“Twentyone Olive Trees: A Mother’s Walk Through the Grief of Suicide to Hope and Healing” catalogues the painful, transformative journey that only loss can give us. After the sudden death of her son, Laura Formentini sets her experience and talent as a wordsmith to writing letters and fables. Addressed to her son, these stories take the reader on the journey with her, inspiring and captivating us with her heart. Wisdom is shared, tears and laughter too, as the pages unfold a path to healing. Formentini gives us insight to the writing process, as we learned about her and how this book came to be.
“Twentyone Olive Trees: A Mother’s Walk Through the Grief of Suicide to Hope and Healing” was written in the year following your son’s death. Could you tell us more about what moved you to share these intimate, beautiful writings with the rest of the world?
In 2019, I was working in Ethiopia when I got word that my 21-year-old son had taken his life on the other side of the world. While I was preparing for my trip halfway around the globe on four different flights and thirty-five hours by myself, an Ethiopian man, a stranger, stood by my side that entire day, holding my hand for ten hours or so. He was a beacon in my darkest hour. When I was able to board my first flight, I expressed gratitude for his kindness, but the stranger declined, saying that “he had done nothing special; it had simply been his human responsibility.” This spontaneous act of compassion not only saved my life- it stayed with me.
Only five or six weeks after my son’s passing, I suddenly received a powerful urge to start writing while I was back in the US. Whilst it was shown to me as a cathartic way of releasing my pain, I also slowly understood that sharing my story would help others relate to my pain and not feel alone in their grieving process. Grief is love that has nowhere to go, and writing helped me immensely to let that pain flow and not stagnate. If we can set an intention to let our emotions flow and move as soon as we can, we will liberate ourselves from the darkness, become free, and reconnect with the world in a much more significant way.
You and your son traveled across the world and lived in different places. Do your adventures influence your writing and process?
I have been a nomad for a large portion of my life. I have never felt the desire to settle in one specific spot or “call” one place “home.” In a way, I have always thought that the world is my home. Traveling and helping others at the same time has been my purpose. As the quote goes, “not all who wander are lost,” I believe that all of the travel has opened my mind exponentially by connecting with those who live in entirely different cultures, giving me a deep understanding that no matter where we are, the people who surround us all need the very exact basic needs- shelter, connection, a need to love and feel loved, a deeply rooted want to belong and to be understood. Writing Twentyone Olive Trees has helped me heal myself and share my story universally, with the ultimate scope of being a gentle friend to anyone going through their dark moments. Grief is a natural response to any loss- it can be death, an artificial or natural disaster, but it can also be divorce or a job loss. Grief is universal- and grief can be overcome if we purposefully set our intention to let our emotions flow.
“Twentyone Olive Trees: A Mother’s Walk Through the Grief of Suicide to Hope and Healing” serves as a potent balm for a soul processing grief. Are there stories or book by favorite authors that helped you?
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle has taught me to stay in the moment and understand that we are a manifestation of the unmanifested. It is in our power to create anything out of what we have because we are eternal beings with the infinite power of Spirit within us.
Deepak Chopra’s Total Meditation has helped me tap into the power of meditation and how to stay connected to our source, which is infinitely benevolent, loving, and the basis of all creativity. His quote, “the highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective- people who know to see a problem as an opportunity” sparked the creative process of Twentyone Olive Trees.
You were already an established and successful author before you started this profound journey. Did your process or writing voice change while working on this personal, moving book?
Writing is a process of constant evolution- as we evolve, so does our writing. Twentyone Olive Trees is an intimate book that copes with loss, death, and rebirth. I believe that going through death and rebirth happens numerous times throughout our lifetimes; in fact, we are constantly dealing with losing something and then finding something else. To lose a job and to find another one. To end a relationship to go on and start a better one. To give up on a specific lifestyle to gloriously begin a new path with new, healthier habits. Life is constant evolution- nothing stays the same. The only constant in life is that it constantly evolves into its new phase. As the chrysalis transforms into a butterfly, we need to remind ourselves that one phase is not more important than another. As the process of evolution teaches, it all belongs to the same path, and each phase is just as important as the other. Staying grateful for the lessons we receive in each moment of each day is the gateway to our freedom and to transform into whom we were always meant to be, as dictated by a mysterious, loving, and intelligent force much greater than us.
“Twentyone Olive Trees: A Mother’s Walk Through the Grief of Suicide to Hope and Healing” is helping so many people with its powerful statements of love. You have an inspiring talent with words and expressing emotions. Do you have another project underway?
One of my projects involves creating a Twentyone Olive Trees healing sanctuary for grieving mothers, where women who have lost a child may come and find hope and healing. I am currently looking at various locations worldwide, although Costa Rica remains one of my favorite places. The center will be a place for rejuvenation, reconnection with ourselves after such tremendous loss, and connection with other mothers who have undergone such a traumatic event. I believe that the shortest way out is through. Although losing a child is by far the most traumatic event that can occur to a mother, we all have the power and strength to overcome anything, especially if we connect to similar souls and feel that our hand is being held during our darkest moment. Although we have to remember that the infinite source of wisdom and love runs through us all at all times and that we are always supported and cherished, sometimes it is necessary to feel that our environment is supportive enough for our growth and advancement and that we are never alone in our grief, especially in the beginning stages of the process.
For more information on Laura Formentini and “Twentyone Olive Trees: A Mother’s Walk Through the Grief of Suicide to Hope and Healing” head over to Amazon.