Amy Munnell is my special guest today. I met Amy at Southeastern Writers Workshop around 1991. Lord, that almost 20 years ago. Amy wanted to share a special project with us and I couldn't say no to her.

Hey, Amy, good to see you here today. Your project sounds fascinating.

First, I’d like to thank Mary for offering me this chance to guest blog. It is very generous, especially since I am not a romance author.

Saying Goodbye to the people, places & things in our lives is the first of a series of anthologies from the publisher Dream of Things, aimed at bridging the gap between the style of today’s popular anthologies and the substance of the Best American Essays series. Over 200 authors from the United States, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere submitted work for consideration. Each essay was selected to build an exploration of loss and grief from many different angles and in a variety of ways, including with humor.

I am one of those 31 international authors featured in Saying Goodbye. My essay, “A Tree of Life,” looks at my inner struggles with my sister’s death when she was 12. Only 18 months apart, we shared the same disability with Marcia paving the way for us with our parents, in school and in the community. I had it pretty easy living in her shadow. After she died, life pushed me out front and center and I was overwhelmed.

I began “Tree” as an exercise while in therapy 20 years later. In it, I share how discovering the busy daily life of a tree, planted with my sister’s ashes, helped to pull me out of the chaos of my depressed mind and still offers an escape when needed. Other essays in the book discuss losing a parent, the destruction of a childhood home (“Ghosthouse”), the death of a pet, and in the essay “Bridget,” author Stephen Parrish describes finding, then losing his imaginary friend.

The holiday season intensifies the feelings of isolation in someone who has lost a loved one. Saying Goodbye can offer a sense of community and comfort through the experiences of nearly three dozen authors who have shared that pain and understand. For more information and to read a sample chapter, visit the Saying Goodbye website:

Thank you again for this chance to discuss my book. May the holiday season be full of joy and wonder!

~~Amy Munnell


  1. Mary Marvella // December 2, 2010 at 12:59 AM  

    Good morning, Amy!

  2. Mona Risk // December 2, 2010 at 7:43 AM  

    Amy, welcome to the PFS and thank you for your powerful post and book. I will check it.

    Saying goodbye is never easy. I recently lost my mother. She was old and sick, but kept her head, sense of humor and assertiveness to the last moment. I grieved and tried to keep going, but two months later I still have no motivation and feel so restless. I tried many things to keep busy, mingled with friends, made new acquaintances, and got involved into different projects, but I can't enjoy anything and often tear. I was told that time will help.

  3. Judy // December 2, 2010 at 8:04 AM  

    Lovely, Amy! It's a book that will be valuable to so many people and stories written from the heart are always wonderful! I hope your holidays will be peaceful ones...

    Thinking of you, Mona....

  4. Beth Trissel // December 2, 2010 at 9:17 AM  

    Welcome to the Fuzzies, Amy. I found your post deeply touching. This sounds like a good story/place for me to visit. I understand loss.
    I love your old photograph too. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Amy Munnell // December 2, 2010 at 9:58 AM  

    Good morning!
    Thank you ladies so much for your kind comments. I'm really glad to have this opportunity.

    @Mona—I'm really sorry for your loss. There are no norms when it comes to grieving, no schedules, no routines. All you can do is keep trying. My mother died in 1995. She really loved the holiday season and that first Christmas was very hard and awkward without her. We did what we could to make it normal but it wasn't and we had to accept that. We still do some things differently and her absence is still felt, but with time it has become less sad and more normal. Don't beat yourself up if today is a struggle to do anything. Just try again tomorrow. That's all you can do is keep trying. It will get better.

  6. Nightingale // December 2, 2010 at 10:10 AM  

    Amy, it must have been both a heart-rending exercise as well as a catharasis writing your essay. Thank you for joining us at the PFS.

  7. Amy Munnell // December 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM  

    @Nightingale—it was! And I never expected to publish it. I wrote it just for me, but the writer in me needed to be read so I gave it a good friend of mine who is also my reader. She really liked it. So then I was a critique group at that time and someone else read a story that was based on something in his personal life so I bought it to read soon after. They were all very encouraging and it just snowballed after that. I submitted it for evaluation at a conference and that person really encouraged me to seek publication. And here I am! Though I admit it feels weird to see the essay in a book. :-)

  8. Anonymous // December 2, 2010 at 11:12 AM  

    So happy to see Amy's Essay in Saying Goodbye. She has been my friend and writing partner for years and I am delighted to see her talent showcased. Loved the essay and look forward to more! Sheila Hudson

  9. Mary Marvella // December 2, 2010 at 1:22 PM  

    Good afternoon, Amy! Welcome, Sheila! I lost both parents more than 10 years ago. Both died around Thanksgiving, a year apart, and I still become emotional about stupid stuff around that time. Once I realize why I am tender, I can manage my emotions.

    It helps to remember I am not alone. Some one on another loop mentioned Vitamin D for Winter blahs. Must get more! I am soooooo not a Winter person.

  10. Edie Ramer // December 2, 2010 at 2:59 PM  

    Amy, I still think of my sister and mother. I feel them with me often. A tree planted in her ashes is a great way to remember your sister.

  11. Amy Munnell // December 2, 2010 at 3:40 PM  

    @Mary--Yes, vitamin D is good for the winter blahs.
    One thing about the book is not all the stories are about death. "Saying Goodbye to a Faithful Companion" is about the disappearance of a jogging suit and "Dummy Dora" shows the funeral of a pacifier. So there is some light-heartedness here.

  12. Merry ME // December 2, 2010 at 5:12 PM  

    "here I am! Though I admit it feels weird to see the essay in a book. :-)"

    Hi Amy,
    I feel exactly the same way. I pick up Saying Goodbye, hold it in my hand, rub my fingers over the cover and think, "wow" this is the real thing! The newness has worn off but being published is anything but ho hum.
    I'm honored and proud to share the pages with the other authors.

    Mary Ellington "Goodbye Upstairs"

  13. Amy Munnell // December 2, 2010 at 7:50 PM  

    @MerryME--Hello Bookmate!

    It is daunting to publish something so personal. I was concerned about my family's reaction but so far only one of my 8 siblings has asked for a book. Go figure!

    My writing partner Sheila Hudson has experienced family resistance with a couple of her projects. (Hey partner! Isn't this a fun blog site?)

    Have any of you experienced family issues or reactions to your work? Do you worry about it or have you ever not pursued publication of piece because of potential family fallout?

  14. Barbara Monajem // December 2, 2010 at 9:56 PM  

    Amy, lovely blog, and the book sounds amazing. And what a great picture you posted to go along with it. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Scarlet Pumpernickel // December 2, 2010 at 10:01 PM  

    Amy welcome to the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers, we are glad to have you visit.

  16. Amy Munnell // December 2, 2010 at 10:25 PM  

    Ladies--I have had a great time here today! Your comments have been sweet and kind. Even though I don't write romance, I love romance! And I do have a pair of pink fuzzy slippers. Honest!

    Thanks again and good night!

  17. Autumn Jordon // December 3, 2010 at 8:19 AM  

    Amy, Thank you for joining us today and sharing your heartfelt story. Saying Goodbye sounds like a book which might touch someone in my life deeply, and help them. Thank you for sharing. Have a blessed holiday.

  18. Joanne // December 3, 2010 at 4:15 PM  

    Thanks for stopping by our Pink Fuzzies blog, and a thank you to Mary M. for inviting you. Your book sounds like a keeper.