Sharon Prentice is the author of the book Becoming Starlight: Surviving Grief and Mending the Wounds of Loss. A memoir, it focuses on the aftermath of the deaths of her daughter and husband. She is a psychotherapist and spiritual counselor.
Q: You’ve experienced devastating losses in your life. How difficult was it to write about them in the book?
A: Writing Becoming Starlight was truly a labor of love for me but was, at the same time, one of the most tremendously difficult tasks I have ever assigned myself! When I decided to write this book, I mistakenly thought I would be able to put all emotion aside and just write. Just pick up my computer and start writing.
I found out very quickly that my thought process was completely and utterly flawed. Not only did I find it almost impossible to start writing but once I did get started, I soon found that finishing the book in its entirety was going to be almost as difficult.
Having to recount the most horrendous events in my life, having to actually put them down on paper, having to relive each and every thought, emotion and moment of those extremely life altering events-well, let’s just say Becoming Starlight almost didn’t “become.”
Here’s what I found…writing this book became my very own daily dose of therapy. In my practice, I tell all my patients to journal because there’s something about writing it down that gets it out of the Soul. Issues that remain hidden away from the sunlight become dark and dank so putting it all out there where the light can get at it dispels the darkness.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Sure does, but the reality is quite different. It isn’t easy to pull those memories out of Spirit, those memories that are marked with “Danger: Do not open.” And that is exactly what I did to myself when I took on this project.
I had to open up those “Danger: Do not open” portals and I was even surprised at myself for being so fearful to actually get in there and rip them open. The guards at the gates of these portals are fearsome indeed and getting past them took so much strength and, to be quite honest, took courage that I didn’t even know I possessed.
Writing this book, telling this story, meant reliving the deaths of two people I carry within my Soul always and that was one of the most difficult tasks I have ever encountered in my life.
Q: How was the book’s title chosen? What does it signify to you?
A: The title “Becoming Starlight” will always be the only title ever considered for my book. Why? Because that is exactly what happened. I didn’t need to search or agonize or go looking anywhere else for the title and I wouldn’t listen to or consider any other title that was presented to me.
Why? Because, once again, I had to be true to the story. I wrote Becoming Starlight for a purpose—to tell a story of a complete fall from grace, a total and utter loss of faith, a human condition that involved agonizing grief and despair and a need for revenge against life itself and the eventual renewal and life-affirming peace that came within a blessing from Creation itself.
As the stars came to “collect” me at the moment of my husband’s death, I found myself becoming part of all Creation…as starlight… within the very presence of God.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
A: There really is only one empowering lesson in Becoming Starlight, but that lesson is multi-faceted. It involves accepting something that none of us want to accept: that life and death go hand in hand.
It involves acceptance, surrender, faith, hope and an understanding of those things that at all of us seek to understand but never fully do except from the standpoint of belief in the fact that we are never alone; that we are never separated from the all-loving and all-consuming mercy of the One Who formed us from His very thoughts; that we are all connected, one to the other, by the mere fact that we exist in this universe; and that above all else, nothing you could ever do could separate you from the love of God.
And while we may laugh or cry or shout or rage at the heavens, it matters not how far into the muck you have face planted, you can rise and thrive. Going “through it all” instead of “rising above it” leads you to your victory or at least to a peace that can be life affirming.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: So much! To be truthful, way too much! Becoming Starlight is being made into a screenplay and I am very involved in that process (when I’m not hiding away from the fear of so much exposure).
I am also waist-deep into my next book about the concept (possibly myth) of “closure.” What psychologists refer to as “closure” and what those of us who search for it think it is are two totally different things altogether.
The question is “Does closure actually exist? Or, by definition, is searching for closure (myth or truth) something that actually keeps us grounded in the very thing we seek to heal?” It’s going to be interesting to see exactly how much my psychology colleagues beat me up over this one. I’m somewhat of a rebel here, with a cause!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I’m constantly lecturing my patients about being true to themselves. So many go about their daily lives only existing, never knowing how to truly live out their amazing potential and realize their dreams.
They tell me my words echo in their brains all day, the words rummage around in there and bump into the labels that have been slapped on them by well-meaning and not so well-meaning friends and family.
“Rip them off, those labels that have been plastered on your Soul”…”Rip them off…and then come out and play” can be heard almost every day in my office.
I am relentless about this and every single day I only ask one thing of those around me: Be real. Be honest. Be open. Be true to yourself, then you will be true to me. Learn to go beyond merely existing.
Learn to live!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb