Re: General

Dear Mark,

I just finished reading almost all, if not all, of your writing excerpts. I
started with one, and just kept going!  Wow, you are such a good writer! I only wish for your sake that you hadn’t  had the overwhelming experience of Andrew’s sickness and death to write about…but you have certainly come to terms with it and in the process have created a beautiful memorial to him and your struggle that I’m sure help
many others.

— Sarah D, Bellevue, WA, November 22, 2010

Re: posts about Prayer

Dear Mark,

I pray every day…or almost since sometimes I miss a day.  I say 3 standard prayers and then it’s a free-for-all prayer.

I pray to Jesus.

I believe he answers all prayers with the perfect answer…which sometimes isn’t the answer that I want.

I’ve not been blessed with ever having any interaction w/an angel that was a recordable event….but that doesn’t stop me from believing.  …and praying.

There is more that I don’t understand than what I do understand.

I do know that prayer helps calm me when things aren’t going right, and I pray when things are going super-right.  Then, prayer involves giving thanks and praying that I am humble enough to ensure that I don’t take all the credit.

I hope never to experience the trials you’ve endured.  I believe that God never challenges us to more than what we can handle, and I’ve told Him repeatedly that I’m weak and can’t handle much.

…but I know that no matter what i say, the challenges for the future will be out there.

I’ll pray for you in the coming days that God helps you out.  One thing I’ve learned, however, is that God never pushes His way into your life.  You’ve got to invite Him into it.  God only enters into a relationship when we choose to accept Him.  He’s always there for us no matter how long He’s been ignored and how many dumb things you’ve done.  So, I know my prayers will be answered, but I also know that unless you open truly your heart to His love, nothing will happen to you.  What do you have to lose by trying?

Oh, and congrats on the award.  You’ve worked very, very hard.

— Brian F, Seattle, November 3, 2010

Re: post “Anger Management”

I read one of your recent blog posts on anger management.  It was excellent.

— Brian W, Seattle, September 3, 2010

I was just about to purchase a punching bag. Thank you for writing this, and sparing me the expense, both monetarily and emotionally.  I feel lucky to have stumbled across it, and hope that others who are dealing with loss find the way to deal with what is under the anger.  I once had a friend who said she was afraid to cry, because once she started, she was quite certain she would never stop.  I am so sorry about your son – a parent is never supposed to outlive their child. It is so unnatural, it seems.

— Kurt, September 20, 2010

Re: essay “The Decision Tree,” Third Prize winner in the 79th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, Memoir/Personal Essay category, October 2010.

Moved me to tears, Mark.  I was right there with you, my heart breaking.

— Bobbi, June 12, 2010

Dear Mark,

I just read the excerpt from your new opus. Very well-written and moving. I can really sense the desperation that you, as a father, must have felt in that situation. And as a father myself, I would also do anything to save one of my children — something you clearly did….I wish you all the best in finding a publisher. I enjoy your writing style and think you have an engaging and authentic voice.

— Kevin, Vienna, Austria, June 12, 2010

Dear Mark,

A very powerful, truly haunting sample of what you have been writing (and living).

— John, Murieta, CA, June 12, 2010

Dear Mark.

Your piece is amazing.  You capture only like a parent could the deep distress that parents go through as they scramble to do everything as you “should” as a parent, including touching upon what becomes the reality for some, that your child will actually live into their death.

I’m working with a divorced mom and dad who are so there right now.  In this case in a heart breaking way the child is pushing dad away and the reason is unclear.  It is heartbreaking for everyone, including the child because he can’t articulate his desires, but has this yearning to push dad away. Indeed I do see children choose a parent as the “bad guy” but in some ways this case is extreme.  Indeed I also acknowledge that I don’t know or will ever know the whole of the family story.

— Maureen, Seattle, February 2, 2010

Re: essay “Celebration,” one of 40 finalists selected from more than 500 submissions to the journal Creative Non Fiction on the topic of End of Life.

Dear Mark,

It is simply beautiful.   I was honored to read it.  No wonder you are a finalist.  It is a stunning piece.

— Karen, Bellevue, WA, April 23, 2010

Dear Mark,

I have now read—and been very moved by—your essay.  Although I’m a parent (and grandparent) also and our two daughters are now single mothers each with a child after having gone through a divorce, I know that I really can’t imagine how difficult your experiences just before and at the time of Andrew’s death.  You write clearly and honestly in ways that readers can easily understand.

— Chuck, Tampa Bay, FL, August 28, 2010

Re: an early draft of my memoir “Free the Sorrow:  A Grieving Father Breaks the Death Grip of Anger”

Dear Mark,

I just got a chance to read the first few pages and I thought it was amazing. I got shivers down my neck which is always a good sign that I’m in the presence of something profound. I look forward to reading the rest of it. And the other manuscripts too!

— Waverly, Seattle, WA,  August 13, 2009

Re: website

Dear Mark,

Oh my goodness, your blog is just as powerful as your Facebook page.  The story Promises especially touched me.  Look’Em in the Eyes is amazing.  Broken Promises is profoundly touching.  To Get Better, Fire the Worst is right on!!

You are handing your heart, unshielded, out to your readers.  We humans crave authenticity and clear, unshielded connections to others.  Who could not be drawn in by what you write?

It’s clear through your writing that you have been through blinding, excruciating pain and have emerged from the other side as an evolved being now able to feel with every cell of your being and with the knowledge that your experience of joy, love, and connection to others is limitless and now provides the basis to be resilient through anything.

Mark, you’re amazing.  Thank you for putting your heart out to the world.  You’ve definitely touched me.

— Chris, Sonoma County, CA, June 2009


I think there is a lot of need and demand for the book and your insights, and that your approach is powerful and could help millions of people around the world.

— Nick, Seattle, August 2010

Dear Mark,

Your Free the Sorrow excerpt moved me deeply. I am impressed by how open you are when talking about your personal feelings of anger and sadness, what created them and the way you are trying to overcome them, by far not typical for a man.

This is my story of anger, sadness and fear. It all happened in 2005 and changed my life completely.

Five sentences explain the major happenings of the year:
– I went through a divorce
– My parents committed suicide
– There were no relatives or friends to ask for help
– I lived in a foreign country where I had no job to make a decent living
– An unhappy relationship broke my heart

At the end of the year I set my house on fire – unintentionally.  The disaster did not even freak me out. There was no strength left to fight against myself. In one year my whole world had crashed.

Yet even though I was told that anger would come as a necessary reaction to my losses, I never felt any. I don’t think I felt anything at all for a long time… maybe I felt like a shadow, somewhat unreal, like someone standing next to oneself. My shell had been cracked. I surrendered into accepting my fate. Months later I realized that to surrender was the best to happen to me. If I had invested into anger, the anger would have left me with less energy to get back onto my feet, energy I did not have at the time anyway.

Meanwhile I also understand that there had been anger on my side that had developed a long time before my losses. It was caused by years of unhappy marriage, by lack of support, non-appreciation, non-affection towards each other and, most of all, continuous stress. I realize how much one’s behaviors can change when one is unsatisfied and angry. I still do not have an explanation for why I tolerated this so long, why it took me so many years to grow up and get rid of all this distress.

It took me two years to feel again. Even when I wanted to cry I wasn’t able to. There were no tears. I almost felt happy when the feeling of sadness and pain returned into my life. With them a new world with a new consciousness came into being. This world when it comes doesn’t feel good but it is part of me. I have learned to surrender to it, to the sadness that grips me from deep inside. When I feel the pain I am aware that I need to accept it, live through it and for some reason at some point I always start feeling peaceful again. I have no idea how suffering transforms into peace, it just does.

As to the fears I had — I fortunately managed to overcome them by integrating back into life, gaining control of myself, establishing a new profession and doing things I like.

Today…I am grateful to have had the courage to step out of an unhappy marriage. I’d rather live embraced by the feeling of sadness of not having a family than with the anger and dissatisfaction caused by unhappiness.

I am grateful to my parents as they gave me everything they were able to give to help me survive in this world. I know they loved me and did not want to hurt me. They taught me to accept peoples’ choices although suicide does not fit my thinking or our culture in general.

I am grateful to have learned to stand on my own feet and proud to have had the strength to follow through with becoming independent with no help.

And most of all I am grateful for the peacefulness inside of me, the realization that most problems, fears and worries are not worth investing into, that I am able to laugh again and enjoy every day’s beauty.

I’d be very interested in reading more of God’s Whispers, if available. I am not a writer but reading and writing things off my soul have helped me in the past to handle my feelings. I also understand that what you have gone through in respect of your son’s death is the worst a parent can encounter. He had no choice. I am very, very sorry.

Also, I like the direct way you speak up in your other articles. You seem like a very interesting man.

I’d like to end this with something I read in P. Coelho’s book “The Pilgrimage.”

“One needs to see every day’s angles, but never forget to talk to your devil. He will challenge you by giving advice (threat, promise, attack on the weak side). However, it is on you to figure out the good way.”

The challenge is what lets us breathe and live!

Take care,

Eva, Bainbridge Island, WA, August 5, 2009