Friday, April 15, 2011

Again In A Heartbeat - A Therapist's View of the Memoir

I received this letter from a therapist and grief counselor about my memoir.

"I read 'Again in a Heartbeat' with the soul of a romantic and the eyes of a therapist.  Ms. Weidener’s beautifully written work is a memoir of her husband, John, and their life together.

When Susan and John met it was love at first sight...the stuff of fairy tales. As Ms. Weidener describes their feelings for one another, I found myself cheering . . . finding a soulmate still happens to a lucky few.  I was all set for a happy ending until real life intervened.  Most couples face challenges along the way, but few are tested so early and severely. Could their love prevail against the formidable enemy of a life threatening illness?

Ms. Weidener doesn’t hold back on emotional honesty, nor about the rough patches they went through. Despite “loosing it” at times, they trusted each other enough to express their difficulty in coping with this destructive force - cancer - which invaded their lives. In the end, the qualities of love which St. Paul describes, “love is patient, love is kind...” come through.

Most professionals realize there is more than one patient in a life threatening illness...the whole family suffers.  I wish there had been someone there to interpret John’s behavior for Susan.  Many patients want to spare their loved ones the pain of final separation, so they withdraw emotionally toward the end. Unless the process is explained, family members frequently feel confused and rejected.

In 'Again in a Heartbeat' Ms. Weidener has given therapists an excellent tool for opening up dialogue between couples coping with a serious illness.  Perhaps by writing about their experience, Susan and John will spare others pain.  Death may have taken John’s body, but his spirit lives on in Susan.  Together they wrote another chapter in life’s book 'Profiles in Courage'."
Elizabeth A. Madden, MSW

Author's note: I "battled" John's cancer just as he did. For him, the fight was over after seven years. For me, it took another 13 years before I could write what the disease did to him, our family, and my life after his death. By writing Again in a Heartbeat, I put aside much of the anguish plaguing me for years and in the process now hold a book that hopefully helps families and caregivers.  This is the healing power of memoir.   Susan G. Weidener

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