EV author pens new book on parental death's impact |  Community

EV author pens new book on parental death’s impact | Community

East Valley freelance author Michelle Shreeve was only 9 when her mother died and even 30 years later, her loss is never far from her mind.

In many ways it has shaped her career as a student and a writer.

While earning her master’s degrees in English and creative writing, one of her projects focused on how bibliotherapy and writing therapy can help children, teens, and young adults cope with the death of a parent at a young age.

She has written numerous articles for local and national publications about the impact of a parent’s death on children and teens and in 2018 published a book, titled “Parental Death: The Ultimate Teen Guide,” that was based on her interviews with 90 people ranging in age from pre-teen to the mid-80s.

It was the 56th book in the “It Happened to Me Ultimate Teen Guide” series published by Rowman & Littlefield and is still available on a variety of book-sale websites.

This month, Shreeve is publishing a sequel to her book that is directed mainly at teens who have lost a parent and for the surviving parent trying to guide an adolescent child through the trauma of losing a mother or father.

“Parental Death: The Ultimate Teen Guide,” which is also published by Rowman & Littlefield, offers a variety of ways in which teens especially can cope with the universal difficulties of losing a parent.

She also delves into the unique dynamics of specific losses – sons who lose fathers, daughters who lose mothers, and vice-versa – and how that impacts a teen’s future development. This book also identifies how the challenges of life without a parent can affect a young adult at different stages of life.

Shreeve has been writing about parental loss and its impact since 2008 and has talked not only with counselors and experts but dozens of people young and old who lost a parent as a child.

“I got creative with my own research along the way, researching writing therapy, bibliotherapy, and movie therapy, focusing on fictional relatable characters who lost a parent,” she said. “I’ve compiled lists over the years of notable society members who lost a parent young, but still gave something extraordinary back to the world such as Nobel Prize Laureates, athletes, scientists, actors, and more to serve as a healing coping mechanism.

“This book, and the research and interviews I conducted for my first book, have all been a 30 year process for me. In both books, I’ve shared what I’ve learned along the way to try and help others navigate this difficult situation.”

Shreeve felt a certain urgency to write a book that focused on the unique impact of a parent’s death on a teenager.

“When a parent dies before a child turns 20, they’re still very much dependent on them in many ways – emotionally, financially, physically, and more,” she explained. “So many changes take place and life right after their death can be really overwhelming, confusing, so many emotions are going on and they suddenly feel empty without their parent. This book would be the ideal go-to book for a child, teen, or young adult who just lost a parent, or a book for adults looking to support grieving children.”

A major undercurrent to her book is provided by real-life experiences that people of all ages shared with her.

For the first book, Shreeve put the word out on social media and through various local publications she was looking for people who lost a parent as a child and she was bombarded by more than 90 letters from people of all ages.

She did it again for her new book, but didn’t garner nearly as many, although she added, “I thankfully was able to interview 13 brave participants.”

“The pandemic caused issues for me writing this book,” said Shreeve, explaining, “I was having trouble finding participants willing to share their story. They had a minimum amount of participant stories they wanted me to include throughout the book, and I was struggling with getting teens to commit.”

“I pretty much wrote this second book right smack in the middle of a pandemic and a recession which was no easy task,” he said. “However, sadly, more than 200,000 children have lost their parent due to COVID-19 alone, so I feel like the timing of this book was meant to be, as it can serve as a helpful resource to all of these newly grieving parentless children. .”

Shreeve explained, “A lot of the teens I interviewed for this book were struggling to participate, not only because they are so young and have been dealing with a lot just regarding the death of their parent alone, but also because of the at-home school transition caused by schools closing their doors due to the pandemic.”

Her subjects for the new book’s interviews ranged from 15 to 65 years old and she describes them as “brave” because “it’s not easy to share your story, especially when you’re young and the loss is so new.

“I was there in that position once myself and completely get it.”

One of her most memorable interviews involved a young teen who had lost one parent around the time she wrote her first book and the other around the time she was preparing the new one.

“My heart broke for that participant because the participant is still just a young teenager and has already gone through two tragic parental losses,” Shreeve said.

Now that the new book is ready to hit book shelves, she said, “I’m very thankful for the participants who came forward, for had they not, this book, as well as my first one, would not have been made to try and help others.”

… She said her book “can also be a helpful resource for grieving families, teachers, school administrators, counselors, organizations, and other supportive adults looking to help guide and support youth trying to navigate the death of their parent.”

“My hope for this book is that no child, teen, young adult, or grieving family will think they are alone in navigating this tragic situation,” Shreeve said, “and that every reader can walk away feeling like there’s at least one person on the planet that can relate to what they’re going through and that some of my research and individual chapters can give positive insight into their loss to help guide them to a positive future.

“I hope readers will appreciate the bravery my 13 participants had by sharing their personal story of the death of their parent when they were young that can also provide many unique perspectives that can hopefully help readers as well. “

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