Dr. Melissa M. Monroe is strong. This much I know. I don’t presume to know anything else about her life, or the cataclysmic sense of loss when it comes to her young daughter Alice’s untimely passing. But she is strong, and that strength shows itself in the complete and unapologetic emotional honesty of her book.
Simply titled Mom’s Search for Meaning in spirit to Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning, plus sharing some universal sentiments from both books to boot, Monroe is able to capture in a bottle the grieving process, and subsequently what it means to heal. Healing is not overnight, and may never come in the third act sense it’s often romanticized to be. Rather, it is an ongoing dynamic process. Something that is about the journey, more than it is about the destination. In an interview with WE Magazine for Women, Dr. Monroe talked about the specifics of the writing process, what the origins for Mom’s Search for Meaning were, and how it was through a collective process she began to find something affirming in a personal, and professional, context.
“I began my blog Mothering in Memoriam about a month after Alice died because I could barely speak, and folks wanted to know how I was doing. They also wanted to know what happened. I thought some friends and family would read the blog, and I’d save my breath and sanity because re-telling the story over and over was traumatizing. But the blog took on a life of its own, something I didn’t expect,” Dr. Monroe stated. “I received hundreds of notes from folks who said they found my words helpful, even though they were not loss parents. It never occurred to me that my words would help anyone but myself, but once I realized they helped others, I knew I had to keep going. Eventually, my friend Teresa Strasser (author of Making It Home) ordered me to turn the blog into a book and send her chapters. Fun Fact: Teresa also unwittingly named the book in one of her notes on my manuscript.”
It’s funny how the intensely personal, particularly over something so devastating, can sometimes resort to a deeply meaningful and successful project. What Dr. Monroe has been able to do with a work like Mom’s Search for Meaning is highlight the profundities of her own loss, and of Alice’s memory. In addition, she shines a light on an issue affecting mothers, families, and people nationwide and across the globe.
By keeping things personal, Monroe is able to simultaneously communicate effectively to a wide audience, while never at the expense of her own humanization. The result is a phenomenally powerful read, with considerable things to think about and to help one through when the night is long…