It was such a fun thing to connect with Rachel Reynolds. Right as I was releasing She’s Got Issues, she was releasing Four Seasons for Charlotte. We thought it would be cool to ask each other some questions, author to author. To read Rachel’s interview of me, you can click HERE.
Rachel, your book is about your daughter’s diagnosis with a brain tumor. You chronicle her treatment and her tragic death, but also the power and strength in community. What was one unexpected thing that you experienced from writing and publishing the book?
This may sound funny, but I was truly surprised at how interested people were in hearing our story. Originally, I put my ideas on paper as a way to process my thoughts and feelings around that incredible year of our lives. As I shared some of my writing, people kept saying, “You should turn this into a book.” After hearing it from people outside my closest friends and family, I thought that maybe I did have an interesting story to tell.
What was the hardest part of the writing process for you?
As I wrote and edited the book, I found myself reliving 2009 all over again. Those emotions and memories were sometimes difficult to process. It was great to relive the happy memories of times that we shared with Charlotte but writing also reminded me why I was telling our story in the first place. That empty place in my heart ached a little every time I edited the book.
Four Seasons for Charlotte touches on the very real process and emotions of a parent losing a child. What would you say to someone who’s experiencing this kind of grief?
Grief is such a powerful and complicated emotion. Everyone seems to process something like the death of a child in a different way. There are two big lessons I have learned on this journey: No two people grieve in the same way and there are no hard and fast rules for the process. The grief often comes and goes in waves. Sometimes the waves are tiny ripples and sometimes they are tsunamis. Navigating grief is about learning to ride the waves.
In your experience, what’s the best way friends and family can support someone who’s experiencing severe or terminal illness (either themselves or their child)?
If a family is living in crisis because of a severe or terminal illness, it is very important for them to learn how to accept (and delegate) help. In our experience, the community wants to help but they sometimes need a little bit of direction. If you are trying to help a family in need, think about what you can do and just dive right in. No good deed is too small. Offer to do a load of laundry, bring a meal over to their home, babysit, deliver an extra cup of coffee, or just distract your friend with a fun evening out. Living in crisis is scary but knowing you have a community behind you willing to help makes all the difference in the world.
So who should read your book?
I think this book will resonate strongly with any parent who has lost a child but I hope that it will give insight to anyone who is also supporting a family in crisis. While every family’s story is unique, we learned some valuable life lessons in the year of Charlotte’s illness. Everyone has challenges in their life and has to find ways to manage stress. There are common threads in our story to which I think almost anyone can relate.
Find out more about Four Seasons for Charlotte and connect with Rachel on her website.