Choosing Hope, Finding Joy is a true story of a family's account of trauma and resilience as one mom fights to help her family survive, thrive and even flourish after repeated significant losses. It is the story of Sheri McGuinness and her children as they found themselves on a journey to heal the wounds of horrible losses that devastated their lives, and what helped them to find their way out of the wreckage in the face of overwhelming circumstances.
Her inspiring first book, Choosing Hope, Finding Joy, chronicles the journey navigating through her own childhood and adult traumas, a suicide, losing her child, and recognizing the impact that they each had on her life. This compelling book shines a light on the toll of grief, trauma and loss, and how even the strongest of people sometimes need support to overcome the fallout. It is a story that will make you cry, warm your heart and give you hope.
FROM THE AUTHOR:
Somewhere along the way, my mind had decided that there was a direct link between recovery and purpose, so I continued to search for what that could possibly be. Day after day, I sat in faith that it would be revealed to me if I just hung on. But Bobby's death had been so senseless that I just couldn't find a purpose, because there was none to be drawn - or so I thought.
I had found my way to therapy, and I knew that was a big step. But it certainly wasn't an instant fix. As a matter of fact, I was in such pain those first months and that first year, I couldn't imagine help or relief arriving soon enough.
I thought many times about dying. I never had a plan, but if a car had run me over or if I just didn't wake up it would have been okay. The hole I was in was so big and so dark that I couldn't see many possibilities.
I felt such guilt. I didn't want to leave my other kids, but Bobby's death was so immense that it consumed my thinking. I couldn't see anything else; I couldn't seem to get perspective. I am a smart woman but I couldn't sort this out. I didn't see an end to this pain - ever. And it was greater and darker than any pain I had ever felt.
Starting therapy didn't mean that all of a sudden all was right with the world, but it was a huge step. Just having a safe place to cry for an hour was a good start, and then slowly becoming an active partner in my grief and recovery.
I began to see that although I did know a lot about grief, trauma was another story. And I really needed to understand how it was manifesting in my life. Therapy was helping me see the bigger picture, and begin to recognize it.
One of the greatest things that losing Joe had taught me was to trust the path. We certainly need to call on our wisdom to make decisions in life, but when circumstances put us in a position where wisdom is challenged, sometimes we just have to trust.
My sanity clung to my confidence, determined that no matter what, we were going to be okay. And that confidence didn't let me down. It actually fortified my resilience and kept me going. I think they call it "blind faith." And it was all I had to hold on to.
Looking back, I can see that without really even acknowledging it, somewhere along this journey I chose hope. Even though I couldn't see it, maybe didn't even want it, I chose hope - and I continue to choose hope.
We aren’t a nation that honors grief. We are quick to think that we need to be over it. In reality, grief is a healing process, it never leaves us – it just transforms into something we can live with. ~Sheri
With honesty and courage, Sheri McGuinness invites us into some of the most difficult years of her life and allows us to walk with her as she relives both her excruciating losses and her brave journey to healing.The simplicity of Sheri’s style of writing serves her challenging topics well; it undercuts the terrible tragedy of her traumas with everyday details and emotions that remind us that we, too, might have walked in her shoes. The value of this book, however, shines in Sheri’s decisions not to give up and her clear descriptions of what helped her keep going. Chock full of resources and information about how to locate them, Sheri’s story reminds us of the resiliency of the human spirit and the important role of personal and professional support in helping us make our way though life’s dark times. This book also reinforces the power that comes from finding the words to tell one’s story and demonstrates that while we may not have a choice in the way our life story unfolds, we do have the ability to write our own ending.
~Maureen Underwood, LCSW, Trainer/Program Author, Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
Choosing Hope, Finding Joy is an intimate and powerful story about the resilience of the human spirit. This true story of loss and trauma is a page-turner. It is authentically shared to assist others reclaim balance and peace in their own lives. I read it in one sitting and recommend the inspiring words of Sheri McGuinness to be a model for reclaiming joy after the heartbreak of multiple life tragedies. It gives hope to the reader that meaning and purpose can be forged from devastating loss. It reminds us that there is in each of us that same indomitable essence that encourages us to choose hope, and to find joy.
~Iris Bolton, Director Emeritus, Link Counseling Center and NRC Author of My Son, My Son and Voices of Hope and Healing
Choosing Hope, Finding Joy is Sheri McGuinness’s true account of the traumatic losses she has experienced in her life and how she lived through the agony of those losses and eventually learned to reclaim her sense of hope, meaning, purpose, and joy. Her poignant story is so beautifully and honestly told—sincerely from the heart. McGuinness is powerfully adept at describing her experiences in such a way that the reader feels the agony and sorrow of her losses; yet, at the same time, her sure and soothing voice weaves a message of reassuring hope throughout. McGuinness’s courage in sharing her vulnerability is a testament to the healing work she has done—and continues to do—and which she so lovingly shares with those whose healing journeys have only just begun. Choosing Hope, Finding Joy is truly a gift to the community of people who need to know that, indeed, there is hope and joy to be found even in the aftermath of tragic loss.
~Pegge L. Riley, LPC, CPCS, Director, Sage Center Atlanta
Sheri McGuinness: Author, Consultant, Trainer, Facilitator and
Survivor Services Specialist Her inspiring new book, Choosing
Hope, Finding Joy, chronicles her journey navigating through a
life filled with trauma, and beating the odds: surviving, thriving
and even flourishing on the other side.
Sheri is a survivor of suicide having lost Joe, her husband of 23
years to suicide in 1999. Her own loss and the painful journey that
followed led her become a key figure in suicide prevention,
intervention and aftercare in Georgia.
In January 2014, another tragedy struck her and her family, as she lost her precious 27 year old son Bobby in a motorcycle accident. The grief that ensued threw her over the limits of how much a human could bear. The traumas of the past combined with this new unfathomable loss sent her on a new path to find her way out of a black hole so deep there was no glimpse of light.
Writing was the gift that helped lead her out of the darkness, giving her a voice for the pain, struggle and finally a glimpse that joy could return.
She is an inspirational speaker and presenter, and has spent 35 years writing in the business arena. Sheri has experience in business, project/personnel/data management, administration, program content development, non-profit management and marketing.
She joined SPAN-GA, Suicide Prevention Action Network, Georgia where she was asked to take a leadership role as President/CEO in 2005. Since then, she has led SPAN-GA as they have delivered the voices of the grassroots constituents to the legislators each year, working with the state office for Suicide Prevention she has supported survivors and the suicide prevention community creating education, awareness, resources and support statewide.
Some of her specific work history includes:
As a Survivor Services Specialist (SSS), she has developed and currently leads the Survivor of Suicide Support Project for the state of Georgia. This program trains interested people from around the state to provide support group services and home visit teams for survivors of a suicide loss in their area.
Developing, launching and continually growing Camp SOS, a family camp for Survivors of a Suicide Loss, and is in the planning stage for their 5th year, 2016. Ms. McGuinness developed this peer-to-peer model, and it is featured in the academic book, The Handbook of Child and Adolescent Group Therapy in the Grief and Loss Chapter which she co-authored.
She created and maintains the statewide website for suicide prevention, intervention and aftercare: GSPIN.org as well as the GSPIN Broadcast Network through grants from DBHDD’s Suicide Prevention Program.
Partnering with NAMI GA, Sheri wrote and often delivers the suicide prevention, intervention, aftercare and self-care program for Law Enforcement throughout the state of Georgia. This program is used nationwide.
She has provided technical support for the development of suicide prevention coalitions around the state, that have taken many forms including a statewide College and University suicide prevention coalition.
She has played a key leadership role in the suicide prevention community creating education, awareness, resources and support statewide.
Through her consulting firm, Mending Hearts Consulting, Ms. McGuinness is guiding, advising, and training individuals, organizing, communities in developing strategies to support families and individuals that are dealing with loss, grief and trauma.
She has a dedicated, unyielding spirit with a heart for serving her fellow survivors and those at risk throughout Georgia and nationwide. She currently resides in Woodstock, Georgia where she enjoys time with her children and grand-daughter.
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