Local mom-daughter team pens book for parents and kids on grieving
By Nissa LaPoint
Local authors Karen Chouinard and Holly Carpenter’s book on healing is available at St. Joseph Parish in Golden.
When the sudden death of beloved husband and father Jerry Pardue hit his family after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his wife and daughter began a long process of grieving and healing.
Eighteen years later, Karen Chouinard, widowed by Pardue and now remarried, and her daughter, Holly Carpenter, published a book about their journey.
“We wrote the book we wish we’d had,” Carpenter said. “My mom and I had a lot of grief and we needed something to help us. There was nothing out there for kids and parents grieving together.”
They penned the book for adults and children who are grieving the loss of a loved one in hopes to alleviate the heartache and encourage discussion between them.
“I wanted to write it just as if talking to somebody,” said Chouinard, a parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Golden.
The colorfully-illustrated book—also drawn by Chouinard—takes readers through the alphabet, each letter representing a different emotion and experience of their journey from the adult and child’s perspective. The mother-daughter team highlighted their inner-most questions and changing relationship with God. Each letter also includes Bible passages for spiritual encouragement.
The letter ‘I’ in the book stands for “insight.”
“I still wonder—why does death occur at a particular passage in life?” Chouinard wrote. “Losses I have experienced in my life, however, have strengthened my resiliency by helping me to develop better coping skills. I have also drawn closer to God.”
Title: “Healing Together: An Alphabet Book”
Publisher: WestBow Press (2012)
Purchase: $20.95; at St. Joseph Parish in Golden, through WestBow Press or online
Carpenter wrote: “I felt like everything was bad and no good could possibly come from my Dad’s passing. The loss was too painful. It took many years to gain insight into how my father’s death was used by God to strengthen my faith.”
The idea for the book came after Carpenter’s college assignment to write about the experience of her father’s death. Collaborating on the book became an eye-opening experience, Chouinard said. They realized the differences of their journeys and grew together in faith.
“You have to believe God has a plan,” said Chouinard, who is a breast cancer survivor. “That really helped us a lot.”
Carpenter, a non-denominational Christian, experienced further trials as a student at Columbine High School in Littleton in 1999 when two fellow students killed 13 people.
Through all the life-changing events, the authors wanted to emphasize in their book what they’ve learned: God will provide comfort, peace and compassion.
“For me to know that Jesus is by my side and that he cared and had a plan for me—that was powerful,” Carpenter said.
Through the book and their own experiences, the authors embraced a renewed sense of joy and hope in their lives. Their prayer is that sharing their journey will be just as helpful to others.
FIVE TIPS ON COPING WITH LOSS
1. Give yourself time to grieve
—Authors Karen Chouinard & Holly Carpenter