“Never Say Never”: Stories of Hope, Resilience and Working through Loss, is thirty-three stories about resilience and recovery in the face of excruciating loss. David Cooper and David Zarnett found writers who courageously described how they worked through the loss of a child, parent, partner, and, in some cases, their own health and sense of identity. Each recounted their strategies to bring some normalcy and meaning back to their lives. Cooper and Zarnett hope readers find inspiration and insights that might benefit their own struggles.
Cooper and Zarnett have highlighted ten crucial insights gleaned from the thirty-three stories they compiled. Perhaps these insights will help you as you develop your own toolbox of resources and strategies.
INSIGHT #1—RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE
The first, and perhaps most important, insight gained from these stories is that overcoming loss and bringing vibrancy back to one’s life is possible, no matter how devastating the loss. In some of the stories, readers will hear from parents who have lost a child to suicide and yet still found a way to make sense of such a tragedy and move forward in productive ways.
This should offer all of us a sense of real hope.
Tragedy, many writers found, did not have to be permanent. Instead resilience could take its place as a permanent attitude to build and carry throughout life. Our writers’ stories support the idea that although grief never leaves, happiness can return.
INSIGHT #2—RECOVERY TAKES ACTION: TIME ALONE DOESN’T HEAL
Many of the stories in the collection speak to the need to take charge of our own recovery journey. Facing grief and loss head on requires active participation.
INSIGHT #3—RECOVERY IS A HIGHLY INDIVIDUALIZED PROCESS
There is no single pathway to recovery, no single universal formula that will work for everyone.
INSIGHT #4—RECOVERY IS FUELED BY GRATITUDE
Writers stressed the fact that resilience and gratitude are closely linked.
INSIGHT #5—RECOVERY IS A DYNAMIC PROCESS WITH UPS AND DOWNS
Cooper and Zarnett learned from their contributors that the road to recovery is not straight. There may be many twists, turns and bumps in the road.
INSIGHT #6—RECOVERY REQUIRES HONESTY AND SELF-COMPASSION
Although it can be very difficult, recovery requires the capacity to be honest about what was lost and how that feels. Offering kindness and compassion to oneself is critically important.
INSIGHT #7—RECOVERY IS AIDED WHEN GRIEF CAN BE RE-DIRECTED INTO PRODUCTIVE & POSITIVE ENDEAVOURS
Many of the writers stressed that channeling their grief into something productive and positive helped move the recovery process forward.
INSIGHT #8—RECOVERY CAN BE A LAUGHING MATTER
Some who shared their personal stories in “Never Say Never” observed that humour and laughter helped them work through their loss. Humour allowed some to gain perspective and build their internal capacity for resilience.
INSIGHT #9—RECOVERY CAN BE BOLSTERED THROUGH FAITH
Some contributors indicated ways in which their faith was instrumental to the recovery process.
INSIGHT #10—RECOVERY IS A SOCIAL PROCESS
By sharing their stories, the writers have continued to build a community of support. Cooper and Zarnett have great respect for those who shared their stories in “Never Say Never.” Many of the writers are members of a community they never wanted to join. The editors are appreciative of every writer’s insight, honesty and humility. Their stories honour the strength needed when we fall apart and then begin the long process of rebuilding—even if the healing process means transforming from the root of one’s soul. The writers gathered in this book allowed themselves to be vulnerable; the editors recognize that vulnerability can be a measure of courage.
100% of the profits from the purchase of this book are directed to Eli’s Place. Learn more about our long-term, rural residential treatment and recovery-based program at Eli's Place - where recovery grows .
Reviews and Endorsements:
"Never Say Never, a compilation of deeply profound and authentic stories exploring meaning making and resilience, offers readers practical insights on healing and recovery following overwhelming loss. Cooper and Zarnett frame each story of loss, whether loss of a child, spouse or friend, physical health or self-identity, expected or sudden as an opportunity. They shed light on how to transform pain into purpose. Readers come away understanding that they are capable of finding meaning in the face of suffering, humour in the face of sorrow and joy in the face of sadness. Like twigs on a tree blown by the winds of our shared human experience, these powerful accounts of resilience demonstrate how we can be forced to “bend” but “do not break” when confronted with seemingly unbearable tragedy.
As a psychiatrist working with patients who have experienced significant grief, depression and trauma following the death of a loved one, serious illness or physical injury, I applaud how Cooper and Zarnett convey diverse and personalized pathways to guide one’s personal healing and post traumatic growth after loss, and most importantly, their message of possibility and hope."
—Rosalie Steinberg, MSc, MD, FRCPC
Staff Psychiatrist, Clinician Quality Improvement Mood & Anxiety and Medical Psychiatry Programs, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Psychiatric Consultant, Hope and Me--Mood Disorders Association of Ontario Affiliate Scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
"I have long imagined a conversation where our late daughter asks, "Well, Mom, what did you do with your life after I left?" "Never Say Never" is part of David Cooper's answer: sharing stories of losses and challenges, of moving through (never over) grief, of hope and of the most important reminder that we are never alone in our pain. I know that he will answer his late son Eli, whose name is forever remembered through Eli's Place and its good works, by saying, "we helped others".
—Erin Davis, author of the bestselling book Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss and Reclaiming Joy , a 2020 inductee into the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and a long time host of 98.1 CHFI's Morning Show until her retirement in 2016.
Like Jon Kabat-Zinn's Wherever You Go There You Are' every day I re-read a different chapter of Never Say Never: Stories of Hope, Resilience and Working Through Loss. Each re-reading helps me reflect upon and heal from the great loss in my life. Like a gift that keeps giving, each chapter yields nuggets of wisdom.