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What Would the Founding Fathers Think: A Young American's guide to understanding the mess our country is in and how we get out
Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel
Captive Heart
Cobble Cavern
Caller ID
Promises
Protected,
Summer of Secrets
On Little Wings
We Lived in Heaven: Spiritual Accounts of Souls Coming to Earth
Christ's gifts to women
A Woman's power: threads that bind us to god
Scary School
Hope's journey
Blue
Targets in Ties
Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island
Venom
With a Name like Love
Sean Griswold's head


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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

His Hands: A Mother's Journey Through Grief and Loss by Jenny Hess: Review

Product Details:

  • Title: His Hands: A Mother's Journey Through Grief and Loss
  • Author: Jenny Hess
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.; 1st edition (May 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621082512
  • FTC FYI: I was given a review PDF in exchange for an honest review.





 Book Description:
May 1, 2013
With the sudden loss of a loved one comes an unavoidable fork in the road some succumb to anger and despair, while others seek strength in the healing power of Jesus Christ. When faced with paralyzing sorrow, how can one truly find peace and perspective? In His Hands offers a candid portrait of grief in which one family fights to find a way out of the black hole of grief and into the arms of the Savior. Author Jenny Hess invites readers on her journey from heartache to healing, from the shattering loss of her young son to her personal quest for hope. With grace and wisdom, the heavenly insights gained by one woman navigating through her darkest hours demonstrate that though grief is achingly painful, there are tender mercies to be found along the path.
Here is a video of Jenny talking about her experience of losing her precious son. What a beautiful lady.
 
My Review: 
 It would be an understatement to say that this book touched my heart and made me cry. I'm also a bereaved mother who lost an infant son, Matthew who was stillborn @ 35 weeks. There were so many thoughts and feelings that Jenny shared that I could relate to. There is something that draws us together when we join a club that no parent ever wants to join. Losing a child is a heart wrenching thing and changes you forever, good and bad.
  
There was something that Jenny said that was very poignant as you are dealing with a loss. This isn't fair. Why did this have to happen to me? This went through my mind plenty of times after we lost Matthew. Here is how Jenny looked at the fairness issue...
 "In those moments, my mind was opened and expanded to fully comprehend
that mortal life isn’t fair—and that’s why it isn’t forever. In that big sterile
emergency room so far from home, I saw forever, and I resolved that while
I may have to endure the indignities of an unfair existence, I would not be
ranting and raving about it. I would not be bitter about the injustice of it all.
I would be accepting of whatever my Heavenly Father required."

That is something that I wish I had read back in 1999. What a beautiful response.
I also have to thank Jenny for sharing her honest feelings at the time of her sons death. Many people don't know what to say to someone after a loss like this. Many times it's better to not say anything at all but, I'm so sorry for your loss. Jenny shared what happened in an awkward moment right after her son passed away.

"As we walked out of the hospital, one of the ambulance workers clumsily
tried to give us some comfort. “At least we know the plan of salvation,” he
said a little too heartily. I looked at him, my mind trying to process why
he would be saying something like that to us in such a happy voice right
now. It seemed so trite, so small when compared to the enormity of what
had just happened.
 
He was smiling. Why is he smiling? My son was dead. My brows were
furrowed as I continued to look at him questioningly. His smile faltered,
and he stepped away.
 
I had just experienced a transcendent spiritual experience, but my
heart was still broken. I could accept this event as part of Heavenly Father’s
plan, but simple phrases and “Sunday answers” felt empty and offensive and offered no comfort at all. "

This is why I feel that this book should be read by all people; those who have lost a child and those who will need to help and comfort those who mourn. I remember getting so frustrated with people telling me, "You can always have another baby." Truth was, we had just experienced 4 years of infertility and Matthew had been our little miracle. I knew that getting pregnant again might just never happen again for us. The Sunday Answers of..."He's in a better place," and "Matthew was just too good for this world," and the always popular, "Remember that Families are Forever," were things you just did not want to hear when your loss was so fresh. You knew all of these things were probably true, but all I wanted at that moment was a screaming, happy and alive baby in my arms. 
Jenny addresses how she and her husband Kirk discussed trying to find meaning in the death of their son. Was it to help one of their family members or a complete stranger? 

"It’s not certain that all of my family members
will stay close to the gospel even after experiencing Russell’s death. Many
strangers will still avoid God even after hearing Russell’s story. It is a terrible
reality that I have no control over. I can’t change anyone’s use of agency but
mine. And if I want Russell’s death to mean anything or have the potential
to save others, I have to be willing to put forth the effort necessary to make
it meaningful."
 

Reading this made me think back to what I have done in the past 14 years since my son died. How have I made his death meaningful to me, his brother and sister or  to complete strangers? I know I have always tried to help other Moms who have lost a child. I've been there to listen, comfort and mourn with them. I've tried to be a better Mom to my two living children and talk often about their brother and how we all want to be together some day. We also donate gift bags to the hospital where Matthew was born. These bags are given to parents that have lost a baby. We include a camera,  some poems and articles about loss and grief, and a teddy bear for them to hold. I hated leaving the hospital with empty arms.

I hope that you can see from this long review what a touching and wonderful book His Hands: A Mother's Journey Through Grief and Loss truly is. I also hope that Jenny realizes how many lives she will influence and uplift by sharing her story about her sweet son, Russell. It's hard to reflect back on those tender moments after a loss and the hard work of grieving. There is no set time table for grieving a loss. There are still some days, 14 years later, that I miss my son SO much! Matthew provided some needed comfort for me two years ago when my dad passed away. I knew that Matthew and dad were meeting for the first time. I knew that they would have work to do together up in Heaven. 

As you can see, I could write a book about Jenny's book and quote her valuable insights all day long. Please remember this book, her story and her son the next time someone you know experiences the loss of a child. There were so many days that I couldn't even crawl out of bed.  I would stay there reading any books I could find to help me with my grief and my painful loss. I can see how this book will bring such needed comfort to parents as they grieve. Just knowing that you are not alone and someone else understands can help you get through each long day. 

I want to share one last part from the book of how Jenny felt a year later after Russell had died and how she had changed. I'm sharing this to show you how to have hope amidst the loss...

"It was amazing to see the change in me in one short year because of
a single, short-lived event. That burned line in the mountain behind our
home, where the fire changed direction, was still there for a few years after
this second Christmas letter was written. I saw it every time I drove into
our neighborhood. I often think about how my life is different, how I am
different. I vaguely remember my life before Russell died. When I think
of my past now, I feel removed from it, as if I’m peeking like a voyeur
into someone else’s memories. I only know that I am a changed person, a
different creature. I have been made new, and there are days I still look at
myself as a stranger. I’m still changing and morphing and trying to decide
who I am and who I want to be
.
 
All I know for sure is the love I have for my family, my friends, my
Father in Heaven, and my Savior. My understanding of the gospel and of
the scriptures has deepened. My commitment to my Heavenly Father has
been cemented through my trials. I have been expanded, stretched beyond
my bounds. I will never again be that carefree person on the other side of
the line, but I have learned through the death of my sweet child that I will
have beauty again one day."
 
Jenny Hess
Best Price $12.24
or Buy New $12.24
 About the Author:  
Jenny Hess was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She is an avid quilter and loves the outdoors. After serving a mission in Denmark, Jenny graduated from California State University, Long Beach, where she met her husband, Kirk. They have five kids four living on earth and one living in heaven. As a family, they love spending time together camping, hiking, biking, exploring, and rock climbing. Jenny s story can be found on Mormonorg. A video vignette detailing how the scriptures helped heal her is currently being shown at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors Center in California.
 

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4 comments:

  1. Beautiful review, Sheila. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Great review, Sheila. And her writing is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Josi and Donna. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for that beautiful review, Sheila. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your son, Matthew. It does stink to be in this "club" but I get so much comfort and strength out of hearing other "club member's" stories. That's why I decided to share mine. I loved reading that you donate gift bags with teddy bears to the hospital so moms don't have to go home empty handed. Losing Russell has made me more aware of the pains of others, and more aware of the things I can do to help.

    ReplyDelete

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