Suburban Week - Volume 2 No. 18 - May 10, 2001

Kristina Strom (left) and Cynthia Beischel with copies of their new book, From Eulogy to Joy

From Glendale, A Book About Dealing With The Loss Of A Loved One

By Shannon Hill
"There are only a handful of events in life that without exception touch every single living human being -- death is one of them."
  That is the opening line of the introduction in a recently published collection of written works dealing with death and grieving compiled and published by two Village of Glendale women -- Cynthia Beischel and Kristina Chase Strom.
  The journey through grief can be a long and difficult one,
and it doesn't come with a pre-charted road map. Though the experience is different for every person and each must make his or her own way through the tunnel to the other end, there are some common detours that fall into everyone's path along the way.
   After finding solace on their own roads from eulogy to joy, Beischel and Strom compiled a collection of written works to help others navigate through their grief -- their recently published anthology entitled From Eulogy to Joy.

Kristina Strom (left) and Cynthia Beischel signed copies of their new book recently with contributor Rebecca Wright for Carl Ahrens at the New World Bookshop in Cincinnati's Clifton area. They will sign copies from 7 to 9 p.m. May 17 at the Borders bookstore in Springdale.
  Their book is the result of a seven-year process involving more than 130 individuals (including more than 20 in the Greater Cincinnati area) who were willing to share their personal experiences dealing with the various stages and events that are a part of the grieving process.
  "This isn't a quick fix or how-to book," said Strom. "This book has something to say. It's a reference book to be picked up throughout the entire grieving process."
  The co-collaborators agree that the book is not one to be read cover-to-cover. The subject matter is deep and can be overwhelming at times. But it's also a necessary and often welcome tool for those in any stage of the grieving process who need support and comfort.
  "This is a book where one piece may hit you at one moment and another piece may be more meaningful to you six months or a year later," said Beischel.
  "We want people to be able to pick up this anthology and find comfort and reassurance that what they are feeling is normal and appropriate, that their attitudes and behavior are typical for persons in their situation."
  Beischel and Strom have both experienced the difficulties of dealing with the loss of a family member and are just two of the 130-plus "experts" that lend their insights on the subject through their first-hand accounts dealing with the loss of loved ones -- children, mates, parents and friends -- through accidents, illness, suicide and even murder.
  "When we came up with the concept of From Eulogy to Joy, we weren't there yet," Strom said, "but we were hoping it would get us there."
  Readers, especially those already dealing with loss, will understand the book's message of hope and find comfort in sharing in the feelings of others who have suffered through bereavement.
  "We started putting this book together because we were both grieving a family member and were having a hard time coping with the losses," said Strom, who was traumatized when her mother died, leaving her to deal with not only her own grief but that of her father and six younger siblings. "No matter how many well-meaning people try to help, there's just no getting over death. It's an experience to go through and to grow through."
  Beischel, who kept a journal to help her work through problems after her husband died, sets the tone of growth and journeying to the new beginnings in the introduction of the book as she shares just a few of the feelings she experienced when she witnessed her husband's death.
  It reads:
  "On June 7, 1992, standing on a beautiful beach in South Carolina, I helplessly witnessed a series of events happening out in the ocean that I had difficulty understanding. I could not mentally grasp that my husband, after successfully helping to save our younger daughter's life, had just been dragged down into the depths by an undertow and drowned. I was numb with disbelief: devastation and despair would come later."
  But now, after nearly nine years have passed, she has found a sense of calm, and hopes to share some helpful information and support necessary to reach a new beginning.
  "Not everyone is going to tell you the same thing about grief," Beischel said. "Each of the more than 500 submissions we considered for the book dealt with a different experience and we were faced with the task of narrowing those down to less than 150 works that are categorized by topic in the book."
  The 19 chapters of the book are divided into such topics as "The Deaths of Parents," "Spouses, Mates and Ex's," "The Loss of Friends," "Children's Perspectives," "Reaching Out to God and Spirituality," "The Gift of Support" and "Joy."
  "The book is annotated and designed so that if you're in a certain mood you can pick it up and flip to the chapter that will help you deal with the emotions you're experiencing," Strom said.
  "We've really done a lot of radical things in this book. There's no way that one person can tell you all there is to know about death and grieving. The 130-plus voices from From Eulogy to Joy offer very different perspectives and create a multi-dimensional approach to the subject."
  A small advertisement placed in Writer's Digest sent the call out for submissions to the project. The result was a national voice joining forces with more than 20 local writers sharing their messages of grief and the journey to joy. The book includes pieces by Alan Zweibel, who shares an excerpt from his book about Gilda Radner, and Judith Jacklin Belushi, who offers an excerpt from her book dealing with the loss of husband John Belushi.
  Closer to home, Strom and Beischel are joined by such writers as Glendale residents Linda Ewing, Barbara Parks and Merritt and Lindsay Beischel (daughters of co-creator Cynthia Beischel), as well as Mason area residents Paul Handermann and Mary Kuenzig.
  "This is an important work that we hope will be around forever," Strom said. "The intensity of this project has truly enhanced our lives. We've learned so much about death and grief through this process and it's just the tip of the iceberg."
  Storm and Beischel have already received rave reviews from contributors to the book. After Alan Zweibel (one of the original writers on Saturday Night Live who wrote about his grief following the loss of his friend, Gilda Radner) finished reading the book, he called to say it was one of the most important books he had ever read.
  "My dream for the book is that it be as constant a source and as important as the Webster's dictionary or the encyclopedia," Strom said. "Of course, a best seller would be nice. Who would turn their nose up at that? But this book has a life of its own and is truly a group effort. It does have something valid to say."
  From Eulogy to Joy can be found in New World Bookshop in Clifton, Joseph Beth Booksellers, and the Century House in Glendale as well as on-line at, and
  We're just two little matrons and single moms from Glendale," Beischel said. "We've created this thing and we know it has value. It's already caught people's hearts."
  Strom and Beischel will be signing their book from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 17, at the Borders bookstore in Springdale.

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