The Story Behind Mom’s Search for Meaning: Grief and Growth After Child Loss by Melissa M. Monroe


California Author Pens Powerfully Poignant New Book Recovering From Losing Her Child 

Title: Mom’s Search for Meaning: Grief and Growth After Child Loss

Author: Melissa M. Monroe

Publisher: Independent

Pages: 276

Genre: Memoir

Paralyzed by guilt,
grief, and PTSD after her 2-year-old daughter Alice died in her sleep of
unknown causes, acupuncturist Melissa Monroe determined not to become a
victim in the story of her life. While taking the advice she had given
to many grief and trauma patients throughout the years, hoping she could
create a meaningful life without closure, she took notes throughout her
healing process.

Struggling to advance
her timeline beyond that of her daughter’s – and still eager to be the
keeper of Alice’s stories – Melissa began to write about Alice’s life
and the impact of her death. She became her own lab rat, trying various
approaches to healing with the hope that her experience might be helpful
to others stuck in a trauma time loop.

As much a study of trauma’s effect on time perception as it is an intimate view into the heart and mind of a bereaved mother, Mom’s Search for Meaning shows us that meaning resides in the search itself…with a spoonful of gallows humor to help the medicine go down.


“Melissa doesn’t just say the way out is through, she very much takes
us through what that looks like. And in being so specific, I think it’s
universally relatable. The final chapter is “To be, or not to be”-level
work. This is mom-loss Shakespeare.” Teresa Strasser, author of Exploiting My Baby, the upcoming Making It Home, and co-host of the syndicated TV show The List

“Melissa’s book provides powerful testimony to the strength of the
human spirit and our vulnerable, complicated, and yet inspirational
ability to heal.”  Kim Cookson, Psy.D., founder of the Trauma and
Resiliency Training and Services Program at the Southern California
Counseling Center

“It is the story of how one person found her way – with grief and
with pain, but also with humor and grace – back to a life that would be
forever different, but which couldn’t be, and wouldn’t be, anything less
than purposeful and honest.”  Dan Koeppel, author of To See Every Bird on Earth, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, and Every Minute is a Day

“The explorations of compassion are deep, Melissa’s march toward love
is inspiring, and the writing is beautiful. It is a book about child
loss that – at times – made me laugh out loud. I will never stop
thinking about this book. And I am so glad.” Liz Friedlander, film and
television director


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“When everything we love turns to ash, all we have is love. I began to realize that if I marched toward the love — even on a day when I felt like shit — I would always be guided and surrounded by love. If I cursed the path, I wouldn’t see the love that was all around me and would find a cursed path.

When Alice died, it became crystal clear to me that nothing matters but love. That clarity was notable because not one other thing was clear. But more importantly, I began to see that love doesn’t die. My love for Alice went nowhere; I just didn’t know what to do with all that love when her body was no longer here, when I could not interact with her personality or hug her chubby belly. It was clear to me my love for her survived though her body did not. I could still feel her, though I couldn’t see or touch her. Grief is love in the absence of the recipient of the love.

Grief is the phantom limb of love.

This meant I had to learn how to love someone no longer here … and to do that, I had to focus on the love that was here. And there was so much love around me, thank God.”

After my two-year-old daughter Alice died in her
sleep of unknown causes just eleven days after her second birthday, her death
was classified as Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC). Obviously, I
was, and am, devastated, but initially I was absolutely paralyzed with grief,
guilt, and PTSD. 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. So, I began documenting my
healing journey.

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. I received hundreds of notes from people telling me my words
helped them. I figured if I helped even one other person while saving myself,
this book was a mission worth undertaking. Eventually, my friend Teresa
Strasser (author of Exploiting My Baby and Making It Home) ordered me to
send her chapters, and this book was born. 

The title came from an editing note Teresa used to
describe the book. And then I remembered that grief guru David Kessler says
that “finding meaning” is the sixth stage of grief. While discussing
potential titles with another friend, Mom’s Search for Meaning was the
clear winner. After Alice died, I found myself searching for meaning long
before I knew it was advisable to do so. In cases like Alice’s, where no cause
of death can be determined, one’s need for “closure” becomes
unattainable, and therefore, finding meaning can become a driving force. It was
for me, at least. 

Now living in Los
Angeles with her daughter Grace, Melissa M. Monroe was born in Yuma, AZ.
She attended Loyola University in Chicago. After finishing at Loyola,
she studied modern dance at the University of Chicago. In 1995, she moved to
California to train in Pilates, yoga, and acupuncture, which she
practices as a professional.




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