Melissa M. Monroe, is the Author of Mom’s Search for Meaning: Grief and Growth After Child Loss
Melissa M. Monroe is a mom, acupuncturist, author of the blog Mothering in Memoriam, and host of the podcast This Club Suuucks: Grief Support for Parents After the Lasagnas Are Long Gone. She lives in Los Angeles with her daughter and dog but heads to the mountains whenever possible.
“As a study on trauma, it slows down time to the nanosecond. The way Melissa describes the most traumatic moment— the hopelessness, the hope – it’s not just raw in an emotional sense, it’s also technically incredibly difficult to put into writing. Somehow, it seems that the EMDR therapy also gave her an ability to get into those moments and describe them for people, which is truly a gift. Melissa doesn’t just say the way out is through, she very much takes us through what that looks like. And in being so specific, I think it’s universally relatable. The final chapter is “To be, or not to be”-level work. The details are visceral and vivid. It pulls me through like a drumbeat, or a heartbeat. The rhythm of it echoes the CPR in a way. This is mom-loss Shakespeare. I think this will be profoundly healing to anyone who has undergone a trauma.”
—Teresa Strasser, author of Making It Home and co-host of the syndicated TV show The List
This is Melissa’s Interview…
What is your book about?
Paralyzed by guilt, grief, and PTSD after my 2-year-old daughter Alice died in her sleep of unknown causes, I was determined not to become a victim in the story of my life. I took the advice I had given to many grief and trauma patients throughout the years, hoping I could create a meaningful life without closure…and I took notes.
As I struggled to advance my timeline beyond that of Alice’s, I began to write about Alice’s life and the impact of her death. I became my own lab rat, trying various approaches to healing with the hope that my experience might be helpful to others stuck in a trauma time loop. From writing to hiking to laughing to EMDR therapy to acupuncture to yoga, I tried it all. Laughter is key, in my opinion.
In the end, I found that meaning resides in the search itself.
Why did you want to write this book?
I began my blog Mothering in Memoriam about a month after Alice died because I could barely speak, and folks wanted to know how I was doing. They also wanted to know what happened. I thought some friends and family would read the blog, and I’d save my breath and sanity because re-telling the story over and over was traumatizing. But the blog took on a life of its own, something I didn’t expect. I received hundreds of notes from folks who said they found my words helpful, even though they were not loss parents. It never occurred to me that my words would help anyone but myself, but once I realized they helped others, I knew I had to keep going. Eventually, my friend Teresa Strasser (author of Making It Home) ordered me to turn the blog into a book and send her chapters. Fun Fact: Teresa also unwittingly named the book in one of her notes on my manuscript.
What do you hope other people will take away from reading your book?
I hope the bereaved take away hope and the non-bereaved take away compassion and understanding.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Publish sooner! I would tell myself to be more courageous about publishing. I sat on so many essays and poems for decades before working up the nerve to submit.
What was the biggest challenge in writing your book?
The greatest challenge was turning 799 pages of material into 276 pages. I thought I didn’t have enough material to fill a book (ha!), but my friend Liz Friedlander begged to differ and told me to print everything I’d written to that point. I was shocked to discover there were 799 pages. At that point, I began killing my darlings, as the saying goes. I do not mind the editing process – I daresay I enjoy it at times – but by the time this book was finished, I felt 12 months pregnant with it. It was time for it to go live a life outside of me.
What is your favorite book in the same genre as your work?
Just Kids by Patti Smith. Hands down. No contest. I love many memoirs, but that one is as close to perfection as a book can get, in my opinion.
How can our readers get a copy of your book?
The book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, most eBook platforms, and by request at your local library or bookseller. Genius Link .
What is the best way for our readers to connect with you?
Learn more about Melissa at her website: http://www.melissamariemonroe.com/
Follow her on Social Media