Posts Tagged ‘Grief and Loss’

February on the Veranda

February 23, 2010

My morning meditation is the warmth of the sun and the song of the birds on my veranda. I sit crossed legged on a couch with my coffee and notebook and watch the circles of sunlight teasing their way through the canopy of trees overhead. Some mornings I just sit, trying to rid my head of all conscious thoughts and just be. Others I scribble away in my notebook, all the ideas and thoughts that come to me. My veranda, which is a popular spot for coffee and chats, and has a constant stream of visitors, is one of my favourite places in the world. It is here, I feel most at home. In the summertime, monkeys, birds and butterflies frequent the garden. Recently, there have been more butterflies than usual, which delights me, not only for their beauty but also for their obvious reminder of cycles.

This week marks the third anniversary of Stuart’s, passing. He left this world on 24th February 2007. It seems incredible that so much time has passed, in some ways, it feels like yesterday, in others, it is lifetimes ago. In Durban, it rains in February, and as I sit on the veranda and listen to the sound of the rain hammering on the tin roof of my old wood and iron house, I notice Stuart’s absence in the empty wooden rocking chair. Talking to him as I so often do, I thank him for all the things he brought into my life, including the gift of grief which has moved me more in the last three years than anything else probably could.  My hope, as always, is for him to discover the beauty that I see all around me, in himself. And as the rain continues, I hear him say, Tell the girls, I love them more than the sun, the moon, the stars and the sea.

Whisperings from Another World

January 9, 2010

This is an article I wrote for a magazine, that I wanted to share –

Whisperings from Another World: After Death Communications
Can your loved one communicate with you from the other side?
by Leila Summers

I sometimes think I can hear him in the wind or I catch a flicker of movement out the corner of my eye but when I turn, he’s not there. The first time I felt my husband, Stuart, was only a few hours after I had received the news that he had drowned at sea. I was driving when I unexpectedly felt his presence. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I nervously looked in my review mirror half expecting to see him. Then an immense calm flooded through me and as I looked across the sky, the clouds had a brilliant golden edging. I knew Stuart was trying to tell me that he was at peace. But this wasn’t my only communication with my dead husband.

The following night, I saw Stuart in a dream.  We were sitting across from each other in two old fashioned armed chairs. He was explaining things to me without actual words and I again had the sense that he was at peace. Months later, I was surprised to read that conversation in a dream visitation is always telepathic and the author described an example of sitting across from each other on two chairs in an empty room.

During those beginning days, black birds and orange butterflies seemed to follow me around. My daughters Jane, aged six, and Rose, aged four, had their own dreams and experiences. One day, Jane casually asked me why dad always runs next to the car when we are driving. I tried not to look surprised and questioned her about it. She explained that his legs move slowly and his feet don’t touch the ground.

I talk to Stuart all the time, but I am never sure if the conversations in my head are figments of my imagination. At times he even warned me of things that were about to happen before they did! Like the night I drove home late and knew that there were burglars in my house.

My most recent experience was a lucid dream. I woke up to the feeling of arms around me. As I leaned into the hug I looked down and recognised Stuart’s arms. I said – it’s you! By thought, he replied – yes, it’s me. I could physically feel the arms. The top of his body was pressed through an invisible veil, as if it was an effort. I said – you managed to get through. He answered – it is difficult. After a long hug, his form was sucked back and suddenly disappeared. I was sitting up in bed, awake and knew it was real. After some time I opened my eyes to find that I was still lying down and slowly it dawned on me that it must have all been a dream.

Skeptics will say that these are all coincidences or imagination. But whether you believe in after death communication or not, there is no doubt that these experiences can be extremely comforting and healing in the grieving process.

After Death Communication or ADC is a term coined by Bill and Judy Guggenheim, authors of the book ‘Hello From Heaven’. They define an ADC as a spiritual experience that occurs when a person is contacted directly and spontaneously by a loved one who has died. These experiences include sensing a presence, hearing a voice, feeling a touch, smelling a fragrance, visions, dreams, physical phenomena and symbols. Typical symbolic ADCs include butterflies, rainbows, flowers, birds and other animals, and any number of inanimate objects. For more information visit www.after-death.com

Leila Summers lives in Durban, South Africa, with her two daughters. She enjoys reading and writing and has a passion for research. She is busy writing her memoir, It Rains In February. Visit www.leilasummers.com

Memoir Book Proposal

October 30, 2009

I have just emailed my memoir book proposal to Hay House Publishers. All the writers who attended the Hay House Writer’s Workshop had the opportunity to send their proposals directly to Hay House by November 1st. The winner will be announced in December 2009 and will be offered a publishing contract. A nonfiction book proposal was much more work than I anticipated. My proposal was forty-two pages and took me two months to research and write. Working on it provided me with clarity and vision and I am grateful for this experience and for the deadline. It’s a strange feeling to have it out in the world but now I can surrender, knowing that wherever things go from here, will be absolutely perfect. I look forward to taking some time off!

This is a short excerpt from the opening section of my proposal, THE OVERVIEW –

It Rains In February: A Wife’s Memoir of Love and Loss is the riveting true story of a husband who is obsessed, not only with another woman, but also with ending his life. In this exceptionally honest and heartfelt narrative, Leila Summers weaves a compelling story of the extraordinary year that led up to Stuart’s suicide, and the grief and profound loss that followed, gently giving a remarkable insider’s view from both the perspective of the victim and the survivor.

One million people die from suicide every year worldwide according to the World Health Organisation. That’s three thousand deaths a day or roughly one death every forty seconds. My forty seconds came on the 24th of February 2007 when my husband drowned himself at sea. I knew it wasn’t an accident, even though the medics and police never suspected suicide. Stuart had been talking about ending his life for a year. His most recent suicide attempt had been three weeks earlier. Afterwards, he explained that day as the most peaceful day of his life. Sitting next to the dam, he smoked his last cigarette. He drank a hundred sleeping pills and did a check to make sure everything would look like an accident. The last thing he remembered was swimming out into the crystal clear water. He said that he was no longer scared of dying, that there was nothing scary about it. Living was the scary thing.

It is estimated that each suicide intimately affects at least six other people. It can therefore be assumed that six million new people are directly touched by suicide each year. The question that occupies anyone impacted by such a death for the rest of his or her life is why? Stuart’s death was unusual in that he went to great lengths to try and explain himself before he died. Although each suicide is unique, this book gives the reader insight from one suicide victim’s perspective.”

Here are some useful links I used on writing a non-fiction book proposal-
How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal 
Author! Author! :: Anne Mini’s Blog
What Is a Book Proposal for Nonfiction Writers
Nonfiction Proposals

Picture 135

It Rains In February – Book Beginnings

August 1, 2009

Everyone has a story. Mine began as a journal. In February 2007, my husband, Stuart, drowned himself at sea. My story begins one year earlier when he arrived home from work one otherwise ordinary day in February 2006 and unexpectedly confessed his love for another woman. In the year that followed, Stuart spiraled downwards into depression and talked persistently about ending his life. I spent that year torn between my heartache and trying to save him. All of this, I documented in a journal. After several suicide attempts, Stuart took his own life, leaving me widowed with our two young daughters, Jane and Rose, aged six and four. After he was gone, I neatly rewrote the scribbled tear-stained pages for my children so that they would one day know the story.

In June 2007, three months after Stuart died, I crept into the dusty little bookshop on Long Street in Cape Town to visit my first psychic. My intention was not to try and contact Stuart, I didn’t really know why I was there, I had simply followed the signs. I sat in the tiny room, across from the jolly faced psychic lady, with a dead pan face so as not to give away any clues. Her reading was long and surprisingly accurate and real. One of the things that stood out to me was when she said, “The book that you want to write, you’ve got to continue, that’s going to be a best seller… Try Hay House Publishers.”

I found the encouragement I needed to continue to write. In the year that followed, more words poured onto paper as the story expanded and became a part of my healing process. Another year went by as I worked for hours every night, the story growing and evolving as I filled in all the spaces. Finally I have a book, a memoir, my story. The first draft of IT RAINS IN FEBRUARY is a memoir of around sixty chapters. I am now working towards getting it published.

Imagine my surprise when after two years, while cruising the internet, I came across a page that had little to do with what I was searching for. It read ‘Hay House invites you to participate in the I CAN DO IT Writers Workshop I CAN PUBLISH MY BOOK’. It was a cruise around Alaska and as I read further I saw ‘One workshop participant will be awarded a contract’. I sat for some time staring at my computer screen. How had this page found me all the way in South Africa and why? I had never forgotten the psychics words. So I headed for my therapist and trusted friend. She laughed about how I always go to her with my crazy ideas only because I know she’s crazy enough to support them wholeheartedly! Three days later, I booked the cruise. I withdrew the last of Stuart’s life insurance from my savings. Every last cent. I had to be on that cruise for whatever reasons would unfold.