Colors of Goodbye  -     By: September Vaudrey
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Colors of Goodbye

Tyndale House / 2016 / Paperback

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Product Description

Colors of Goodbye is a tale of joy and tragedy in tandem; a profoundly personal memoir from a life forever changes by one empty place at the table. September Vaudrey takes us to the depths of grief and heights of love in a poignant, raw search to discover whether, despite even the worst of losses, life can be beautiful still.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 272
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1496408179
ISBN-13: 9781496408174

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Publisher's Description

What happens after the worst happens?
Before May 31, 2008, September Vaudrey’s life was beautiful. But on that day, with one phone call from the ER, her whole world—everything she knew and believed—was shaken to the core. Katie, her 19-year-old artist daughter, had been in a car accident and would not survive. How does a family live in the wake of devastating tragedy? When darkness colors every moment, is it possible to find light? Can God still be good, even after goodbye?

With the depth of C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed and the poignancy of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Colors of Goodbye offers a moving glimpse into a mother’s heart. Combining literary narrative and raw reflection, September Vaudrey walks through one of life’s worst losses—the death of a child—and slowly becomes open to watching for the unexpected ways God carries her through it. It’s a story of love and tragedy in tandem; a deeply personal memoir from a life forever changed by one empty place. And at its core, Colors of Goodbye calls to the deepest part of our spirits to know that death is not the end . . . and that life can be beautiful still.

Editorial Reviews

On May 31, 2008, Vaudrey’s 19-year-old daughter Katie was in a fatal car accident. She was home on summer break from Azusa Pacific, where she was studying art, and that particular day she was running late for her waitressing job. Vaudrey and her husband, a pastor at Chicago-area megachurch Willow Creek, rushed to the hospital to find Katie in a coma with a broken neck and severe intracerebral hemorrhaging. Was her accident the result of sloppy teenage driving, or—as Vaudrey saw in a vision—had Katie already been unconscious at the time of the crash from a burst aneurysm? With Katie brain-dead, their large, close-knit family had just 24 hours to say goodbye. This moving debut memoir, richly illustrated with Katie’s own artwork, interweaves medical detail, flashbacks to Katie’s childhood, convincing reconstructions of dialogue, and a brave rendering of the two years following her death. The content is lovingly arranged under color headings and inspirational epigraphs. Grief was often nearly overwhelming, but the whole “horrid-beautiful” time drew Vaudrey closer to God. “Don’t put it off. Don’t avoid. Lean into the pain,” she kept reminding herself. Exquisitely balanced between sadness and joy, this sensitive account of a mother’s loss will leave ripples.
The author writers with colorful prose about her personal walk through pain and darkness in the early months after her daughter’s death. As a keen observer of life and people, Vaudrey eloquently captures her husband’s and remaining children’s stories just as clearly as her own. Colors of Goodbye walks readers through the steps of grief and into the brave new tomorrow that will always be checkered by loving memories of a child who died far too soon. Readers will appreciate the skillful manner in which Vaudrey brings faith-based life principles into every scenario while tenderly addressing the natural scars that open and close when a loved one dies. Her experience will comfort and challenge anyone who has dared to love deeply, lost profoundly, and kept on loving just the same.

Product Reviews

5 Stars Out Of 5
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3.8 out Of 5
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3.8 out Of 5
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Displaying items 1-4 of 4
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  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Emotional Read
    June 14, 2016
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This is one book that will stay with me forever. It is powerful, heartbreaking, compassionate and a story that is every family's worst nightmare. There are really no words to say to a parent that would comfort them during this time, but this book definitely made me realize how short life can be. As the saying goes, "In a blink of an eye."

    Katie Vaudrey was a vibrant young woman who had just finished her freshman year at college. She was beginning her first day of her new job . She was outgoing, and loved to tell others about her love for God. One day a tragedy happened that forever changed the Vaudreys' family forever. The pain, grief, anger and depression quickly set in. Thank you Septrmber Vaudrey for sharing your story about the loss of your daughter. Your words will someday help another family as they grieve the loss of their child. Katie was taken too soon and no parent is ever ready for that. As I read the book, I felt the tears roll down my face. The unbearable pain I felt for this family was overwhelming. They say time heals all wounds, but sometimes those wounds are too deep . I am thankful I had an opportunity to read this book and be challenged to remember everyday is precious.

    I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Bloggers Program for an honest review.
  2. Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Living Fully with a Broken Heart
    June 2, 2016
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    For ten lovely years we were six.

    I loved being six. In fact, I loved it so much that my email address incorporates our last name and the number six.

    However, numbers change as children grow up and take flight. After our oldest son married, we were mostly five, but sometimes seven; and when son number two left for college we became four on a day-to-day basis.

    But sometimes gloriously we are eight because of a grandboy.

    I am blessed by this joyful numbering, but what happens when the numbers change for other than joyful reasons?

    What if the numbers change because of the death of a child?

    September Vaudrey has shared her story of decreasing numbers that came with the death of her middle daughter at the age of nineteen. Colors of Goodbye is a story of hope in a minor key, a story of letting go. When September sensed the voice of God saying, I am good. This tragedy does not change My character. It doesnt change who I am. I am good, she left the door of her heart open to receive evidence of this truth. The resulting memoir is very personal, and yet manages to capture the experience of the entire familys grief and to offer a record of helpful ways in which their community responded.

    Although the authors focus is definitely the death of her daughter Katie from a cerebral aneurysm, the book is also about Katies life: how she wanted to leave ripples in the lives she left behind; how her faith informed her art (and vice versa); how her strengths as well as her faults contributed to her role in the family. Then, because Katies funeral occurs at about the half-way mark in Colors of Goodbye, the second half of the book provides a poignant travelogue of one familys slow traverse through the desert of grief.

    I have emerged from this gripping read with a series of impressions, a supply of common-sense advice for ministering grace to the grieving, and some forcefully expressive insights to the loss from which a parent never fully recovers:

    Each family member must be free to grieve in his own way. An extrovert, September struggled to understand the low-key responses of her introverted husband and children. It appears that each tendency carries its unique freight of disadvantages with extroverts oversharing (to the horror of Septembers children) and introverts stuffing their feelings, and, perhaps, slowing their process of healing. Scott (Katies father, Septembers husband) needed quiet and distance in order to grieve well. He took on a landscaping project and the physical work probably helped. By contrast, September needed to keep a vigil over Katies last hours in the hospital, to do Katies make-up and hair for the funeral, to take pictures of her daughters dying. She shares the importance of having no regrets and the fact that, From the very beginning, our grief looks starkly different and equally right for us both. It is critical for families to give each other the space to grieve in the manner that seems right for them.

    2. When losing a child, you grieve not only for your own loss, but for everyone elses, too. September found that commonality of trauma gave mutual understanding. Pain is pain, no matter its source. However, the pain must be faced head on.

    3. God does not promise parents a lifetime with their children here on earth. This was a truth that September had to return to again and again. It was heartbreaking to read her accounts of pleading with God to turn back the clock: Let Katie have a headache. Well take her to ER, theyll detect the aneurysm, and this story can have a different ending. Scott Vaudreys prayer frames the Christians vantage point: How blessed we are that someday we will see her again. We grieve deeply, but we grieve with hope.

    4. The death of a child brings unique pain to a family. Their other children will pose for up-to-date family pictures, will likely add spouses and kids to their photos while the picture of the child who has died remains frozen in time, out-dated, and unchanging. The dead child will not be present in siblings wedding and graduation pictures. There is a tendency for parents to over-protect and worry obsessively over the safety of remaining children, and divorce statistics for bereaved parents are very discouraging.

    5. The day after the funeral is not a finish line, but a starting line. Several times in her dated entries from the three years following Katies death, September shared her feeling of being trapped in an endless season of waiting. When will life get back to normal? She worked her way through what she referred to as death chores (writing thank you notes, throwing away bouquets, dealing with paperwork such as medical bills and insurance details, disposing of possessions), trusting for release from pent up sorrow. Even knowing intellectually that, at some point, she needed to accept her new life her very different life without five children, her heart still needed to process that brave surrender.

    6. Septembers memoir is a valuable record of the body of Christ showing up in meaningful, appropriate, and significant ways for a grieving family. I kept a running list of all the thoughtful and helpful acts of love the Vaudrey family received, and I hope that if someone close to me is suffering in that way, I will remember to refer to that list. It ranged from the small and practical (restaurant gift cards tucked into sympathy cards, making it clear that its o.k. to talk about the deceased and then listening with patience, providing meals for the family and help with the children) to the significant and symbolic (planting a tree in the yard in memory of the child, including the family in events that would have involved the child, noting anniversary dates, accompanying the parents in difficult duties associated with the childs death). September spoke fondly of her posse of girlfriends who ministered to her in ways that even her family was unable to do.

    7. The circumstances of Katies death made her an ideal organ donor. The Vaudreys were open and accepting of this option, and September shares how this decision both helped and exacerbated their pain, while affirming that it was the right decision for them.

    Colors of Goodbye displays with candor the entire palette of September Vaudreys journey through grief. The truth of Gods mercy is put on display, and she trumpets with joy the blessed hope that the believer does not sorrow as others who have no hope. On the other hand, this is no candy-coated misuse of Romans 8:28 with the error of forcing . . . tragedy into some sort of beautiful blessing without giving nod to [the] lacerating loss.

    The Vaudreys lives were forever changed on May 31, 2008 when their daughter died. I write as an outsider to this form of grief. However, I believe that, by the grace of God, they have allowed (and Im sure are still allowing) their heartache to transform their lives with a beauty and joy that is theirs because of (not in spite of) their pain and loss.


    This book was provided by Tyndale Momentum, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
  3. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Seeing Beauty in the Sorrow
    May 13, 2016
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The book I read this week was one I was willing to start recommending when I was only halfway through. I sat on the couch in a full-blown ugly cry, mascara and snot running everywhere, fully engrossed in the beauty and sorrow of the story before me.

    September Vaudrey's memoir, Colors of Goodbye, tells the unimaginable {to me} pain she and her family experienced when her nineteen year old daughter, Katie, died following an automobile accident. Katie was vibrant in life, passionate about the Lord, and talented beyond measure as an artist. Her life, so full of promise, ended on this earth without warning, and September, her husband Scott, and their other four children were left to wrestle through a grief they could not understand and had not prepared to face.

    The first part of the book is told in first person and tells the story of Katie's final hours and the days leading up to her memorial service. September's writing style is raw and beautiful, and it was this portion of the book that led me to the ugly cry {which I rarely do when reading}. Her words drew me into the very rooms and the loss itself. I never met Katie, but I grieved her as through September's words, I stood there and witnessed the deep sorrow.

    In alternate places, the first portion of the book tells stories of Katie's life, further introducing me to this contagious spirit that left me convicted to live more fully and love more deeply.

    The second portion of the book covers the weeks, months, and years following Katie's death, when the Vaudrey family - in all their varying styles of grief - learned to fumble and forage their way through their new, uninvited normal. September wrestles through hard topics, like understanding how God can be good and merciful when prayers are answered with a no. She vulnerably shares her own failings in grief and the things that worked for her, too. It's a grief guide that left me nodding and underlining along the way.

    I appreciate September's style, because she doesn't write in a way that forces you to adjust to any lyrical or poetic voice. She is simply a friend, a sister, a mom, sharing her story. Introducing you to her daughter whose life was imperfect, yet joyously contagious. Offering her wisdom from the trenches. Not covering up the ugly and not denying the beautiful.

    If you've ever lost a child, I think you should read this book. If you've ever lost anyone dear to you and you find yourself wrecked and lost in grief, I think you should read this book. If you want to meet an incredible young woman who lived to the fullest and left a legacy that indeed leaves ripples, I think you should read this book.

    And bring lots of Kleenex.

    Thank you, Tyndale, for publishing a needed and well-crafted memoir and for providing a copy for me to read!
  4. Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Colors of Goodbye
    May 5, 2016
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    It is the most beautiful thing to be able help someone during their time of devastating pain and loss. However, it can feel like a lost cause because many of us do not know this kind of devastation, but it is showcased in one of the most amazing books ever in a clear and precise way that is heartbreaking and inspiring. So few memoirs grasp my attention like Colors of Goodbye: A Memoir of Holding On, Letting Go, and Reclaiming Joy in the Wake of Loss by September Vaudrey did and I suggest everyone grab a copy. It breaks my heart to read the way this brave family was able to endure the loss of a loved one. They were able to overcome and rally together during one of the most stressful and lonely times in ones life. I found the power, strength, determination, and bravery to continue on as pure inspiration. I can say, which still shocks me, that I have endured the loss of loved ones and I still feel the horrible pain of their passing. It still feels so raw three months later and this memoir captured everything that I felt in a way that I did not think could ever be put in to words. This is the kind of memoir that will have a everlasting effect on me and those around because it will be my go-to book for devastating loss. I received a copy for this review from Tyndale House Publishers and all opinions are my own.
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