My writings focus on the intersection of the humanities and medicine referred to as “narrative medicine,” an interdisciplinary art that validates the need for patients to voice their experiences, and highlights the imperative for medical professionals to develop deep and accurate listening to their patients’ accounts of themselves.
My work captures not only the power of narrative to raise awareness about the medical and psychological experiences of caring for a critically ill child, but also reveals how the interpretations of my experiences have shaped who I’ve become. In fact, my writing is reflective of a growing body of medical research about “narrative identity,” which illuminates that how we make sense of what happens to us and the meaning we make out of experiences beyond our control directly impacts our physical and psychological health outcomes.
During the years following the death of my fourteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, I wrote Chasing Hope, a memoir about my heartbreaking journey, my critically ill child who became a courageous young woman in the face of death, my fifteen-year-old daughter, Alex, who clung to hope but was ripped apart by grief, and the community that held together our shattered family. It is a story that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, filled with moments of despair and hope, and ultimately it is about the power of love to overcome tragedy.
In 2007, I published Facing Into the Wind: A Mother’s Healing After the Death of Her Child, a collection of poetry about Elizabeth’s battle with bone cancer and our family’s journey of grieving and healing. In the first years after my daughter’s death, poetry allowed me to give form to the shapeless void of my despair. In time, drawing upon metaphors with the natural world, I discover hope and even joy in the eternal rhythms of life.
If you would like a selection of poems from Facing Into the Wind, please let me know by filling in the form here. I look forward to hearing from you.