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Emotional Memoir Traces a Mother's Journey Through Grief, Garlic and Gratitude

LEICESTER, Vt., Sept. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Over 70,000 Americans die each year from drug overdoses, leaving pain and grief in their wake. Knowing that, if it were to happen to you, can conscious and deliberate gratitude and connection to nature help you find joy and hope again when your life has been shattered? This is the exact pain that author Kris Francoeur was faced with bearing, and how Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude: Returning to Hope and Joy from a Shattered Life—Sam's Love Story (Morgan James Publishing, ISBN 9781642791815) found its vessel in her.

When Sam Francoeur tragically died on Oct. 9, 2013 from an accidental drug overdose, everyone he loved was irrevocably changed. This heart-wrenching story recounts his mother Kris Francoeur's journey through grief from the first Facebook posts announcing his death through the next 30 months as she struggled to keep hold of her waning sanity in her bottomless grief while trying to support the rest of her family and continue with her professional life.

At times raw and uncomfortable to read, Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude is a brutally honest first-hand account of the pain of losing a truly special child. It speaks to the potent power that the conscious practice of expressing gratitude, unconditional acceptance of others, and keeping a very active connection with nature helped bring light and joy back into Kris's life. Her story has given hope to grieving families. These families now feel that hope and joy will return, no matter how devastating and how permanent the loss. While Kris will grieve forever, Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude shows readers they can find light and joy again—no matter how great the darkness.

"My life is divided into two parts by a glaringly clear line," said Francoeur. "The first part was anything before October 9, 2013, and the other, everything after. This book is about the after. This is my story—not yours, or that of anyone in my family. Originally, I thought this would be Sam's story, but truly it isn't. Sam would have needed to tell his own story, and unfortunately, he won't ever be able to do that. This is my story of who Sam was/is for me, and my story of loving him, losing him, and my journey forward. It is the story of Sam's love, hence the subtitle of the book."

This is also the story of the more powerful use of social media as a platform in Kris Francoeur's life. While she used Facebook a bit prior to her loss, it somehow became a major means of communication after. Francoeur never intended to write posts for other people. As she struggled, she wrote for herself but needed to validate it somehow by posting online. This acted as both a release valve and a salvo for her burgeoning grief.

While grief is somewhat universal, from Francoeur's point of view, losing a child is a different kind of loss from any other. "No matter how much you love your parents, your spouse, your dog, you understand that there is a possibility that person or animal will pass before you—it is the order of the universe. In my opinion, and from having talked with many people who have experienced the death of a child or a spouse, it is my strong belief that the death of a child is a completely different sort of loss. Having said that, this is a book about how I've dealt with my loss, but I feel that both self-awareness and gratitude can help us in any sort of situation."

The book makes crystal clear that Sam Francoeur was a distinctly unique and unarguably special young man. His love of everyone he encountered and his acceptance of human differences made him stand out even as he suffered from crippling mental health issues and substance abuse. His impact on others was so strong that his mother felt compelled to share the story with others, carrying forth his message for the world, what her family refers to as the "Do a Sam" message -- that of loving unconditionally, laughing, listening and being connected to nature.

The reviews for this book are exceedingly strong. "This book is a mother's heartfelt account of her struggle after losing her son," said Stephen Lefer, M.D., Professor of Emergency Medicine UVM College of Medicine. "Sadly, parents across the country are dealing with this same devastating loss every single day. It is time as a nation to fully focus on preventing opioid addiction to the full extent possible and treating people with addiction with compassion and comprehensive therapy to stop the loss of our loved ones and avoid every parent's worst nightmare."

Another advance reader wrote, "I thought it would be too painful for me to read this book," said Dr. Johana Kashiwa Brakeley, M.D., F.A.A.P., Pediatrician "It was painful, but not too painful. The balance of personal perspective, brutal honesty (including alerts to tirades and snarky comments), and lovely, happy times mixed among the unbearable grief kept me going. I wanted and needed to know how the author and family managed. For me, the highlights were the chronicles of how accepting, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and 'bigger than life' Sam was. His passion for music, lyrics and theater are infectious. It was heart-warming and impressive to learn about all the people who emerged as supports and friends to bolster his family. The author's advice to parents who complain about their children's various foibles should be seriously taken to heart. I can now admit to why I kept every painting, story, spelling and writing assignment etc. that our children produced when they were young. One never knows.... Sharing and spreading love is perhaps the greatest lesson. Love changes and matures, but in the end, it endures."

Francoeur originally wrote the book in hopes that someone else might be helped by the ideas of conscious and deliberate expression of gratitude, deep connection with nature, and loving those around us as a means of healing from difficult life circumstances. But as time went on, she thought a lot about the fact that in her life as a professional writer, she writes romance novels — the happily-ever-after stories. In her personal life, there isn't a true happily-ever-after; there is finding-joy-where-and-when-you-can. Now, as the book is completed, she realizes that the "why" is that she feels it is her responsibility to be one of the many faces of the impact of opioid addiction, while also pushing herself and those around her to find joy where they can, and to love as fiercely and openly as possible.

"Kris Francoeur's book is both heart-breaking and inspirational — heartbreaking because of the loss it recounts with such loving care, and inspiring because of the radical honesty with which the story is told," said David Moats, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism.

"This book kept me in its grip from the beginning," added Tom Duta, #1 International Bestselling Author of The Way of the Quiet WarriorTM, Founder and CEO of KRE-AT. "Beautifully written, it took me through the roller-coaster emotions of the loss of a child: denial, anger, acceptance, love, joy and more. Creatively written as a daily, weekly, monthly, annual personal journal, I found it hard to put down, waiting for the story to keep unfolding. Author Francoeur's son Sam died accidentally from a drug overdose; however, the author's courage to tell this story gives us an awareness of the mental health and life challenges of a young man who lived and loved people relentlessly. This book is a gift."

Francoeur wrote this book to recognize and spread the role of conscious gratitude, connecting with nature, and loving unconditionally. "Now, as you think about my journey, I hope you can take time to deliberately recognize the people and things you are thankful for each and every day, and let them know about it," wrote Francoeur. "Second, I hope that you will find a way to help yourself through growing something or taking care of the Earth and nature in some way. Finally, I ask you to think about the people in your lives. We all have people that are really easy to love, and it's easy to show that love to them. We all also have people that rub us the wrong way, or those we may shy away from due to our implicit bias. Don't. Find a way to connect. Maybe at first it's just making eye contact in the grocery store, or holding the door for someone. Maybe later it's stopping to say hello to "the weird neighbor" while you're out walking. Start small, stay consistent, and see how you can connect with others."

Kris Francoeur is a Vermont resident, a writer and educator. A graduate of Middlebury College, Kris earned master's degrees in both Counseling Psychology (Union Institute of Vermont College) and Educational Leadership (Castleton University). Kris writes with authority about grief and moving forward in our hectic and stressful world. A published author of fiction, Kris has published three romance novels (More Than I Can Say, That One Small Omission and The Phone Call) with Solstice Publishing using her pen name Anna Belle Rose. All three of her novels are widely available through online retailers and bookstores, or on Kris's website. Kris lives in beautiful Addison County, Vermont with her husband and youngest son, a small herd of alpacas and sheep, and chickens. Kris loves to spend time with her family, garden and spin the alpaca fiber for yarn for knitting. Kris continues to write fiction, while also working on several non-fiction projects including a motivational journal for adolescents. Kris now also maintains a busy schedule of public appearances speaking on addiction, recovery, and finding hope and joy after a devastating loss.

Of Grief, Garlic, and Gratitude is available at better bookstores nationwide and at online retailers. Kris can be reached at her website: https://authorkfrancoeur.com

CONTACT INFORMATION: 

Bob Newman
(617) 952-1470
bob.newman@newmancom.com

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Author Kris Francoeur
Author Kris Francoeur

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