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The Life Beyond: A Conversation About Grief and Cancer with Authors and Survivors Christine Corrigan and Laraine Herring (Virtual Event)

February 4, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm PST

Again: Surviving Cancer Twice with Love and Lists tells Christine Shields Corrigan’s story of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis at forty-nine, and how that forces her, as a wife, mom, and meticulous list-maker, to confront her deepest fears of illness, death, and loss of control as she struggles to face cancer again. From the discovery of a “junky” cyst, to chemotherapy and surgery, sleepless nights filled with rosaries and “what ifs,” and shifting family dynamics, her adult experience mirrors her teen bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with one exception—she no longer has parents keeping her in the dark. With the ghosts of cancer past hovering around her, Chris falls into the same overprotective traps her taciturn Irish-Catholic parents created, striving to keep her family’s life “normal,” when it is anything but, and soldiering through on her own, until a neighbor’s unexpected advice and gift move her to accept others’ help. With fierce honesty, poignant reflection, and good humor, Chris shares a journey filled with sorrow, grace, forgiveness, and resilience, as she wends her way through cancer for the second time. Again offers practical guidance and hope to individuals that they have the strength to forge a path beyond a diagnosis.

What if a gift lived inside grief? Laraine Herring’s The Grief Forest follows Bunny, who captures her grief in a bubble the color of her father’s soul after her dies. She carries this grief with her, afraid that if she lets it go, she will lose her daddy. Bunny’s grief leads her to The Grief Forest and Grandmother Bunny, who meets her at the Forest’s edge. Bunny is afraid of all the grief she sees there, so she runs away and meets Death, who guides her deeper into the Forest. Each animal she meets expresses an aspect of grief. As Bunny’s grief begins to take on a life of its own, she becomes desperate to hold onto it, afraid of who she would be without it. She falls deeper into the Forest, meeting creatures of the sea and creatures of the night. When she meets Cobra, everything she thought she knew about grief falls away and she has to make a choice: hold on to a life that has gone, or learn how to be alive in a new environment. For all ages, The Grief Forest is a journey through complicated grieving, showing examples of delayed grief, absent grief, PTSD, attachment, disenfranchised grief, and many more. Bereavement is a place. When we grieve, we enter this mysterious world and we do not leave it unchanged. And by meeting our grief, sitting quietly with it and listening to it, we can access its deeper wisdom, helping to heal not only the griever, but the whole world.

Christine Shields Corrigan, a two-time cancer survivor, wife, and mom, gives voice to the beautiful ordinary in her lyrical and practical essays. Her work about family, illness, writing, and resilient survivorship has appeared in The Brevity BlogDreamer’s Creative Writing and AnthologyGrown & FlownThe Potato Soup Journal and AnthologyPurple CloverRavishly.comWildfire Magazine, and the Writer’s Circle 2 Anthology. Corrigan’s essay about how her cancer experiences helped her cope with the COVID-19 pandemic is included in (Her)orics: Women’s Lived Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic. A graduate of Manhattan College and Fordham University School of Law, Chris teaches creative nonfiction writing for an adult education program, provides writing workshops for cancer support groups, and serves on the programming committee of the Morristown Festival of Books. She lives in Somerset County, New Jersey, with her family and devoted Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Laraine Herring is a tenured professor of creative writing and psychology. Her fiction has won the Barbara Deming Award for Women, and her nonfiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has volunteered for Hospice of the Valley, directed the New Song Center for Grieving Children’s support group, worked with women in transitional housing and women recovering from addiction. Her work—whether it’s her paid employment, her volunteer work, or her creative work—focuses on the power of stories to heal what’s hidden within us. Her most recent book is The Grief Forest, a book about what we don’t talk about. Her trilogy of writing books from Shambhala have been on Poets & Writers top ten books for writers. Her memoir, A Constellation of Ghosts: A Speculative Memoir with Ravenswill be released in October 2021 from Regal House Publishing. She is a colon cancer survivor and lives with many wise cats in northern AZ.