When I first started reading "From Eulogy to Joy," I didn't like it. I
closed the book, a compilation of more than 130 personal stories about
death, after spending half an hour with it open one evening last week.
I'm not sure what I didn't like about it. Maybe reading about women
losing husbands, parents losing children, sons losing their mothers, was
not something I wanted to do.
But something made me pick up the anthology two days later. Rather
than starting at the beginning, I flipped around among chapters. This
time, I could not put the book down. More than once, I've caught my
editor glancing my way because I have kept my nose stuck in this book
too much, but I have a good reason.
"From Eulogy to Joy" is the culmination of six years of work by two
Glendale women, Cynthia Kuhn Beischel and Kristina Chase Strom.
Beischel's husband drowned in 1992. Strom's mother died two years
One ad in "Writer's Digest" resulted in 100 submissions from people
dealing with losing a loved one. Beischel and Strom also contacted
people they had seen on television and read about. Word of mouth led
others to write to the women.
"The response was overwhelming," Strom said. "We received all of these
submissions, way over 500."
In 19 chapters, all aspects of dying and death are covered - from
losing a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, even someone you hated to
death - cancer, miscarriage, birth
|defects, accidents, murder, suicide.
Also covered are ways of coming to terms with the grief.
Reading the collections of intensely personal stories, I was most
amazed by the searing honesty of the writers. One woman wrote of the
extreme cruelty her parents showed her sister as she was dying from
cancer. Another wrote why she would not go to the funeral of her cold,
distant mother when she died.
The overriding message in the book is that whatever a grieving person
feels is both normal and acceptable.
Too often well-meaning yet insensitive people, or perhaps people cut
off from their own emotions, tell grieving people it's time to move on -
to "get over it" - after a certain length of time following a death.
"We said you never get over death," Strom said. "We were feeling a
little bit out of it (following the deaths of loved ones). We knew if
we were feeling that way, other people must, too.
Beischel and Strom hope others find comfort and eventually joy by
reading about others who have gone through similar emotions and found
"Death is for the living. Both Beischel and I through this process are
very much healed. And our lives are indeed filled with peace now," she
"From Eulogy to Joy" is available in paperback for $16 from Amazon.com,
Border.com, and New World Bookshop on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton.
Beischel and Strom will be at the shop for booksigning 7-9 p.m. Friday,