In January 2020, a fellow Milwaukee author, Rochelle Melander, sent me a message regarding a series of interview blog posts she was working on and asked if I wanted to participate with “That’s All I Got!”. I said yes and while it’s original installment date was temporarily postponed, I had a surprise waiting in my email this morning.
“That’s All I Got!”, and myself are featured in this week’s Writers@Work blog with author and coach Rochelle Yolanda Melander Please check it out! While you’re at it, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (all handles are listed at the end of the interview).
This morning, I woke up to the song, “Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled” written by David Haas, on my mind and the words spilled forth from my mouth. This isn’t the first time the song has come to mind; it showed up on Tuesday night at the Survivors Helping Survivors support group for those who have lost someone to the completion of suicide. While I haven’t attended the group for years, last month I returned for a little extra support. The following words repeat in the song as the refrain and mean a lot to me:
Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God and faith in me. I will go forth to prepare a place for you and I’ll come back to take you with me. That where I am you may also be.
The words and the song have adapted from scripture, John 14:1-14. The choir at my church introduced me and the rest of the congregation to it when they sang the song as a meditation piece. Over time my brain remembered those words and they developed a special meaning and comfort level for me. The choir sings the song at funerals as well so I had them sing it at my husband’s funeral. At Holy Hill Shrine in October 18, I found a ring bearing part of the scripture verse; it’s like it knew that I would take to it and there it was for me to purchase and wear. This year, not realizing another ring I had seen also had part of the same scripture verse, decided it too wanted to share my finger.
Today the song arrived because I lost my husband to the completion of suicide 11 years ago.
I have come a long way since that tragic and traumatic day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have things that come up for me to work through. My physician has said to the affect, “grief doesn’t fully go away; it changes” and she’s absolutely right. Sometimes you need to ask for help and that’s OK! My friend Riggs told me that “asking for help is the strongest thing you can do. Don’t forget that”. I thank him for reminding me of that.
Life doesn’t end because someone you love lost theirs. It continues, but in a different way.
Recently, this poem, written for Russ’s prayer service 10 years ago by a dear friend, came to mind and I had to read it again. I wanted to share it with my readers and hadn’t put it up. After hearing the homily at mass on Sunday, once again I was reminded of how each of us can be a gift this Christmas season, not only now, but throughout the entire year. Please enjoy the following poem, “Gifts”, and think about its meaning.
By James W. Hermann
Let us be gifts to one another This Christmas season Not the kind under the tree Not the kind that is a surprise waiting inside wrapped packages. Not something we shake before opening to speculate the contents Not something we wish for from Santa. Or something that comes from a retail store. Let us not be a fad, or a gadget or a something that someone had to stand in line for Or worst of all something that was returned the next day
Let us Be, Let us BE. Let us be the kind of gift that comes from our heart That comes from our time That comes from our soul That comes from our strength Let us be the gift of ourselves for those who need us.
Let us be Russ’ kind heart Lets us turn to Faith Let us be his humility Let us be his quirky jokes Let us be unassuming and gentle Let’s us be like Russ and be everything we can be without asking for anything in return
Let us be what Russ was to us – Let us BE that for each other
In June, I signed up to participate in the 2018 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest. Today, I was notified that my book has finished its review and received a 5 star rating (in all five criteria). The review is listed below.
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite
That’s All I Got! Thrival: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide by Karen E. Voss is the author’s poignant and heartbreaking memoir as she shares her pain through the book and gives readers an intimate look into her life of grief, loss, and betrayal. The book sheds light on the daily struggles of those living with mental illness, and those who deal with the effects of loving and living with someone who has mental illness. The author speaks about reaching out for help during her days of struggles, and how it is possible to live an extraordinary life again. Her journey after her husband Russ’s suicide will touch the hearts of readers in many ways. Her story is one of pain, grief, betrayal, survival, thrival, hope, and recovery.
The author’s words are not only about her trauma and pain; she gives a good perception to readers about what it takes when it comes to living and dealing with people with mental illness. She speaks about her life extensively and intimately, and her moments of despair and difficult times are palpable. The book reaches out to readers through the author’s words and prayers and she calls herself a ‘thriver’, a warrior moving forward after tragedy, instead of a survivor. The book also sheds light on the alternate and holistic types of healing and well being that are helpful when it comes to treating mental illness. Stories like this will touch the hearts of readers – and many of them will be able to connect with the author’s pain and tragedy – but will also help them overcome their trauma and get on with their lives.
“I believe that you can have post-traumatic growth. You can find greater meaning.” -Sheryl Sandburg
I read the above quote in the article, “Finding Strength” in Great Loss” from the May 2017 issue of Redbook Magazine. The only other times I have seen the words post-traumatic have been during references of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Post-traumatic growth refers to growth after trauma and following grief. While I haven’t used the words, I too have experienced post-traumatic growth.
In December 2017, nine years passed since my husband completed suicide. Due to the traumatic events, I dealt with, worked through, and overcame PTSD. Since then I have persevered. With tools and resources to assist, I THRIVED!
In order to thrive, one must be able to work through their troubled waters. With the support of family, friends, a wellness team, my faith, keeping physically active, and other programs, I navigated the rough waters and arrived safely to shore. The tools I gathered along the way continue to fuel my journey of thrival.
“There’s bound to be rough waters and I know I’ll take a fall, but with the Good Lord as my captain, I’ll make it through it all”. -“The River”, Garth Brooks
Currently, I have 55 copies of That’s All I Got! in my personal inventory. These copies would like to be purchased (adopted) into your hands or to someone you know who may be interested in this book hands.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in owning or gifting a copy of That’s All I Got!.
If you currently own a copy and read the book, please review it on Amazon.com.
with Harper Collins, I’m published once again. Project Semicolon called out for contributors to share their story in the book Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over gearing towards 18-25 yr olds, ages where people are more susceptible to mental illness and contemplating suicide.
For those who know me, know that I’ve been on a journey after losing my husband to the completion of suicide as a result of mental illness. I’m happy to share my story because my motto states: “if I can help one person then I know I’m doing my job.” My story appears within the pages 18-19 of the Project Semicolon book. It shows my name and lists the story as “In Memoriam.”
Please consider purchasing this book for anyone you know who might find it useful and want to discover stories of courage, strength, and perseverance. Because like the ; stands for; their stories aren’t over yet.