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A Vow Made True Paperback – January 1, 2012
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Author Carruthers takes us through the process of self-discovery that was uniquely her own as she explored the nightmarish cave of loss. Not unlike the famed Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's "five stages grief," by her personal example, Carruthers adds a dozen more. With an incredibly light touch of pen, she visits the others tangled in the web of this death, brothers, sisters-in-law, friends and faraway family, and, of course her own husband, father of the deceased.
Her chapter headings, thought-provoking sayings of poets, philosophers, and artists, are clues to the eclectic mind of this amazing writer. Nothing escapes her heart-filled analysis: for example, the following examination of the true meaning of death bed suicide, completely engrosses the reader in this not uncommon phenomenon,
". . . A fundamental wish of all living beings is to void suffering, so although we cannot blame someone for making that decision [death bed suicide], it is not a particularly virtuous act either because it reflects a wish to end suffering rather than a wish to end one's life. Despite my vow to feel, an end to suffering is what I desired. I knew I would not take my own life, but the desire to be without emotional pain was intense. My physical distress and lack of desire to face each day were signals that I had entered a danger zone. As a therapist, I understood that I could no longer hover on the edge of despair and hope. I had to understand and resolve the role of suffering in my life. . . ."
One cannot help but admire, too, the courageous ("fearless" is decidedly not an appropriate word here, for there is fear aplenty in the passages of "A Void Made True, because this author is very "courageous" in her passage through, not around, pain. As she says, in her introduction, "I . . . [vowed] I would not run from the terrible pain of grief."
As an adult reader who has experienced loss through death, I found that Carruthers often put her finger on the exact site of my pain, what it felt like, and how she faced the "exquisite prick of pain" at its core. Having allegorically taken me there, she also led me beyond that place.
She wrote, " . . . what if suffering wasn't a punishment and I its victim? . . . what if suffering brought more than pain to my life? . . . What could I learn from this habitual emotional pattern? For many years, I had judged it a curse. I began to examine the patterns and messages learned as a child . . ."
There is much to be learned from this elegant new look at the pain of loss. Dolores Carruthers' book, "A Void Made True" is a beginning place to turn many lives around. I recommend it to all of us who are experience the pain of loss and as a gift to friends who also need such help.
Betty Baxter, Ed. D.