Writing Aftermath was like leaning over to take a sip of water from a fountain and realizing that it was instead a fire hydrant spewing a forceful stream of memories, emotions, and questions. When New Hope Publishers asked me to write Aftermath as a follow-up to When Grief is Your Constant Companion: God’s Grace for a Woman’s Heartache (written by my mother, Carolyn Rhea), I accepted without hesitation. Tragically, at the same time my mother’s book about grief was published in 2003, she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and died within months. Ironically, at the time of Aftermath’s release in 2012, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Thankfully, the surgery was successful and the subsequent treatment plan should ensure an excellent outcome.
My plans vs. God’s plans
Before writing this book, I thought I was ready to help others by neatly packaging and sharing the tangible handles that helped me through my own grief process. But you can’t neatly wrap a wrecking ball like grief and God had other plans for the book.
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.—Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
Aftermath became an extremely personal process of revealing and healing. In writing this book, I had to painfully excavate my past and examine my relationship with my mother. I cried when I typed the truth—that I was not very close with my mother until I became a mother. However, the surprising discovery of my mother’s letters, private journals, and her notes in the margins of her Bible and devotional books ultimately strengthened my relationship with God and brought me to a deeper understanding and appreciation of her. Finding and reading my mother’s words has been a “hug from heaven”—an unexpected blessing and affirmation of God’s living presence in my life.
Excerpts of my mother’s writings along with letters written by my father and grandparents are included in Aftermath. These multi-generational footprints of faith provided a path that led me closer to the Lord. My heartfelt prayer is that you too will grow in grace through grief.
Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; and Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace.
Margaret has a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business. As is the founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren inUgandathrough Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.