Writing a Book to Process Grief: Healing through Writing
on June 15th, 2020
To sit across from Melanie Baker Trimarco is to sit across from someone that you feel you’ve known your whole life. Her kind voice, her gentle presence, her compassionate heart. There is no sharing space with her without knowing that there is a brave and beautiful story inside of her.
Just a few short years after meeting the love of her life, Melanie was faced with the devastating news that her husband was being diagnosed with a terminal illness and the fairytale life she had dreamed of was taking a detour that she never could have expected.
For eight years, Melanie acted as her husband’s primary caregiver, his medical advocate, and his greatest cheerleader. Through the darkest season of her life, she allowed her faith, her heart, and her vows to be a guiding light.
Her story is one of triumph, of commitment, of deep faith in the face of great loss.
Her story is one that needed to be shared with the world.
“How many couples really think about the depth of the vows they are preparing to recite as bride- and groom-to-be? How many allow themselves to go to the dark side of that commitment to love for worse, for poorer, and in sickness, fully understanding the meaning without a frame of reference?
We did not. We pictured ourselves growing old together. We understood the meaning of the words within the vows. We knew marriage was work and required nurturing and there would be good and bad times, but didn’t think the death part would happen so soon. You never think you are going to be the exception.
But we were.”
And it was that story that brought us together a little over a year ago.
As a writing coach, my job is to support our writers through navigating their story and putting words to paper. It’s about pulling back the layers of what we’re trying to say and then giving those words wings in order to help them fly. For Melanie, though, it was about so much more than that. For Melanie, it was about taking an entire love story worth of grief and setting it free.
When I asked Melanie how writing her book had changed her, a stillness fell between us. She sat quietly, breathing deeply, until the words finally came.
“Writing my story was a confirmation of my resiliency. It helped me to know that I would be okay.”
And for many of us, that’s exactly what the written word does: it creates space in our souls for the human experience to be shared.
When Melanie first came to us with her story, she did so knowing it would be difficult to relive her hardest days all over again. But she also knew that she was ready to let the words fall out of her and that what she needed from us was a safe place for those words to land.
“I immediately felt warmth, compassion, and a deep desire to help me achieve my goal. Even more so, though, I felt as though there was concern for me as a person and ensuring that I was fully ready to embark on this project. There was more concern for my heart than there was for my money.”
It’s always an honor for a company to be chosen to help create that space for a client, to stand with them, to support them, to bring a dream to life with them.
When I asked Melanie if her impression of RTC had changed since she first began her journey with us, she simply replied that her “impression hadn’t changed . . . it had only grown. Because the family had grown.” And the creation of a book can certainly do that at times! As we transition from writing to proofreading to publishing, more and more people are brought into the experience. But as the people chosen to create this experience, our hope is always to keep the creation as intimate and personal as possible . . . even when the family starts to get bigger! So it made our hearts soar to hear Melanie speak of her time in design and publishing with such affection and admiration.
“I felt pushed in all the right ways. Sunny took my vision and made it a perfect reality.”
It’s an experience we always strive to accomplish. Having a place of belonging is first and foremost in the way we do business, and it’s been our sincerest hope, from day one, to be a pillar of support for Melanie as she walked the road to becoming a published author.
Of course, no adventure ever comes without a few surprises. And writing a book is certainly no exception! For Melanie, it was an unexpectedly beautiful surprise, the surprise of truly finding her voice.
“I learned so much more than I expected about the approach of storytelling and the art of writing. I was surprised to find that I truly got better as time went on, and I’m a better writer now than when I started.”
As far as a storytelling company goes, I don’t know that you can hope for much more than that from a client. If we can help uncover your story, then we’ve done our jobs. If we can help you find your voice to continue sharing your stories, then we’ve lived out our purpose.
Melanie, it has been an honor and privilege to hold space for you as you brought this dream of yours to life. We admire your courage and your heart and your deep well of strength. We will forever be grateful to have been a part of your story.