By Nadia Maria Smith
CS&T Staff Writer
“When Every Day Matters,” the new book by local Catholic author Mary Jane Hurley Brant, will bring comfort to anyone experiencing the death of a loved one.
Hurley Brant, a psychotherapist and a parishioner of St. Thomas of Villanova Parish in Villanova, opens her heart to reveal her own grieving process – she lost her 28-year-old daughter Katie – as a way to help others.
“They can come through a deep loss and they will survive their loss, but they must process their loss,” Hurley Brant said. “There is a great denial about loss in our society particularly the loss of a loved one, so nobody knows how to go through it and grieve it. ‘When Every Day Matters’ shows you how to go through it.”
She admits that she made many mistakes dealing with her daughter’s death nine years ago — mistakes she hopes to help others avoid.
It took Hurley Brant nearly a decade to complete the book, which started out as personal letters to Katie after her death. In the book she speaks about the unspeakable – the tremendous pain, uncertainty and loss of desire to live, but she also reaches deep to reveal that through each tragedy there is an opportunity for a renewed life filled with grace, compassion, wisdom and choice. It’s life in which every day matters, she noted.
Hurley Brant also gives insights into how to support someone grieving and explains why certain words or actions do not bring comfort.
For example, she shares how devastating it is to a grieving family when friends stop talking about the beloved child in an effort to lessen the pain. Instead, Hurley Brant outlines how families can learn to speak the unspeakable to each other and to honor the inspanidual grieving process of each family member.
“M.J. teaches us how to approach, comfort and reassure those families that their child is not forgotten,” said Sarah Ban Breathnach, the author of the bestselling book “Simple Abundance” and publisher of Hurley Brant’s book through Simple Abundance Press. “Her book is a gift of grace. For those who are hurting, a spiritual blessing awaits in between every line. There’s solace and genuine wisdom here.”
Hurley Brant also continues to honor the memory of her daughter Katie, who is described in the book as a formidable, courageous and wise young woman who lived with a brain tumor for 10 years.
In her book, Hurley Brant recalls Katie’s letter in which she realized her true calling five years after being diagnosed and surviving her first brain surgery.
Katie wrote, “Today I thought about all of the children I have met over the years. I thought about their scars, their baldness, their fragility, their families and all of their bravery…. Without a shadow of a doubt I know why I survived,” she said in a letter to her parents while she was taking time to regroup and pray in Paris. “I need to see this new foundation happen… I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life. When I was first diagnosed, I bargained with God. I said that if He let me keep (my life) I would not waste it. I would make a difference.”
She did exactly that by leaving behind a foundation, Katie’s Kids for the Cure, which has raised $800,000 toward finding a cure of pediatric brain tumors – the leading cause of cancer death in children under the age of 20. Brain tumors are also the third leading cause of cancer death in young adults ages 20-39.
Hurley Brant will be donating a portion of the proceeds from her book to the foundation.
It is Hurley Brant’s hope that the book will “make the reader feel less alone, help them identify and validate their feelings and help the reader find the light of peace and deepen their faith in the process so that they do not despair.”
For more information or to purchase the book, visit www.WhenEveryDayMatters.com.
CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 965-4614.