Book cover photo provided by Mark Ireland
Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:
Mark Ireland talked about the writing process.
In his words, “My initial writings were primarily cathartic, but just days into the process some remarkable and uplifting events took place and I recorded them in journalistic fashion. I then experienced a series of events I can only describe as synchronistic in nature, which led me down a path of exploration where my story and life simultaneously evolved.
As a first-time author without celebrity status, gaining a traditional publisher was nearly impossible. But I was very determined and refused to give up. Without a Literary Agent, I sent queries to approximately thirty publishers and garnered interest from a couple. Neither of those panned out so I sent out two more queries and the very last one resulted in a contract with North Atlantic Books and Random House.”
He’s developed a support system that continues to give back.
Mark explained, “Helping Parents Heal is a brand new organization but the seeds of its existence were sewn several years ago. Back then I met a woman named Elizabeth Boisson whose son, Morgan died during a student trip to Tibet. Elizabeth had formed a group in Carefree, Arizona called Parents United in Loss, bringing people together in a safe environment where they could openly share stories about their children and form new bonds with others in the same situation. From these meetings, strong relationships were formed and most people seemed to experience an accelerated healing process.
Seeing the success of this approach, I teamed up with Elizabeth to form a larger organization leveraging the principles that worked so well in her group. First, I created a website www.helpingparentsheal.info to explain our mission and offer people some resources. Elizabeth and I then reached out to individuals interested in leading groups in other geographic locations. Helping Parents Heal is unique because we allow for the open discussion of spiritual topics, as reflected in our mission statement:
Helping Parents Heal is dedicated to assisting parents who have lost children, giving them support and resources to aid in the healing process. We go a step beyond other groups by allowing the open discussion of spiritual experiences and evidence for the afterlife, in a non-dogmatic way. Affiliate groups are expected to welcome everyone regardless of religious (or non-religious) background and allow for open dialog.
I just uploaded this video to YouTube to announce the formation of Helping Parents Heal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlYLpmfx038&feature=youtu.be
The trajectory of my life has changed rather significantly since Helping Parents Heal was formed. It has added a rich dimension to my life, where I feel I’m truly involved with something that will help many people.
You may recall the old saying, ‘It takes one to know one’ because that’s really the way it is when it comes to parents who have lost children. The bottom line is that I can relate to other bereaved parents because I’ve been through the same thing…I know how they feel and understand many of the difficulties they face. And as someone who has found the silver lining associated with loss, I’m able to share hope with others—that they too can enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. Loss really can be a catalyst for growth however I don’t usually share that with a newly bereaved individual. The by-product of growth is often something that becomes self-evident to people over time.”
He closed with thoughts about bereaving parents, “This is a tough scenario because a person must want to feel better. On rare occasion I will meet a bereaved parent who is so absorbed in their grief that they do not want to let go of it and their suffering becomes like a coat of armor. They may gravitate to a dark room at the back of their house, sitting in despair and depression—not wanting to emerge because their life will never be the same as it once was.
All I can do is listen to them and empathize, share the positives of my experiences, extend my friendship, offer resources and information, and demonstrate true care and concern. The rest is up to the individual. Ultimately they may need counseling or other services, but they must be open to receiving the help.”