Today I am pleased to welcome author Eleanor Bertin to Interviews & Reviews. Eleanor is the author of Lifelines and her latest book Pall of Silence, which is about the untimely death of her son. This book also came in second for I & R's book of the month. After reading it myself, I wanted everyone to know about this amazing book because I know it will strike a chord with many Christian parents who are either struggling with the death of a child, or their child's decision to walk away from God. This is a book that will make an impact on your life and Eleanor has agreed to give away a copy to one lucky reader.
Eleanor, welcome to Interviews & Reviews!
You have experienced something no mother ever wants to experience - the loss of a child. What prompted you to write about such a heartbreaking loss?
The simple answer, Laura, is that I’m a writer and I process my swirling thoughts by tying them down to the written word. Early on, I had strong urges to write everything down lest I forget. But when I tried, I found I couldn’t get past the first page. What urged me forward, as time went on, was the niggling feeling that I couldn’t possibly be the only mother who had the thoughts and questions I had in the situation. I had seen many biographies of young people who died tragically, but it seemed they were invariably exemplary youth with a powerful testimony. So when I wrote, I had in mind the parents who grieved without hope, the mothers and fathers with grave questions about their son or daughter’s troubled life, the moms with guilt and shame and blame crowding out grief.
I think that is what struck me the most about you Eleanor - your unselfish, caring attitude in sharing something so personal in the hopes that it might help someone else. How did your family react when you told them you were going to write about Paul?
That’s been an interesting thing. For a couple of years, I felt hampered in writing because this was a story intimately entangled with my family, who might have objections to being in the public eye that way, and who might see Paul’s life and the events preceding his death from a different perspective to mine. A couple of writer friends advised me to “just write your story” and that was the impetus I needed to get writing. I asked my husband and each of my children to read it early on, wanting to give them the opportunity to edit out things they felt were too personal. Strangely, while several started reading, only two of them read the whole thing, but no one objected to publishing it. I think it’s just too raw and painful to revisit some of those events. I hope I made it clear that the memoir is my story, written as truthfully as I knew how, but from my unique perspective.
When something like this happens either through accident or illness, the loss of a child is devastating for parents. What helped you the most through that difficult season of your life? How were you able to continue trusting God and not be angry with Him?
You’ve asked three questions: what helped the most, how did you keep trusting God, and how were you not angry with Him?
The answer to each question is the same. When I give these answers, understand that in the cracks and between the lines there’s a boatload of gushing emotions, normal human anguish and railing questions. But years of God’s Word poured into my (our) heart's kept washing over my mind and soul with these objective, stabilizing truths:
There is but one God who as earth’s King, has the sovereign right to govern the world and everyone in it. He is not required to answer to me.
All that He does is always, only for my good and His glory and He is my only help and refuge in tragedy.
I owe an unpayable debt to the Lord Jesus Christ for proving these truths by His very life-blood. On top of that great love, He provided me with great teaching through the years and precious family and friends who faithfully pointed me back to Him again and again.
Thank you for your honesty. What is your favourite Scripture verse?
I find it so hard to answer about a favourite Scripture verse. Most often, it’s whatever I’m studying at the moment! But there are some that really resonate in a lasting way with me for their declaration of who God is.
Deut. 32:3,4 – “Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.”
And Psalm 73: 22-26
“I was so foolish and ignorant. I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You. You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail. But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
These are two great verses that speak so clearly about who you are as a person and where you are spiritually, something that stood out in your book. What's next for you? Any new books in the works?
I’m hard at work on novel #3, Tethered, while prepping novel #2, Unbound, for publication this September. These two follow Lifelines, and while they each stand alone, there’s a carryover of setting, characters, and to some degree, themes.
You sound very busy. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Eleanor. And now dear Readers, if you are interested in receiving a copy of Eleanor's book fill out the form below. This giveaway is now open to everyone! With print copies to Canadian winners only and ebooks for everyone else.
Congratulations to Candy Dyck.