I first met Patrick Malone under circumstances no one ever wants to meet. It was at a meeting of The Compassionate Friends in Lawrenceville in 1998. I was grieving the death of my 16-year-old son Loren. Malone was grieving the 1995 death of his 25-year-old son Lance. And his infant son Scott in 1971. And his daughter Erin, who left his family via miscarriage in 1974.
Malone admits he initially had no interest in support groups and that he went "kicking and screaming" at his wife's request. However, he found it to be very therapeutic, both with the recent loss of Lance and the repressed grief over his other two children.
"When I dealt with my own grief enough and didn't feel the need to tell my own story, I felt I could help others," Malone said. "Part of the healing process is giving back to others."
With that he became very active in TCF, holding several offices at the national level.
"Then I started writing for a broader audience," Malone said. "It was a natural transition for me. I believe I will see my kids again and when they ask me what I did with the rest of my life I want to be able to say I did something beyond just remembering them." Malone moved forward with what he calls emotional reinvestment.
"I do a lot of work with grief in the workplace," he said. His articles have appeared in national publications and he was a featured speaker on the radio show "Healing the Grieving Heart."
Then Malone started contributing columns to the website, Open to Hope, which features inspirational stories for people dealing with any kind of grief. When editors Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley decided to compile some of the stories into a book, Malone's was among them. That book, "Open to Hope: Inspirational Stories of Healing after Loss," came out last June. Bernie Siegel, M.D., who in May was named one of the Top 20 Spiritually Influential Living People on the Planet praised it by saying, "This book is about more than finding hope. Loss is inevitable, but what we do with it is a choice we must each make."
Now the Horsleys have released a second book, which again will feature Malone's writings.
"Once again I have been honored to be selected as one of the contributing authors of the Open to Hope Foundation's new book 'Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays after Loss.' I am truly humbled to be in the company of so many experts on grief recovery and reinvestment. The new book is available at http://opentohope.com and might be an especially meaningful gift to anyone coping with a loss at this time of the year," Malone said.
Even if you haven't yet lost a loved one, the site offers many suggestions for supporting a friend or co-worker who faces the choice of making a reinvestment in life.
Susan Larson is a writer who lives in Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.