I had a cheerful post planned for today, asking what readers wish new authors knew, what authors wish they’d known when they were new to publishing. Till I realized the date my post would go live.
Maybe that post wasn’t such a great idea on a day when many hearts will hold sad memories, recalling a day of heartache and hurt that didn’t only affect those immediately involved in the tragedy, but the entire world. I’m praying God brings peace and healing to the hearts of all affected, especially those who lost loved ones that day.
By the time we reach a certain age, all of us will have survived heartaches. Hopefully not direct involvement with anything on a 9/11 scale. But heartbreaks and regrets, for sure. The older we get, the more we’re likely to have encountered personal tragedies, both big and small.
So when a group of us decided to put together a set of romances featuring characters over 60, past heartbreaks for our characters were inevitable. Just like in real life. They’ve all experienced things that aren’t quick or easy to get over, even with God’s help.
Some of our story people are still adjusting to their losses. Some think they’ve adjusted just fine, but discover there’s still more healing to be done. Some are moving forward and stepping out into a “new normal”, others are being pushed forward unwillingly.
Marion’s Caleb has survived life-threatening illness, and JoAnn is a widow.
My Meg recently lost the job she devoted fifty years of her life to, while Eli’s wife recently died after a prolonged illness. They have a shared past heartbreak, and Eli is estranged from his son.
In Mary’s story, both Naomi and Ben have lost a spouse, plus Naomi is caring for her troubled grandson after the death of her daughter-in-law.
Cecelia’s hero is a widower.
Both Oliver and Connie are widowed in Clare’s book, and this plus other losses damaged Connie’s faith for many years.
In Moosed the Boat, Jan’s story for the set, both the hero and heroine have lost loved ones, though they’re at very different places in their healing processes.
Yet the tagline for Somewhere Beyond the Blue is “Fun sixty-something romances”. Huh? Fun stories with so much heartbreak going on?
No matter what we’ve lost in the past, no matter what hurts we’ve struggled with, when that first hard time of intense grief has passed the sharp edge of the pain that never fully goes away softens a little. We can rediscover life’s joy and sweetness.
New hope. New love. New beginnings.
And even fun.
This snippet from Jan’s book stuck with me, and she’s given me permission to share it here.
I started going to a well-attended non-denominational church where I could slip in unnoticed. At first, I came late and left early, putting as much distance between myself and the rest of the congregation as I could. But the pastor noticed. One morning, I stayed for the entire service, and when I left, he met me at the door with words of wisdom and a smile brimming with empathy.”
Travis scuffed at the pine needles with the toe of his shoe and crossed his ankles. “What did he say to you?”
“‘Jesus wept too, and He cares for you.’ Can you believe it? That’s all, but somehow, he knew. Perhaps he could see the pain in my eyes. When I got home, I had to look up the Scripture reference. That’s what really started the healing process for me.”
Travis angled his head. “How so? That’s the story of Lazarus and Mary and Martha, right? Jesus wept when Lazarus died. I’ve never quite understood why. The Lord had to know He would bring His friend back to life.”
“I wondered about that too, but what I got from the story was that Jesus was crying right alongside Mary and Martha. He entered into their pain with them and was moved with great compassion. He knew what it was like to lose a loved one because their grief was very real to Him. His tears were a natural outpouring of the sorrow He could feel in the hearts of His friends.”
I love knowing that no matter what we go through in this hurting broken world, Jesus understands. He grieves with us. He will never try to jolly us out of our grief! Instead, He’ll be beside us, feeling it too, allowing us to grieve. I thought Jan expressed that so beautifully! You can find out more about Jan and her stories here.
What’s your best advice for moving forward after any sort of loss? Or what do you like or dislike most about the way authors handle grieving characters in their stories? Any suggestions for stories that deal with grief especially well?
One comment made on this post by September 18 will be randomly chosen to win an ebook copy of my Come to the Lake set, containing the first three Huckleberry Lake stories. Meg, the heroine of Choose Again, my book in Somewhere Beyond the Blue, appears briefly in Book 2. Come to the Lake will be reduced to just 99c during the launch week for the new set. September 25th through September 30th, God willing!