Kim Kluxen Meredith has written the book she needed to read 17 years ago.
That was when her husband, 44-year-old Lancaster attorney David Kluxen, died following a car accident and she was left a widow with two young children.
"I would go to bookstores and stand in the Death and Dying section," scanning the shelves, she recalled.
Yet she never found a book that addressed someone her age, or told her what to do with her grieving children, she said.
"I just couldn't find anything light yet practical."
The Hempfield High School Spanish teacher is now sharing her personal experience -- along with her insight into how to go forward after a loved one's loss -- in an inspirational self-help book, "Listen for the Whispers: Coping With Grief & Learning to Live Again," from Cable Publishing.
In an interview last week, Meredith said she started writing down her thoughts shortly after her tragic loss.
It was a way to "feel better but not alarm the kids," as sharing her pain, loneliness, fear and self-doubt with them might have done.
After a year, she looked back at what she had written and saw "the gift I'd been given" by way of a heartbreaking experience. Her impulse was to share it, to let others know what she had realized about being a "true survivor" who mends the hole ripped in heart and soul with fond memories, warm feelings and acceptance.
One key realization was that she needed to "listen to the whispers," Meredith term for "the messages that I believe God has given me," which others might regard as the voice within, a feeling, an instinct.
She set her writing aside for 10 years until her daughter encouraged her to pursue publication. That was a seven-year process, as she was determined to avoid self-publishing. "I wanted to be an authentic author," she said.
Then Cable, the small Wisconsin-based publisher of local authors Del Staecker and Jim Zervanos, accepted her manuscript and gave her valuable guidance for expanding it, she said.
• The largest part of the 175-page book is intensely personal and detailed. "My Story" is divided into four parts that cover such things as the accident and hospital experience, breaking the news to the children, arranging the funeral, venturing into a support group, clearing out the closet, coping with finances and household emergencies and dating again. (She married Thomas W. Meredith Jr. in 2004, after being set up on a blind date by her daughter and future son-in-law.)
Most affecting is a short chapter relating how her first husband's wedding band was transformed into two rings for her children, and what they chose to have engraved on them.
The second part of the book focuses on practical ways to cope with grief. "Lifeline suggestions" range from "Get caller ID and screen your calls. Unscrupulous sales people read obituaries and can invade your personal space" to "Catch some old episodes of 'The Three Stooges.' "
The third section of the book is the do-it-yourself portion: room for journaling inspired by quotations such as this one from Johann Wolgang von Goethe: "Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live."
The author will be featured at an open meeting of the ZEST group at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Zion Lutheran Church, East Petersburg. Her book is available in both paperback, $16.95, and hardcover, $23.95. For more information, visit kimkluxenmeredith.com.
Jo-Ann Greene is books editor of the Sunday News. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.