Monday, May 9, 2016

"Death doesn't sell," said the store clerk.

I'll never forget the words the event coordinator said when I inquired about a book signing at Barnes & Nobles. "Death doesn't sell," she flatly declared.

How do you argue such statement? I think of all the people in need of comfort. People like the teenage girl who lost her mother to a drunk driver. 

People like my friend who unexpectedly lost her husband while waiting for him to return home so they could enjoy their nightly glass of wine together. Her husband never made it home. He died in town from a heart attack.

"Death doesn't sell." 

Why does that statement bother me so much? Is it because of the calloused attitude lurking behind it? Is it because the clerk made me feel like profit trumps over compassion?

Her words are true. I know that much. No child ever says they want to grow up to work in the bereavement field, And nobody goes into the bereavement field to become rich. 

Death is a part of life. We can't argue that. But it remains a major catastrophe for most; a seismic event so large it alters our landscape, our future, forever.

So here is what I want to say to the store clerk:

"Death doesn't sell. But comfort does." 

Over the weekend I learned that one of our books was named a national finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards. Grief Diaries: Surviving Loss by Suicide is an intimate collection of true stories about ordinary people surviving the terrible aftermath of losing a loved one to suicide. 

Last year, as we compiled all those sacred stories, I knew in my heart that the book would make a difference. But when I received our official congratulations notice from NIEA, I was shocked. I had become used to the little recognition society gives the aftermath of loss.

Until now.

To the writers who bravely shared their journeys in Grief Diaries: Surviving Loss by Suicide, I want to say this: your voices have been heard. Your stories will make a difference for the 40,000 Americans who lose a loved one to suicide every single year, and countless more around the world. Thank you for being the light of compassion. And hope.

And to the Barnes & Nobles desk clerk, I say this:

You're right. Death doesn't sell. 

But comfort does.

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