Title: Shannon’s Gift: A Story of Love, Loss, and Recovery
Author: Nate Bennett
Genre: Grieving, loss, love story
Publish Date: June 1, 2014
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.
~ Book Synopsis ~In this raw, emotional memoir, Nate Bennett shares the blog he maintained to work through his grief over the sudden loss of his wife Shannon. He is surprised and comforted to discover a vast virtual community of support. His blog posts—alternately poignant and of dry wit—eventually attracted tens of thousands of hits and a following from readers who hadn’t known the couple. This unique book gives the reader a window into the starkness of a widower’s grieving experience in real time. What comes through in virtually every post is his love for Shannon as he weaves in vignettes from their life together, chronicling their love story and his efforts to recover. And in the end, with the support of his virtual community and the strength he was able to draw from remembering Shannon’s wishes for him, he finds love again.
Today I am thinking about the best age to become a widower. The question came to mind because I found myself
thinking that from where I stood, the grass was greener in every direction. I hate the self-pity—I really do. So I was
trying to work my way through it to get past it.
If I was younger, I might not have Spencer and Reid. Or I might be in a severe struggle to try to raise them right. Or I
would have lots of mobility restrictions. But if I was younger I would feel like there was still enough runway ahead to
use to launch something great. If I was older, I might not feel as frightened about spending the time I have left alone. I
might be able to just work myself to death. I like my work—so that isn’t as bad as it sounds. But 30 years of working
myself to death is too long.
I think I am a widower at the worst age. I am a ‘tweener widower. Too old for round two, too young to throw in the
towel. So much for working through the self-pity!
Changing the sheets today. The thought passed that I could wash the sheets half as often if I slept for a week on my
side and then a week on Shannon’s side. Think of all the water I would save the planet. I could be an eco-hero. I
quickly realized that I am careful when I go to bed, when I wake up, when I walk around the bedroom, to NOT look at
Shannon’s side of the bed. I have her side of the bed covered with pillows. I think part of me is trying to “hide” her side
of the bed from the rest of me. So I don’t think I’ll be sleeping over there any time soon.
The final deep thought for the day was that my bad moments come in two different flavors. I am not sure I understood
them this way before. One is when I am overcome by loneliness from missing Shannon. I get very, very sad. That is a
curl up in a ball and wait for it to pass thing. The other is when I am overcome with fright about being alone. That is a
get up and do stuff to be distracted thing.
So today was a frightened about being alone day. Boy, was I busy. Bank, carwash, tailor (she said “it’s good to see
you,” not “how are you?”), Reid’s bank, FedEx shop, lunch, grocery store, liquor store (for party Sunday).
Came out to the car, turned on the car. Song playing on the radio is “Miss You” by the Rolling
Stones. Really? Not fair.
About the AuthorIn the fall of 2011, Nate lost his wife of 26 years in a shocking turn of events. She’d just had an outpatient procedure on her shoulder and the doctor sent Nate to get the car to bring her home. In the next few minutes, things went terribly wrong. Shannon collapsed, never to recover. After more than a week in a critical care unit in pursuit of a cure, Nate honored Shannon’s wishes and had her life support discontinued and she died shortly later.
Nate’s book, Shannon’s Gift, is the result of the blog Nate kept during Shannon’s hospitalization and after her death. Initially, the purpose of the blog was to keep friends and family informed of Shannon’s condition. Quickly, though, the blog became Nate’s catharsis and a way to stay connected to a web of supporters. After the sudden loss of his wife, Nate was surprised and comforted to discover a vast virtual community of support. His blog posts – alternately expressing poignancy and dry wit – eventually attracted tens of thousands of readers and a following from people around the world that didn’t even know Nate or his wife.
The unique book gives the reader a window into the starkness of a widower’s grief in real time and a look at how social media has changed grieving in today’s world. In the end, with the support of his virtual community and the strength he was able to draw from remembering Shannon’s wishes for him, he finds love again.
While Nate is new to the personal memoir genre, he is co-author of two management books, "Riding Shotgun: The Role of the COO" and “Your Career Game: How Game Theory Can Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals.” Both are books published by Stanford University Press. Additionally, his research has been published in respected scholarly journals such as the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, Psychological Bulletin, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. He has also published in many widely read resources for managers including the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek.com and Forbes.com.
Nate Bennett is a professor of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in the summer of 2012. From 1999 to 2012, he was on the faculty of the business school at Georgia Tech, where he most recently held the position of the Catherine W. and Edwin A. Wahlen Professor of Management. From 1999 until 2010, he served as associate dean and then as senior associate dean. Prior to Georgia Tech, he served on the faculty at Louisiana State University.
While at LSU, he served at times as the management department’s Ph.D. program coordinator, department chair, MBA program director, and associate dean. Nate holds a BA in sociology, as well as a MA in Social Research from Tulane University. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He resides in Atlanta, GA.
What lessons did you soul learn from your experiences
in dealing with Shannon’s
Shannon’s illness has become relevant only because it led to her death. While
she lived, we felt we had no choice but to ignore it. That strategy worked for the
first 20 years of our relationship. For the last years, we learned to work around
it. So in the end - and not to parse words - I am not sure either my soul or I
learned anything from dealing with Shannon’s illness.
Her death – that’s another matter entirely. Though again, as I reflect on it the
lessons really came not from her death but from trying to get better.
1. I learned that Bob Marley was right, “You never know how strong
you are until being strong is your only choice.” I think that really
requires no further explanation.
2. People are capable of incredible kindness. It’s hard to let them be
kind to you because it reminds you of what happened, but you must.
3. I was reading a novel and a character had a line to the effect that
“there is no past, if there was we wouldn’t need sorrow” or something
similar. It’s a good line. Losing Shannon will never be in the past.
4. Never leave the house without kissing and hugging. While the
odds are in your favor, the chance you take a pass on could be the last
chance you get. I nearly took a pass on my last kiss with Shannon. If I
had, that would hurt so badly now.
5. It would be great if there were a way for people to gain the
perspective on “what matters” that losing Shannon gave me. How
much time and energy we waste fretting over people’s words and
actions that just don’t matter. Don’t ask if the pain of the loss was
worth the gain of perspective.
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