A Kentucky businesswoman, Joan Markwell became an author after being called to write Softening the Grief: What to Say and Do to Comfort a Bereaved Mother. We wanted to find out more.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and why you wrote Softening the Grief?
Joan Markwell: I’ve had the misfortune of outliving my daughter. Going through this tremendous grieving process I have found comfort with others that have also survived their children. So, in an effort to pay tribute to our children, and to bring a better understanding of our grief journey to so many others, four of us have written a book to soften the grief; to educate and inform all of those who know of a bereaved parent in their lives or we can relate to as another bereaved parent to help everyone better manage this trauma.
Q: Please tell me about your daughter.
Joan Markwell: Her name was Cindy. She was a daughter, a mother, a sister, a granddaughter, and so much more to so many more. She loved life; she lived life to the fullest. She could transfer from president of the Chamber of Commerce to boots and horses and a saddle, in a flash. She was always up for a challenge. And when she walked into a room she owned it. She was my dream little gal. She won a lot of battles. But the one she couldn’t beat was cancer. She lost that battle and with that, I became a different person.
Q: What do you mean by “a different person?”
Joan Markwell: The most unexpected thing that happened to me after losing my daughter was seeing the person I was, disappear. And then seeing this new being arrive. I was always in control; strong. And now I have become this whiney, erratic, over-sensitive, over-emotional being. I can’t recognize myself anymore. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to deal with this being, nor did a lot of my friends and family. Consequently, a lot of them shrank away from me. And over time I made new friends. Some of these friends were like me, bereaved mothers. And it was them that I turned to for support and understanding.
Q: That’s the reason you decided to write Softening the Grief?
Joan Markwell: I want to reach out to those who have a bereaved mother in their life. I want them to know that by reading our book they can gain some knowledge to help support the bereaved mothers in their lives. We give them some tools that we’re now aware of, that can make that journey a little easier for the next bereaved parent.
Q: It sounds like reaching out to others helped you a lot.
Joan Markwell: It’s just a new way of life that you have to adjust to. And it seems like the more you reach out to other bereaved mothers, the more you can understand that you’re not the only crazy one out there. That we all have a common crazy link. So, we gravitate toward each other more, I think, to help each other. And with this book, again, that’s what we want to do. We want to reach out to those mothers, and those people that are in their support system, and close to them, so that they can better understand what support they need to make them more like the old person they were.
Q: What did you learn by writing Softening the Grief?
Joan Markwell: I think, in the process of writing this book and talking to so many bereaved mothers, that no matter the religion, no matter the faith, no matter the nationality – it doesn’t matter. We’re all in the same pool of mothers who have lost their children. It’s a common bond. It stretches over any other criteria. It’s a common denominator, that no matter who you are, where you are, what you are – you know where we are as those mothers who have outlived their children.
Q: What would you like readers to know about Softening the Grief?
Joan Markwell: The four mothers who wrote this book together have a goal. While paying tribute to our children, we want to help all the other bereaved mothers out there as well as give advice and support to those who are close to them and love them.
So many times, things are said and done unintentionally and we need to make sure that the grief journey can be shared together to make it better for both parties. I’ve realized that I need my friends and family in my life and I want them to be there for me. And I want to be there for them. So, by reading our book, I think that we can all be there for each other.
In other words, if you let us show you the way, then you can show us the way. I think we all just need a gentle push in the direction, to keep us all going in the right way during this trauma. And we want you to be there for us. And we want to be there with you, in our lives. But we know that you need to better understand how to do that. So, this will be your chance to get those tips from those of us who have seen first-hand how it feels to lose your child.
Joan Markwell’s book, Softening the Grief: What to Say and Do to Comfort a Bereaved Mother, is available on Amazon.