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An Adventure in Grief by Catherine De Courcy
  

An Adventure in Grief

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Synopsis

An Adventure in Grief by Catherine De Courcy

AN ADVENTURE IN GRIEF: THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF FOLLOWING HER HUSBAND'S SUICIDE. 'I was making dinner when John went out to the barn to shoot himself'. John Johnson was a Vietnam veteran devoured by post-traumatic stress. Eventually he found it impossible to go on living. Following his violent suicide his wife Catherine was faced with an overwhelming grief. Having bravely attempted to battle grief before after the death of her much-loved brother, this time Catherine decided she was going to take it on headfirst. Giving herself a two-year period to deal with the incredible and traumatic effects of her beloved's death she deliberately faced up to grief and allowed it to run its course. Using a variety of therapies, alternative healing, lots of old movies and a sacrosanct permission to deeply feel everything she was undergoing she fought her way through the darkest spell of her life and safely out the other side. Catherine and John had been together for fifteen years when John, suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the effects of his time fighting during the Vietnam War, took his own life. John was a larger-than-life figure, an English runaway from a brutal childhood of poverty and alcoholism and an Australian Army Officer. John and Catherine were living in the wilds of the Australian Outback when the suicide took place. After this heartbreaking event Catherine was faced with overwhelming grief and left emotionally battered. Having dodged grief once before, she chose to confront her anguish and everything it threw at her, head on. Using tools such as good food, healing therapies and professional counsellors Catherine treated recovery as a tough adventure which brought her into the depths of sadness and loneliness. In time the darkness and despair turned to light as she came to experience extraordinary peace of mind and the joys of living despite the cruel death of the man she loved. Unflinchingly honest and without self-pity, Catherine looks at the hidden aspects of grief and how to manage the strange and unsettling challenges the loss of a loved one provokes. She also portrays with sympathy and candour the devastating impact of post-traumatic stress on a Vietnam veteran long after the war. This is a deeply moving and inspiring story of one person's journey through grief. This powerful memoir and unflinchingly frank account of the process of recovery through grief is both inspiring and enlightening. The book also examines in detail John's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the horrific manifestations of it at the heart of his decision to end his own life, and how his wife managed to come through the darkest time possible and re-emerge into the world stronger than ever.

Reviews

'The story of [Catherine's] adventure in grief is inspiring in its honesty, determination and most of all its deep love and acceptance of the man she married - and lost'
The Irish Times

About the Author

Catherine de Courcy grew up in Dublin and graduated in history from UCD in 1979. She became a professional librarian and worked in libraries in Ireland, Papua New Guinea and Australia. She travelled the Australian outback with her husband, John, and wrote several guide books. When working in the library of the National Gallery of Ireland in the early 1980s, Catherine began a project to archive and document the early history of the Gallery. Contributing to the Gallery's active publishing programme at the time convinced her that writing was something she was keen to pursue. In 1985, her book Foundation of the National Gallery of Ireland was published and that same year another project, also commissioned by the Gallery was issued, Fifty views of Ireland. In 1985 she travelled to Papua New Guinea and worked in the University of Papua New Guinea Library, working on the special New Guinea library collection. In 1987 she moved to Australia where she continued to work in the library profession in the National Gallery library, a College library and then the State Library in Melbourne. Catherine continued writing throughout her time in Australia, publishing a range of travel books. In the nineties she became involved in writing about zoos and published Zoos of Australia (commissioned by the Australia Post) , The Zoo Story: The Animals, The History, The People (Penguin) and Zoological Gardens of Australia (commissioned by CRC Press for an international history of zoos). She developed a reputation as one of the foremost experts on Australian zoological history and continued to publish in that area over the next decade. Her passion for these subjects, Zoological History and the Australian Outback, became a way for Catherine to further integrate herself into her new homeland and the country and familiarize herself with the incredible landscapes she was surrounded by. Catherine met her husband John, a Vietnam War Veteran, in 1986 and together they wrote Australian travel guides including Desert Tracks: Exploring Australia's Deserts by Car and River Tracks: Exploring Australia's Rivers by Car. In 2000 Catherine's husband John, who had been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for many years following the Vietnam War, took his own life and life as she knew it stopped entirely for her. However, faced with this overwhelming grief Catherine took on the greatest challenge of her life, to face this tragedy head on and come through it and out the other side. Eventually she arrived at a deeper sense of self, which has reinforced the joys of living despite the tragic death of the man she loved. After leaving the library profession in 2003, several years after John's death, Catherine returned to Ireland. Here research and writing became the focus of her professional life and she now writes full-time. Catherine is currently writing a history of Dublin Zoo, scheduled for publication in September 2009 by The Collins Press.

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Book Info

Publication date

31st January 2009

Author

Catherine De Courcy

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Publisher

The Collins Press

Format

Paperback
200 pages

Categories

Coping with death & bereavement

ISBN

9781905172870

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