Living with a Broken Heart  -     By: Paul O'Rear
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Living with a Broken Heart

Tate Publishing / 2014 / Paperback

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Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 228
Vendor: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 X 0.48 (inches)
ISBN: 1630631787
ISBN-13: 9781630631789

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Author/Artist Review

Author: Paul O'Rear
Located in: Waxahachie, Texas
Submitted: May 28, 2014

    Tell us a little about yourself.  I have spent most of my adult life serving as a minister with two congregations in Texas. My wife Susan and I were blessed with two wonderful children: a daughter Ashley and a son Justin.

Ashley was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at age nine. She underwent a year and a half of surgeries, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy, and was cancer-free for about three years. Then her cancer came back. It was much stronger the second time around, and the recurrent tumors took her life at age fourteen.

Justin was just eleven years old when he lost his big sister and only sibling. He is now grown and married, and still carries Ashley's memory in his heart.

    What was your motivation behind this project?  As a minister, I have mourned with people who were grieving. I have read about grief in preparation to minister to those whose hearts were broken. I thought I understood grief. I thought I knew all about the grief process and the various stages of grief. But nothing could prepare me for the gut-wrenching, life-altering experience that lay ahead of us after Ashley's death. As we embarked on our grief journey, I began to realize rather quickly that this whole grief thing was not unfolding like I had expected it would, and there were times when our grief experiences did not fit other people's expectations, either. I began taking notes about our experience. I began talking to other grievers about their experiences. I began to understand that hearts broken by grief cannot be fixed, and that everyone's grief experience is uniquely their own. I decided that it was OK for my grief experience to be unique, even if other people didn't understand. That decision was freeing and empowering. I think there are a lot of people who think something is wrong with them if their grief doesn't follow some prescribed template with each successive grief stage coming and going in the proper order. I think there are a lot of people who worry that something is wrong with them if they are not able to "get over it and get on with their lives". Getting on with life is important, but getting over it is not an option. And so I decided to write this book so that there would be at least one voice saying, "It's OK if your grief journey doesn't look like everyone else's. And it's OK if your heart still hurts and feels empty even after everyone around you seems to have forgotten." That's why I wrote this book.

    What do you hope folks will gain from this project?  I hope people will gain hope and encouragement in the middle of their grief journey. I hope that grievers will be encouraged to embrace their grief as a healthy response to loss. I hope I can help brokenhearted people find the courage and the emotional strength to rediscover life and love and laughter even while their hearts are still broken. I hope I can help those who have a friend or family member who is grieving, understand better what they can do to help the griever. And I hope that people will be inspired by the courage, the grace, and the tenacity of my Ashley, and will find their own courage to face their own struggles with the heart of a warrior.

    How were you personally impacted by working on this project?  It took me ten years to write this book. I watched my grief gradually transition from an overwhelming, raw, gut-wrenching emptiness, to a more mature, balanced, managed pain that stays below the surface most of the time. The act of verbalizing that whole process through writing has helped me more fully understand that grief is not an enemy to be defeated. It is simply the new reality. Rather than try to process it out of my life and get past the pain, I have realized that it is much healthier to accept the pain, and even incorporate it into my family's life in positive and constructive ways.

    Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists?  My dad will always be my hero. He lived a life of service to others and to God. I want to be like him. My mom has been a constant, steady example of what it means to lead a quiet life of compassion. I will forever be grateful for her calming influence in my life. My wife Susan has been by my side through the darkest days and has always been fiercely loyal. I have learned so much from her about what it means to live in a covenant relationship. My daughter Ashley's motto throughout her cancer battle was, "Trust in God and never give up". I've been a minister most of my life, but she taught me what it means to have a simple, trusting faith in God. I want to be like her. My son Justin is one of the greatest blessings God has granted me. We butted heads throughout his teenage years, but he never gave up on me and I never stopped loving him. He has experienced so much loss and had so much darkness thrust upon him, and yet he has allowed those trials to refine him and make him stronger instead of allowing them to crush him. He is a survivor. He has taught me much about how to stare down Satan and say, "You will not defeat me!" I want to be like my son. "Where the Red Fern Grows" moved me deeply as a boy, creating in me a longing for a simpler world, and I think in some ways even preparing my heart for loss. Other authors and writers whose lives and writings have had a significant impact on my life include Nikki Stone, Napoleon Hill, Dean Kilmer, Michael Whitworth, John Dobbs, Dwayne Morris, Jeff Goins, Michael Hyatt, Alene Snodgrass, John Wood, Fern Hill, Larry Barber, Danny Mack, Darrell Scott, Daniel Mansell, Marsha Jordan, Kevin Guilfoile, Chad Miller, Neal White, Stephen Covey, Jeff Jenkins, Kevin Rhodes ... and that just scratches the surface.

    Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know:  I also wrote a song in memory of Ashley, entitled "Until Then".

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