Hope and faith beneath a tree
Inspired by the untimely death of her son Joshua in 2005, Lunenburg resident Amanda Pool has written a story she hopes will help others struggling with the loss of a loved one. “The Joshua Tree” is one of 101 stories featured in the new book Chicken Soup for Grieving and Recovery which hit shelves on February 1.
Story and photo by Meghan McPhillips-Jones
For over a decade, Chicken Soup for the Soul has been a medium for men, women and children to share their personal stories in the hopes of bringing comfort and support to others. On February 1, a new book Chicken Soup for Grieving and Recovery arrived in bookstores featuring 101 stories about surviving a loved one, one of them a story written by a Lunenburg resident.
According to Amanda Pool of Lunenburg, losing a loved one is always difficult, but finding a way to move on without entirely losing your hope and faith is a challenge that everyone faces. Pool lost her first-born son, Joshua, in 2005 when he suddenly committed suicide.
Joshua was buried underneath a large tree in the Seaside Cemetery in Gloucester, Mass. Pool’s story, “The Joshua Tree,” is about how Joshua came to rest there, and how motherhood doesn’t end with a child’s death.
“The first moment I had with that tree, it was literally motherhood to me. It would shelter him for me,” she said. “That must have been what lead me to that tree. I literally bee-lined to it!” said Poole. “But the tree turned out to be a million more things; over the years it has seen so many tears and laughter. It’s been a distraction as well. I can focus on the birds, the falling leaves, or not getting hit by snow.”
Pool said the act of writing “The Joshua Tree” was a new kind of therapy. As a result of her son’s death, Pool spent a period of two years receiving medical care and support from her husband. Since then, she has been finding her own road to recovery.
“There are no five steps to recovery, its different for everyone,” she said.
Pool’s aunt has been published in Chicken Soup numerous times, and it was her aunt that suggested Pool tell her story for the series.
“She said ‘I don’t know if you are ready for this, but give it a look’, so I started writing,” Pool said. “Every time I started to write, I would be thinking, and sobbing. But when I finally got it on paper, I realized that it isn’t enough to write, you have to craft.”
While working on her story, Pool had been in touch with the editors of the book and Pool said they decided to wait for her story to be finished before closing the submissions page on their Web site. She said she believed they specifically waited for Pool’s story.
Pool said she was surprised to find that the cover design for Chicken Soup for Grieving and Recovery amazingly reflected her story. A large tree with a dark side and a light side is depicted on the book’s front cover - Pool had no part in deciding the cover for the book.
“But it’s very much what I have been struggling with, there is the dark side of my world where I miss Joshua and want to be with him. On the other side, I have my two daughters and I am finding my way again,” she said.
“My daughter Danielle was my editor, she stuck by me while I sat at the computer trying to load my story,” she explained. “It was time to send it, but I said, ‘I can’t it’s too close to me.’ I had never sent out a piece of myself before,” said Pool.
Pool said Danielle helped her click the mouse button and send in her story of recovery.
Her other daughter Annabelle, 12, was the ‘enforcer’ in Pool’s recovery and writing.
“I know now that I would have gotten better sooner if I had kept [my daughters] in my life when I was recovering. Their middle names are Hope and Faith, and I think I have finally found my hope and faith again after all this time. They were a cross between a cheerleading section and motivators, and little preachers. They are strong minded,” she said.
“The Joshua Tree” is not the only way Pool has tried to help others. Pool participates in the Out of the Darkness walks for suicide awareness, and used the Internet to reach out to others. Pool has a blog, Fighting for Life on Blogspot.com and a facebook page, Life is a Highway. Her blog has found its way to the Chicken Soup Web site as a resource to others.
“I spend half my day fielding emails from students or parents needing help,” she said.
Soon Pool also plans on trying her hand at school assemblies to promote suicide prevention and anti-bullying.
“Joshua was bullied. He sheltered me from it, but I’ve found out about it over time,” she said.
Chicken Soup for Grieving and Recovery is not about suicide alone, but on all forms of grieving and recovery for those who have lost someone close to them. You can pick up this book at your local bookstore.
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