Book details Sammamish woman’s journey of grief and faith
June 19, 2012
By Jessica Yuwanto
In early 2002, Kerry Monroe, of Sammamish, learned that her youngest son Micah had adult leukemia. That was 10 days before her husband, Jim, lost his six-year battle with mouth cancer.
She had never experienced such a disorienting grief, she said, and the days and months that followed were very difficult.
After her husband’s death, Monroe and her son lived at then-Seattle Children’s Hospital for a year and a half during his treatment. She left her two teenagers — Marlana, then a ninth-grader at Inglewood Junior High School, and Brandon, then a senior at Eastlake High School — at home to take care of themselves.
Those were “pretty important times for them — breaks my heart even today,” she said. But “what choice did I have?”
Grief leads to writing
Micah recovered his health within a few years. He even went on to play for the school’s basketball team. He is now a senior at Western Washington University and will graduate this month.
On the Web
Learn more about Kerry Monroe at http://kerrymonroe.com.
Still, Monroe’s grief continued for many years. Mainly a stay-at-home mom, she served as the women’s ministry director at Calvary Chapel Eastside in Bellevue. It was at that time — six years ago — that she got the idea to write a book. Kim Case, the pastor’s wife at Calvary, suggested Monroe write about the many challenges she had faced. Such a book could help expose the truth about difficult issues that society often ignores, Case said.
“As a culture, we do like problems to be solved in 46 minutes and we don’t have the stomach for real dialogue about issues like rape, abortion, domestic violence, etc.,” Case said. “Kerry isn’t afraid to go there. (Her) loss is real, her life is open, her heart is tender.”
Monroe initially laughed at the idea. She didn’t think anyone would be interested in her story. But she had already had several poems, prose and prayers published and distributed to many churches. She often spoke at women’s luncheons and retreats. That triggered the idea that there might actually be an interest in a book.
“God Always Knew” was born. After initially publishing last summer, the book was re-released in January. Monroe said she combined her life experiences and Christian faith to write the tragedy-to-triumph story — “a very transparent look at what (the relationship with God) looks like.”
Battling painful details
Just like her personal journey, the writing process wasn’t easy. Monroe battled with the painful details of her story. She exposed her personal scars from sexual and physical abuse, identity crisis and abandonment by parents. She also faced the dilemma of how much should one share without dishonoring someone’s life, in terms of past abuse.
“Many tears were shed while writing this book for many reasons,” she said. “To open up old wounds and relive the past, or to relive all the pain of dealing with my loved ones’ battle with cancer, was daunting to say the least.”
Monroe said she wrote “feverishly” and wept through every chapter as it came out. She would then put the manuscript away and come back to it later. She said while people often hide from their true feelings, it’s really best to be honest and express the feelings as they are. She said she believes writing helps promote healing.
It took Monroe about a year to finish writing. Jebaire Publishing — an independent, nondenominational Christian book publisher — published the book last August, and then did another printing in January. As an “author’s company,” its job is “to provide a platform for the Christian writing community to have their voices heard” as it is difficult to break into the publishing industry, according to its website. The distribution list for “God Always Knew” included big names, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Monroe said she received an uplifting response for her book.
She now works at Northwest Multiple Listing Service, a database service for real-estate firms, and Marketplace Chaplains USA. She also started a grief coaching business, A.N.E.W. — an acronym for the steps needed to cope with grief — after receiving training from the Grief Coaching Center, an online training school established by H. Norman Wright and Kimberly Dinsdale.
Those steps are:
A. acknowledge the loss and accept God’s healing
N. need to trust in the new normal
E. embrace the pain and experience God’s grace
W. weep for the wrong yet continually worship the Lord.
“If my honesty and transparency can help another person to fully heal, then I have done what I believe God has asked me to do,” she said.
She said she hopes to use her story as a catalyst to shine God’s love and grace.
“You see,” Monroe said, “my story is really his story.”
Jessica Yuwanto is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.