Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blog Tour: Words of Comfort for Times of Loss (Review & Interview)

Grief comes in many forms. It provides untold challenges for the people - especially as people walk through the emotions, which impact the grieving heart.

Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison know firsthand the ups and downs of personal grief.

Murphey drew from experiences surrounding the deaths of his father and son-in-law, while Allison’s reflections focus on things that happened in her life following the death of her husband, NASCAR driver Davey Allison .

Together the pair used their experiences to create a new resource – Words of Comfort In Times of Loss, which is designed as an easy to read , easy to read book that touches upon the emotions of those who hurt, as well as offer solace.

“I I wanted to give readers a male and a female perspective on loss,” Murphey said. “I wanted Words of Comfort for Times of Loss to offer compassion and understanding. I didn't want to throw out a lot of advice (which they probably know anyway).

“Liz and I have both suffered painful loss and we wanted to share what we've learned.”

Murphey envisioned this project as primarily a gift book – something someone could hand to a person “in the throes of sorrow and needs a few encouraging words to take to the next healing step.”

“When we mourn, we're aware that others go through the process, and yet we feel alone and often that no one feels our pain as we do,” Murphey said. “No one truly understands another, but [the book] was my way to come alongside a person encased in sorrow, and hold out my arms of compassion.”

In fact, Murphey said, this is the type of book he would have wanted to have, as he dealt with issues surrounding his son-in-law’s death.

"I had to do a lot of internal processing over the death of my son-in-law," Murphey explained. "That brought back painful memories of the loss of my dad because we never had a warm or healthy relationship." 

Murphey and Allison’s words are accompanied by watercolor illustrations created by Michal Sparks.

“I wanted soothing artwork because the pictures offer their own warmth along with our words,” Murphey said. “[Sparks] watercolors feel exactly right to me.”

This is the second time Murphey has collaborated with Sparks. After she completed the artwork for “When Someone You Love Has Cancer,” Murphey told his editor that Sparks’ soft watercolors “captured the pathos” of his prose.

Though small – approximately 6,000 words – Murphey said the book breaks down several issues many people face, in its 12 brief chapters - including suggestions on how to move through grief at a personal pace and how to handle holidays after the death of a loved one.

“I struggled over what I could leave out,” Murphey said. “As I prayed and thought about my own grief, those were the issues I had to focus on when I was heartbroken.

“I wanted to offer comfort, as the title says, but it was my way to say softly, ‘God loves you. You may feel isolated, but he is with you.’ I hoped our words would remind [readers] of the tenderness of the God who never forsakes us.”

Murphey said with each book he works to create, he tries to “move deeper” inside himself.

“I strive to be like Nathaniel of whom Jesus said, ‘An Israelite in whom there is no guile.’ I translate that to mean one who is transparent,” Murphey continued. “It's not easy to make myself vulnerable, but I've learned that the more open I am about my feelings, the more I resonate with others' emotions (and they with mine).”

What’s Next For Murphey
Murphey is nearly finished with “Knowing God, Knowing Myself,” a book of aphorisms (short, pithy sayings), compiled from more than 400 he has written throughout the years.

“When an editor at Regal Books heard about them, he asked me to share some of them in a book. I plan to use and explain about 70,” Murphey explained.

Some examples of his aphorisms include:
---“I am passionately involved in the process; I am emotionally detached from the result.”
---“If I figure out a reason for God's love, I have the wrong answer.”
---“No matter how many times I hear something, I will deny what I'm not prepared to accept.”

Murphey also created a website to help writers improve their craft. He recently started a blog where he shares information about writing – Cec Murphey's Writer to Writer - http://cecmurpheyswritertowriter.blogspot.com.

What I Thought About This Resource
I jumped at the chance to review this book - and do the interview with at least one of the authors - because I hoped it would be a good resource that I could use for those going through a "time of loss."

Working within a children's ministry, often the "loss" revolves around either a grandparent (ok, sometimes a pet). I hoped this would be a book I could pass to parents within my ministry.

This book definitely met and exceeded expectations. Simple, direct and to the point, it walks through several subjects faced by people dealing with grief.

Using examples from their own lives, Allison and Murphey help readers find practical and easy ways to deal with their emotions, feelings and well, even the things well-meaning people may say.

The illustrations, created by Sparks are beautiful. The soft pastels work in tandem with the words to create a resource that is not only practical, but comforting.

This book will definitely go on my parenting resource bookshelf. It would definitely be worth purchasing several in bulk and passing them to a family dealing with a death. Simple in nature, the message is quite powerful and timely.

More About The Book - From The Publishers
Through great personal loss, authors Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison have gained insight to share with others who are going through uncertainty, depression, and loneliness after losing a loved one. They also offer advice for those comforting someone who is grieving.

Among comforting paintings by artist Michal Sparks, brief stories, personal experiences, and prayers offer a meaningful path toward healing for readers when they:
  • feel alone and lost in their grief and want to reconnect with others and to life
  • seek to make sense of their loss alongside their sense of faith, purpose, and God
  • want to honor their loved one without clinging to the past in unhealthy ways
Readers are given gentle permission to grapple with doubt, seek peace, and reflect on their loss in their own way without judgment and with understanding and hope. A perfect gift for a loved one dealing with loss.

Find It Online
Amazon.com
Harvest House Publishers

Meet The Authors & The Illustrator
Liz Allison was married to NASCAR driver Davey Allison until his tragic death in 1993. Widowed at 28 with two young children to raise, Allison faced the long journey of pain, loss, and grief with great faith. Committed to encouraging others, she returned to her work in TV reporting, has published eight books, and hosts a weekly radio show. Learn more about Allison by visiting: www.lizallison.com.

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grief, Murphy has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. Read more about Murphy at www.cecilmurphey.com.

Michal Sparks’ artwork can be found throughout the home-furnishings industry in textiles, gift items, dinnerware, and more. She is the artist of the Emilie Marie books for girls as well as Simple Joys, Beautiful Home on a Budget, My Very First Tea Party, and My Very First Book of Manners. She and her family live in New Jersey.
Learn more about Sparks by visiting: www.indigogate.com

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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