I didn’t know until today that August 30 (today) is National Grief Awareness Day (click on the link for more info). A coincidence, perhaps, but I have big news that I planned to share in today’s Grief Talk Tuesday post. I’ve signed a contract with Koehler Books, and my book, An Obesity of Grief: A Memoir, will be published in June 2023!
Here’s the “back of the book” synopsis:
AN OBESITY OF GRIEF is the story of a young woman’s twenty-four year quest for healing and answers following the death of her husband.
Nineteen years old with an eleven-day old baby, Lynn Haraldson’s world was shattered when her husband was killed in a tractor-train collision. She spent years denying the trauma of his violent death, and clung to the myth that there were linear, systemic stages of grief, and that one day, time would heal her pain.
Denial informed many of the decisions she made, including an unplanned pregnancy and staying in an abusive relationship. After two failed marriages, and gaining and losing more than one-hundred pounds—twice—a health scare forced her to confront her grief. Through therapy—and in an unexpected encounter with a train at the same tracks where her husband died—Lynn found the peace and healing she sought for more than twenty years, and regained her sense of belonging and self-worth.
The title of my book comes from a line in a poem by Ellen Bass called “The Thing Is“: “…when grief weights you down like your own flesh / only more of it, an obesity of grief / you think, How can a body withstand this?“
I’m the worst English major ever; I readily forget names of authors and books. When I try to recall something I’ve read, my Google search is like a mini novel: “Name of character in that book where the guy falls in love with the woman, but she rejects him because she thinks he’s done something stupid, but she finds out she was wrong and falls in love with him, too, only he’s off pouting.” (That’s my reduction of Pride and Prejudice.) But Ellen Bass’s poem resonates with me so much that it’s written on a sticky note in my brain.
While I didn’t need permission to use the line as the title of my book, it didn’t feel right not to ask, so I reached out to Ellen Bass, explaining the situation. Within an hour, she wrote back: “I would be honored to have you call your memoir Obesity of Grief and I appreciate your crediting of the poem and me. So though you don’t need my permission, you do have my blessing and appreciation.”
I geeked out!
In the ten months before publication, there will be much to do, but I’m terribly excited to share my story with the world in the hope that it brings someone who is grieving a bit of comfort knowing she is not alone.
(To learn more about Ellen Bass and her poetry, click this link.)