“Where is the handbook for widows?” Mary Kenyon lamented as she planned a funeral for the beloved husband whose triumph over cancer she chronicled in Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage. During the ensuing weeks, as she attempted to make sense of his untimely death, she filled two journals, blogged, and read the inspirational writings of others who had gone down the road of grief before her—authors like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. She eventually found herself studying grief and bereavement in her quest to unearth answers to alleviating the pain associated with profound loss. In the process, she discovered a strength and emotional reserve she didn’t know she had, along with an evolving faith that helped her face the impending loss of an eight-year-old grandson.
“In the midst of the darkness of loss, I found light. Admittedly, in those first weeks, it might have been but a single small spark I sensed deep inside of me, but that spark guided me in the twisted, dark journey of grief. As I stumbled over the roots of hopelessness and despair, that light grew to illuminate my path, a path I sometimes felt very alone on. At some point in the journey I’d turned around, and there was God.
"That is grace.”
In beautiful prose, touching metaphors and stories, and actual journal entries, Mary Potter Kenyon provides a balm for the grieving soul.
When we experience grief, what we long for most is the hand of someone who knows the depth of our pain. Refined by Fire is a friend's hand as you travel your journey of loss. It is the gentle, compassionate voice of someone who's walked in your shoes and who knows the rocks beneath your feet. Mary Kenyon brings practical experience clothed in gentle grace, unflinching truth, and unwavering hope. I recommend this book to pastors, therapists, and anyone who has lost a loved one.
—Shelly Beach, Award-winning author of 10 books, including Precious Lord, Take My Hand, Managing editor, Hope in the Mourning Bible (Zondervan 2013), Co-founder of PTSDPerspectives.org, Caring.com expert, ShellyBeachOnline.org/PTSDPerspectives.com
"Mary Kenyon's Refined by Fire reminds me of my grandmother, Madeleine L'Engle, who taught so many of us that writing can be a form of prayer that leads us to grace. I was moved to read how her influence inspired Mary to write and heal as well. Mary's writing style is extremely accessible, and her voice raw, authentic and brave. By the end I was crying with her. I would definitely recommend her book to anyone who is going through any type of loss."
—Léna Roy, granddaughter of Madeleine L’Engle, author of Edges, and seasoned writing instructor and Program Manager for Writopia Lab, a not-for-profit dedicated to empowering youth through creative writing.
"Not long into the writers' workshop I was teaching on a Midwestern college campus, a woman in the front row of desks began to weep. I didn't know why at the time. But I sensed I was witness to something holy happening in that room. The book you hold in your hands is a result of that holy moment when the God of heaven gave the author permission to write out of the midst of her pain to provide a holding-on place for others in theirs. Mary Potter Kenyon's breathtakingly real thoughts reveal that razor edge where despair dances with hope and the ugly becomes elegant. I'm already creating a list of those laid on my heart to receive the gift of the story of Mary's grief journey."
—Cynthia Ruchti, author of Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices