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Who wants to read a book about grief?

23 Feb

Caregiving and death are topics often avoided in modern conversation. It’s much easier to stay busy, push down our feelings and focus on conducting our daily lives than to talk about these stressful and emotion-laden experiences. Also, in the face of deep loss, we can tend to believe that to “get over it” would be to dishonor the dead. Often, many years later, people are still hurting and carrying destructive feelings—staying “stuck” in the infancy of their grief.

The truth is, not only is it okay to talk about caregiving and death, by doing so, we can allow our grief to mature and, eventually, actually finish it. This allows us to move on with our lives in a healthy way, gaining new wisdom and strength through which we can actualize our dreams and visions in the world, all the while honoring the person who has transitioned out of this realm.

Hydrangeas on Porch illustration by Linda Santell

Hydrangeas on Porch illustration by Linda Santell

Seasons of Letting Go: Most of what I know about truly living I learned by helping someone die is a collection of autobiographical essays inspired by being my mother’s caregiver in Kentucky in the years leading up to her death in 2012. It explores the emotions of caregiving and grief, chronicles my transition to a new life in Western North Carolina and details my process of letting go so that a time of healing and self-actualization could replace sadness and loss.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

For several years in the late 2000s, I lived alternately in Costa Rica and New Brunswick, Canada, as the partner of a kayak tour operator I met through my work in ecotourism. Feeling that I’d found the love of my life, I was swept up in an international experience full of adventure and romance.

Back in the states, my mother was approaching 80 and becoming weakened by the combination of a leaky heart valve and a chest wall damaged years before by a radical mastectomy and cobalt radiation. I realized that, in order to be true to myself, I needed to transition away from the exotic life of travel, and back to what I felt was a much more mundane existence: living with my mom in my old hometown of Winchester, Kentucky.

I started a blog so that I would not lose touch with my writing or my large network of friends and travel industry colleagues. What began as simply being around to lend a hand morphed into the role of caregiver—and the blog became an outlet for stress and, eventually, a way to come to terms with my mother’s passing.

Flash forward to late 2015. By now I had moved to Asheville and was talking one night with one of my new friends who had also experienced a loss. She was working through her grief in a yearlong photography project—and I suddenly realized I had done the same thing through my blog. In effect, I had already written a book without knowing it!

The light over the Appalachian Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina paints the sky with the setting sun.

The light over the Appalachian Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina paints the sky with the setting sun. ~Joye Ardyn Durham

Seasons explores the universal emotions that surround losing a loved one. It begins by traveling through the psychological landscape that marks each season in the initial year of grieving—a process that began for me even before death, with caregiving.

OUT OF CONTROL

When you are taking care of a person who can’t get better, everything you do or try to do is in vain. You realize “I have no control,” and “There is no way to succeed.” Along the way, a larger understanding sets in: “There is no right way to do this. I am not here to save the day. I am here to love.”

I learned the most important life lesson through taking care of and losing my mom, who, as it turned out, was ultimately the love of my life. I learned, finally, to let go.

Hydrangeas detail by Linda Santell

Hydrangeas detail by Linda Santell

With inspirational quotes, song lyrics and literary references sprinkled throughout, the book is not only my personal account of loss and grief, but also a universal meditation on hope and spirituality. The essays are accompanied by stunning nature photography, colorful illustrations and graphic design elements that take the reader on an introspective journey of healing.

Not everything in the book is about death and sorrow, doom and gloom. There are chapters about following your bliss and meeting fate halfway, so that you can realize lifelong dreams for yourself, both personally and professionally. One chapter is especially for cat lovers!

UPCOMING SIGNINGS

On Saturday, February 25, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., there will be an open house, launch party and book signing at the Gingko Tree Gallery in Black Mountain, NC, which features the work of Joye Ardyn Durham, whose image is on the book’s cover.

On Thursday, May 25, from 5–7 p.m., there will be a book signing and reading in my old hometown at Bentley and Murray, 23 South Main St., Winchester, KY.

Buy the book on Amazon.

frontcover

 

Press Release

8 Jan

NEWS RELEASE
January 8, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Frances Figart
ffigart@gmail.com

francesfigart.com
859.351.9939

Editor of The Laurel of Asheville Publishes  Collection of Autobiographical Essays

ASHEVILLE, NC (January 8, 2016) —Frances Figart, editor of The Laurel of Asheville, has published a collection of essays that is now available through Amazon and select booksellers. The 92-page illustrated paperback, titled Seasons of Letting Go: Most of what I know about truly living I learned by helping someone die, chronicles a powerful time of crisis, transition and resilience.

In 2010, Figart (pronounced Fié-gert) was running kayak ecotours in Costa Rica and Canada’s Bay of Fundy, swept up in an international travel adventure. Back in the States, her mother was becoming weakened by the combination of a leaky heart valve and a chest wall damaged years before by a mastectomy and cobalt radiation.

“I made the decision to return and care for my mom in my old hometown of Winchester, Kentucky,” says Figart. “So I wouldn’t lose touch with my writing, I started a blog about my experience as a caregiver.”

frontcover

Beginning just before her mother died and stretching over the last four years, the essays follow Figart’s transition to Asheville and share wisdom gained through caregiving and embracing grief in a healthy way. “Last year, I realized I had written my best essays during this time. It hit me: Why not publish them as a book to honor my mother’s life and help others dealing with loss?”

With inspirational quotes, song lyrics and literary references sprinkled throughout, the book is not only a personal account of loss and grief, but also a universal meditation on hope, spirituality and self-actualization. The essays are accompanied by stunning nature photography, colorful illustrations and graphic design elements that take the reader on an introspective journey of healing.

“If you or someone you know has experienced a loss or change, this book will touch your heart,” says reviewer Leslie Donovan on Amazon. “The beautiful photography and illustrations add to the story of adventure, loss, change and renewal. As a Hospice nurse, I will recommend this book to my patients and families.”

flyer_metro

UPCOMING BOOK SIGNINGS

Friday, January 27, at Metro Wines, Asheville, NC, 5–6:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 25, at Gingko Tree Gallery, Black Mountain, NC, 3:30–5:30 p.m.

Part of the proceeds from sales at these events will be donated to a Gatlinburg family who lost their home and pets in the November fires.

Thursday, May 25, at Bentley and Murray, Winchester, KY, 5–7 p.m.

Seasons of Letting Go: Most of what I know about truly living I learned by helping someone die, autobiographical essays, 2016, softcover, $19.95, amazon.com, by Frances Figart. Learn more at francesfigart.com.

 

The Book is Available Now!

10 Dec

I am excited to announce that you can now order Seasons of Letting Go on Amazon.com!

frontcover

From the time I began the blog that spawned this book, I had all of my large network of friends in mind as my audience. If you know me at all, whether through the travel industry, as a Facebook connection or as a friend, there is something for you in these 12 essays and 92 illustrated pages.

If you have experienced a loss, this book is especially for you. Yet, although it came to be through the event of a death, this book is about life and living it to the fullest. Happy Holidays!