouse both because I'm not sure I could handle that and because I write lighter books where people break an arm or a leg instead of becoming very sick and dying. I think I know my limitations.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Jan--so true "we do get through it, with God's help." Sadly, not another Butternut Creek book but I'm working on a Tranquility, Texas series. Or maybe it will be in Kentucky.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Connie Queen--thank goodness you're finally getting some of this settled after so much time. It's that waiting that is often so hard, with no idea of what the final outcome will be. Many thanks for writing and prayers for peace and healing.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Evelyn--thank you. We are fragile physically and mentally. I took a course in human development and discovered the same thing. It's amazing that we turn out okay with all the intricacies. Good thing for those back up systems.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Connie--I graduated from Kansas State. have a master's from University of Louisville and we lived in Louisville for 11 years. I really planned on becoming a UT fan when we moved to TX 24 years ago but my heart wouldn't let me. KSU and UofL took up all the space.

Ruth Ann Dell said...

Thank you for this post which is very relevant to me as I lost my 28 year old daughter 5 months ago. I'm sorry to hear about your losses.

My writing is very much on the back burner at the moment--apart from making occasional journal entries. I've only written two blog posts.

God has kept me going though this time and given me the support of wonderful friends and family. Without Him, i would have totally crashed.

Mary Connealy said...

Jane this made me think of how my mom coped when my dad died.

It took her FOUR YEARS before she ever said a word about the future, as in...hoping to see all her grandchildren graduate.

She was functioning, going out, still playing the organ at church, going to the small town Senior Center everyday for lunch, very involved (after a bit) in community and church activities, but the future, she just couldn't see it, couldn't WANT it, she was so lost without Dad.

It takes time.
I do know for me, a year after Dad died, was the first time I suddenly had this image of him in heaven, young again. Healthy.

Isaiah 40:31-but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

This verse came alive to me as I pictured my dad who died so slowly of cancer--lifted up by God into heaven, and healthy again, able to run, able to walk, able to soar.

That helped me, that image.

Mary Connealy said...

Have you heard of the book Grieving God's Way by Margaret Brownley, written after she lost her son. A beautiful book.
A couple of sentences from the book.

>>>>>"A part of you is missing," Margaret Brownley writes. "So how do we function like a whole person -- when the gaping hole inside feels like the Grand Canyon.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jane! You're in luck. My brain was working overtime while I was mowing the lawn.

Yes. Mowing. Not shoveling.

Plotting for you. Aren't I a darling.

This is a subplot. Of course you still have to come up with a plot. Or we could do it for you. lololol.

Mature widow and young widow. The two women never saw eye to eye on issues in the town. The young woman loses her husband and finds comfort from the unlikely place. The mature widow.

She sees her former adversary in a new light.

Jackie Smith said...

I am sorry for your loss, Jane. Your faith is so inspiring. I pray God continues to comfort you!

I have had your books on my wish list....thanks for the giveaway.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, Ruth Anne. I am praying for comfort for you right now, dear. XXXX

Tina Radcliffe said...

I certainly relate. I wrote The Rosetti Curse after the death of my husband. It's a funny take on widowhood, because I am a smart mouth.


April Erwin said...

I'm sure it did make you more understanding and compassionate, Jane. Especially to those going through the same thing. I know we were blessed and many families are still broken. Thank you for being there for those families though, understanding can be hard to find. I'm glad you were willing to let God use you in ministry to others, even if it didn't feel like it sometimes. :)

Becke said...


To me working through grief from any source is a private journey. Yes, you rely on your support systems, but actually dealing with it is individual. For most of use, we do eventually work through it.

I worked through a loss by writing the story. It wasn't precisely what happened, but it allowed me a channel, a pathway that led to acceptance. I also hope to use that fictitious story to provide a perspective. It's not the right one. It's not even the only one. However, the story provides an outlet to explore a topic. And just maybe, give someone else a hand up through their journey. So there is another way to handle grief: be the support for someone else in a similar situation.

Chill N said...

Jane, this is a wisdom-filled post that touches the heart with its honesty and willingness to share. Having made it through some life-altering losses is one of the reasons I write basically light, humorous stories. This world needs all the laughter and joy we can contribute :-)

Thank you so much for a fantastic post.

Nancy C

Cheryl St.John said...

Thank you, Jane, for your honesty.

I found one thing that helped me after a loss was giving myself permission to not write. A huge weight was lifted, because I knew I wasn't able to do anything the way I used to and wasn't ready to figure out how.

Thank you for the wonderful advice to acknowledge we won't write the way we used to. I'm going to take that to heart today.

I am thankful for wonderful friends who help us through these times--and to God for giving us friends, family and strength.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thanks, Sheri!

Chill N said...

Throwing a question out there. On the whole, as a society, we don't seem to know how to deal with death. And one thing I've particularly noticed is how so many people work very hard at avoiding mention of the departed person's name -- I suppose they feel it might upset others? I love it when the name is spoken and memories shared. But how do others of you who have been through loss feel about that?

Nancy C

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Ruth Ann I'm so sorry for your loss. The death of a child doesn't feel right. We should die in chronological order. You know what's best and works for you. Prayers and blessings.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Mary, thank you for your comment. As you say and Tina and I can attest, "functioning" isn't the same as healing. I'm so glad she's looking ahead now. The verse from Isaiah is one of my favorites. I know with George's health problems, death was best for him.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Mary C I haven't read that book. I got samples of books for my Kindle after George died--probably about 30--and chose which helped me and bought a few of those. I discovered that thoughts on the loss of a child don't help those who've lost a husband because they are different. I am so thankful people have addressed our needs at those times. What I realized after a few weeks that it was as if I'd been cut in half and that wasn't going to heal soon or easily.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thina, this is why I love you! Thank you for the subplot. Now if you could just come up with the rest. (Actually--don't worry. I'm really okay with the rest of the book)

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thank you, Jackie. Hope you WILL enjoy your visit to Butternut Creek--whenever and however you get there.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thank, April. I think we can find ministry in almost everything that happens, don't you?

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Becke, I agree that the grief journey is very private. There is a time the tears come when we are with a group, then we discover that the healing takes place with the support of others but still within us and with God. And, yes, we can minister to others through our grief and healing.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thank you, Nancy C--I just can't be serious all the time! I've tried. With each book, I've been able to dig more deeply into emotions but I still have to have laughter someplace. Guess we're a lot alike!

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Cheryl, I have given myself permission not to write and agree--that is powerful! We don't need guilt on top of the other emotions. I'm glad what I wrote helped you. We do have blessings during these times. Many prayers.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Cheryl St. John--do you have a blog I might have blogged on when I had a Western historical???

Mary Connealy said...

Jane, I'm on Petticoats & Pistols with Cheryl St.John and you've been on several times.
Most recently 2008.

Researching with Jane Myers Perrine

Tina Radcliffe said...

Agree, Nancy.

I find that nothing is better than talking about the funny memories. The hilarious ones.

Remember when he'd really laugh...he'd laugh so hard he would start crying and couldn't stop.

Oh my gosh. What a wonderful memory.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I love all your books, and I remember hearing that your husband had passed away. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.
I lost a very dear friend a few years ago and the holidays are still hard, because she always brought my kids small notes or brownies or a small token of her love. They would look for her all morning until she started across the street, and then they'd all shout, "Here comes Grandma Yum Yum!" (Fifteen years ago, my first child called her that because she couldn't remember her name, and she thought it was a hoot. So, there she was, Grandma Yum Yum ever after.)

I agree with everything you've said here, and also agree with Val's thoughts on faith. I know I'll see my dear friend again, and that is my comfort.

Thank you, again, for your post.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

LOL, Mary Curry.

I think your "superpower" description is just right. The power of the Holy Spirit is indeed SUPER (above and beyond all things).

Love that!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I also don't want to let the loss of your son pass without comment.
I'm praying for your peace and comfort. I can't imagine that sort of never knowing and loss, all wrapped up together.

*hugs you gently*

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...


Texas girl, rifle instructor, animal lover, among many other things. Gotta love it!

I'm so sorry for your situation. CS Lewis summed it up quite well. Divorce was the same for me, a death of sorts. I've been completely blessed with a wonderful husband now but I told people at the time of my divorce that I felt like someone had cut off my entire right side. I got sick, etc. etc.

But the Lord brought me through it. As you mentioned, how do people go through these difficult times without their faith?

This week on Moody Radio, a program talked about this from Charles Spurgeon. I've printed it out to re-read. It's just excellent. Perhaps it'll offer some comfort.

On the caregiving thing, I've been there only part time for the past several months and almost nothing else got done. Not promo for my 3rd books, not writing anything new, not cleaning house (oh wait - that's not so new)...

I'm not sure how people manage to keep on. I feel as if I'm coming out of the fog these past few weeks and feeling that spark again.

So - all that to say, seems like you covered it really well! What a blessing that you have a dear friend in Valerie to walk this part of the journey with you. I'm certain you are blessing her too!

God DOES have a plan for us, and you never know, you might continue on with your series one day anyhow. Until then, we'll look forward to what's next! I'd love to read them. may at maythek9spy dot com

(((hugs))) from a native Texan now transplanted to Tennessee.

Debby Giusti said...

Poignant inspiration for all of us, Jane. Thanks for sharing your grief journey. So many of my friends have lost their husbands. I always know that could be...and may well be me in the future. Seems so cruel that in our later years, when we so often need support, is the very time we're left without the one who has supported us for so long.

Without faith? Oh my! How could I exist even when not mourning? In times of trouble or loss, the emptiness would be too unbearable.

Debby Giusti said...

I love talking about those who have gone before us. It keeps their memory alive. I do think the divide between here and there is so slight that they truly are just a breath away, which brings me comfort and peace.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thank you, Mary C I'm amazed my brain linked the names! I had fun but have written all contemporaries since then.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Virginia, what a wonderful memory. Do you ever find yourself looking out the window and thinking she'll be there?

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thank you, Virginia. It seems as if that took place in a completely different life.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

KC--I'll check out that program. Also, I've always thought the path toward divorce must be terribly difficult--and it is a death. All the hope you went into marriage is gone.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Debbie--the fact that so many of us will face the loss of a spouse is hard. And the fact that most wives will outlive their husbands is statistical. HOWEVER, it's not something to worry about now because who knows what's ahead? And knowing God is with us whatever the future holds is a promise to keep us going.

Lyndee H said...

Jane - I'm going through something like this right now. Your post is very insightful and I'm compelled to say "Amen!" Peace and thanks for sharing.

kris said...

Oh, Jane. I can't add anything to what has been said by the many wise people who already posted. Just know that you are, as always, in my heart.

miss fatima said...
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Jane Myers Perrine said...

Lyndee--prayers for you and all involved.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thank you, Kris, my dear friend.

Natalie Monk said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your thoughts on this, Jane. When I look around at what others are going through, I have no excuses for not writing or having an "off" day. God bless you for continuing on and offering thoughts of encouragement to others who are going through pain.

I've long admired your book covers! Your book blurb sounds so fun!

Audra Harders said...

Jane, God bless you.

You've endured and survived tragedies painful enough to make even the strongest of us weak. Your words are a beautiful tribute to the love you have for your husband and the memories will fill your life for years to come.

How can we call ourselves writers if we don't don't dig deep and share with the world the emotion that shapes us? You can tell the authors who have walked through the fires of life and are strong enough to share the experience--they add a layer of depth to their writing that draws the reader into the worlds they create.

Be strong, Jane. God has wonderful things planned for you.

Pam Hillman said...

Grieving is hard to understand if you've not been through it.

It's hard to talk about at any stage,'s hard to explain after come through it.

Tanya Agler said...

Dear Jane, Thank you so much for sharing your story about your loss. You have my sympathy about your husband, George. Thank you for your inspiration.
Right before my father died last June, we talked about my writing and his words stay with me.
Thank you for sharing your stories about George listening to you as you fed him your ideas. It was inspirational and emotional. God bless in your future writing endeavors.

April Erwin said...

Most definitely, Jane. "Here am I send me".

Mary Preston said...

I was very moved here today. Thank you so much for sharing.

Edwina said...

Thank you for sharing, for being vulnerable and and open with us. Your encouragement and advice is a blessing and I know that God will bless you for sharing.

Janet Ferguson said...

Beautiful article and a beautiful gift in sharing your heart to us and your readers.