Transforming the Valley of Grief 

Author offers grief manual for men coping with loss

by Tracy McCarter Wednesday, October 21, 2009
When Tom Mason’s wife was diagnosed with liver cancer, he had only weeks to prepare for the coming waves of grief. After weeks of hospice care, a house packed with women bringing food and cleaning, planning for a funeral and burial and spending every possible moment with his family, Mason entered the valley of grief as a single man. He had lost forty pounds due to stress and anxiety. He was fearful and lonely, and he soon discovered that there was no real roadmap to guide him through the valley. The grief hit him like a tsunami.

Mason is the author of the new book Transforming the Valley of Grief: Men Finding Hope and Their Path Following the Loss of a Loved One, a resource designed specifically to meet the needs of grieving men. “When my wife died and the valley of grief was thrust upon me, I looked long and hard for books on grieving written from a Christian male perspective. I wanted to know what I, as a Christian man confronted—no, overwhelmed—by grief could expect as a process,” Tom recalls. “I found several excellent books about grief, but no real manual that would be like a trail for me to follow through the valley. So in writing this book, my aim is to help grieving men all I can by sharing what I believe to be common male experiences along the way, some of which I have not seen discussed by other authors.”

Transforming the Valley of Grief follows Mason’s own journey from the moment the tsunami of grief crashed into his life, through the peaceful, solitary moments meeting God in the wilderness, in the times where unexpected memories triggered flash floods of emotion and to the moment when the valley opened up and he was able to fully embrace his changed life. The book includes many specific, practical tips for both grieving men and those who love them and want to support them through the valley. Each chapter concludes with a “notes to self” section with positive suggestions for men to try at different points in their journey of grief and a “notes to others” section. At the back of the book there is a collection of discussion questions perfect for use in a grief support group.

This slim volume is the perfect gift for the friend or loved one who is coping with loss, and it is essential reading for anyone who wants to support a grieving man but doesn’t know what to do or say. Mason offers beautiful spiritual insights, often drawing from the comforting words of the psalmist. But perhaps more important are his detailed directions for surviving single life—everything from how to plan an effective mini-sabbatical and how to find your way as a “pre-married” in the church singles group to what you should do with the leftovers your wife would have made creative use of (toss them and forgive yourself). The loss of a loved one always brings change, and Mason helps readers think through the various decisions they will face as a result (i.e., Should I stay here or move away? Do I want to remarry someday?).

Mason shows readers that, though the journey of grief begins in the darkness of the valley, God will reveal new light, joy and purpose as you “do the work” of grieving and He transforms the valley. “There is hope, even if you can’t believe it right now! There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Mason says. “There is an end to your dark valley, and this book is about getting there and the various steps and stages along the way.”

Transforming the Valley of Grief by Thomas O. Mason
Xulon Press September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60791-616-1/131 pages/softcover/$14.99

0    submitted by Tracy McCarter
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