What we’re reading this month is a very personal, incredibly moving book by a local author and fellow mom, Rhonda Fincher. Rhonda has done one of the toughest things we can imagine — take the overwhelming pain of losing a child and somehow turn it into a beautiful book designed to help fellow parents going through the same tragedy.
Good Night Kendrick, I Love You is Rhonda’s journal through the painful months and years following her son Kendrick’s sudden death in 1995. Kendrick suffered a heat stroke during a football practice at junior high school in Rogers.
Below is our interview with the author as well as a review of the book by another local mom, Scarlett Daniels.
We know the book is filled with letters to your son that reveal the intense, personal pain you were dealing with following his sudden death. What led you to compile the letters into a memoir?
After Kendrick died I read many books about grief. Although they helped, I didn’t feel like they could relate to the depth of loss I felt. After I had been writing to Kendrick for about two years I realized that my letters to Kendrick shared the experience of grief in a personal way that I did not find in the books I read. It was then, 13 years ago, that I decided I would include the letters in a book.
Was it difficult to release your personal letters written to Kendrick to the world in a book?
Yes, it was difficult; however, I knew that in order to help others with their grief I had to keep the letters intact so the reader could feel the pain as well as the process through the grief. I started transcribing the journal almost five years ago and it was almost like reliving the grief. So, yes, it was difficult and took a very long time because I had to work through the grief again as I was getting it ready to publish.
What was missing in other books about grief that you hope readers will find in your book?
The pain of losing a child is almost a physical pain and it disrupts your entire life. Most of the books I read were written by parents that had already worked through some of their grief and others were written by people that had not lost a child. In the books I read I did not sense the depth of loss I was feeling. I thought I might be having a harder time or less able to cope than other parents. What I came to learn is that I was not alone and that is the hope that I want to share with readers: grief is hard, grief is painful, but if you continue to fill your life with pockets of joy, you will work through your grief.
What kinds of responses have you received from fellow parents?
“Thank you for writing this.” I had five parents who had lost children review the manuscript before I had the book published. I wanted to make sure the book would really be helpful. I did not want to publish my personal letters unless they would truly help grieving parents.
Book review by Scarlett Daniels, local mom of 2
As a parent, the most devastating thing you can experience is losing a child. For 18 days Rhonda sat over her son praying and hoping. In this book, Rhonda opens up her heart and journal to us. We travel with her through her journey of this shattering loss. Through her words we’re able to feel the raw, transparent emotions of hope, hurt, confusion, sadness, deep love for a son and eventual healing.
This book is not your typical self-help clinical style grief/bereavement resource. It’s one woman’s process of losing a child and finding a way to pick up the pieces and continue living. This book will definitely touch your heart!
In honor of Kendrick, Rhonda has dedicated her life to educating others about the importance of proper hydration and the 100% prevention of heat related illnesses.
For more information on Rhonda Fincher and her family, visit the Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation’s website. The organization’s mission is to help educate parents and coaches on the dangers of heat illness and how to prevent it from happening through proper hydration. We’ll have more information from Rhonda on heat awareness and hydration next week as well as advice on the top 3 things all parents need to know to help prevent their kids from suffering a heat illness and/or stroke.
Click here to visit the Barnes & Noble website to order this book.