*****UPDATED: Decemeber 11th, 2011 – Dead Dads Club: Stories of Love, Loss, and Healing by Daughters Who Have Lost Their Dads is now available for purchase on Amazon.com.
“There’s a Dead Dads Club and you’re not in it ‘til you’re in it…I’m sorry you had to join the club.”
Dr. Christina Yang – “Grey’s Anatomy”
I lost my father in 2001 to stomach cancer, I was 29 years old, he was 69. Life as I knew it was shattered into a million pieces; I simply fell apart. At the time, I searched for solace in self-help books and therapy sessions, but what really helped me was writing about it in my journals, speaking to other women who could relate and of course, the passage of time.
Two years after he passed away I wrote down an idea for a book that could help lift women up while they were nursing the hole in their heart. My idea was to gather stories, poems, journal entries etc, written by women who had lost their dads and publish them. A book that women of all ages could turn to in their time of grief, for a word of encouragement, of joy, of inspiration. A warm hug of sympathy at a time of deep despair.
Now, five years after having my initial idea, a sequence of serendipitous events has led me to rekindle the idea. I am working on it fastidiously, full steam ahead (during kids’ naps and at night). My first step was to ask my friends and family who have lost their dads to contribute. They in turn have told people and as I move forward, more and more women keep popping up that want to be involved. The initial responses from all the women have been overwhelmingly positive. I just know that this book is meant to be.
My next step is to begin writing about it in this blog. Who knows what kind of interest I will drum up in cyberspace…
I have included below some of my initial thoughts about the book and what I hope to accomplish. I am looking for submissions from any and all women who have lost their dad, any age and any circumstance. The pain is universal but each individual story is unique.
I loved my Dad more than anything. I miss him more than words. And that is the main impetus for creating this book. It’s an ode to my father…to all the lost fathers out there. And it’s a therapeutic glass of wine with women of “the club” who want to commiserate and celebrate their loss, together. I want it to be as beneficial for those that are contributing, as it is for those that read it. I want them all to know it gets better.
It aches, it bleeds, it overwhelms…it gets better.
It’s universal, it’s uniquely your own…it gets better.
You’re not alone, it’s okay to have those feelings…it gets better.
It never goes away but it does get better.
If you are reading this and have lost your father, first and foremost I am sorry for your loss. If you would like to contact me about this project or send me a submission for consideration in the book please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are reading this and have not lost your father, go give him a hug and know that this book will someday exist for you if you ever need it.
IT GETS BETTER
Stories of loss, grief, redemption and joy
from Daughters who have lost their Dad.
MY MISSION – ON A GLOBAL LEVEL
1) To offer solace and comfort to women that have gone through the devastating loss of their father. To help them:
Know what they are feeling is normal
Know they are not alone
Know that it gets better
2) To bring together the women of “the club.”
3) To allow women contributing an avenue to release some grief in a positive way through their writings and commemorate their father in a timeless manner.
4) To explore and portray the precious relationships between dads and daughters.
5) To juxtapose the universality of grief as well as the uniqueness of everyone’s individual stories
6) To raise money for and awareness of Hospice.
ON A PERSONAL LEVEL
1) I want to turn my “pity party” into something positive.
2) Pay if forward and make my dad proud.
3) To help myself and others feel close to our dads again.
First Round Submissions Deadline – December 11th, 2008
Second Round Submissions Deadline – January 21st, 2009
FINAL SUBMISSION DEADLINE – MARCH 18th, 2009
I recently received an email from a member of the club who did not actually contribute a piece for the book, but was still very curious to see how I was coming along with the project. One of her friends had just lost her father too and she was hoping to buy the book for her friend.
Also, just today I learned that a grade/high school classmate of mine lost her father this weekend. In trying to compose an email to her, I fell short of words. What I really wanted to do, besides hug her, was to give her a copy of the book, so she could know she is not alone in her grief.
Both situations reminded me of why I am on this journey, as well as reminded me that I need to post an update as to my progress.
So…here’s the dealio: As of today, I have a completed manuscript with over fifty submissions broken out into seven chapters, for which I have written all seven introductions. The stories are as different from one another as I could have imagined, but yet also proved my original theory that grief is universal. From sudden death to suicide, from prolonged illness to tragedy on 9/11, each story represents a truth for every woman who has lost her dad.
I like to call it the Les Miserables of the inspirational book world; someone dies in every chapter, but in the end, the reader is left to reflect on the beauty and wonder of life.
I waivered for an entire year on what to title the book, and ultimatley decided to go with The Dead Dads Club. At first I was hesitant to give it such a harsh sounding name, but it was truly the only title that has resonated with me. Plus, it makes the subject matter pretty clear.
I had my first “Thanks, but no thanks” email from an agent, but that’s not breaking my stride. There are women joining the club everyday that will gain solace and inspiration from a book like this, so now it’s just about finding the right fit.
I have also begun work on a website/blog, under the same name, where women who were not able to contribute to the book, can submit stories of their fathers. It will be a place to commiserate and celebrate our dads. I am going donate proceeds from the site to San Diego Hospice as well as the National Foundation for Hospice, since they are the ones who “loved my dad to death” and who helped me stumble along my journey of grief.
If you are interested in submitting a piece for inclusion on the site (even if you also have one in the book) please email me at email@example.com. Or if you are a graphic and/or web designer who would like to donate your energy to this project please let me know, since this too is a labor of love for me, and there are not many funds to back it up at this point.
I am incredibly proud that I have come this far with this project that started as a hair brained idea in a stream-of-consciousness writing exercise. The journey has been joyous so far, and I have met incredible women along the way. I will most certainly be updating this blog as soon as a publisher realized what a gem it is.