Oct 25, 2013

Mom Loves 2 Read welcomes Author Eleanor Vincent as today's Guest

Today on Mom Loves 2 Read, I welcome Author Eleanor Vincent to share a little for my readers of her experience with Grief Recovery . . .

Reflections on Grief Recovery

It’s been 21 years since my 19-year-old daughter Maya was thrown from a horse and went into an irreversible coma. Healing my grief over Maya’s death has liberated me in ways beyond what I could ever have imagined. The worst has already happened. What is left to fear?

Swimming with Maya is a crisis memoir that plumbs deeply the intense shock, grief, and anger that followed in the wake of my daughter’s accidental death. What I wrote in those pages continues to move and amaze me.

As I prepared to reissue Swimming with Maya in e-book and paperback format last spring, I read page
after page, tears streaming down my cheeks. My publisher, Mike O’Mary at Dream of Things, had asked me to identify quotes to use on the book’s Amazon page. I thumbed through my own book, putting colored paperclips on passages so raw they took me right back to the afternoon Maya died and I made the decision to donate her organs and tissues to people in need.

The last third of the book is about how I healed my grief. Those stories – how I wrote my way, slowly and haltingly, to acceptance, worked out long buried family patterns in therapy, sought out people who inspired me, including the man who received my daughter’s heart – are the light that draws me as a reader.  Of course, I know how the story turns out.  Yet there are moments I had forgotten. Reading passages from the book made the experiences alive and fresh again.

Here’s one from Chapter 3: “Maya’s chest rises and falls. The ventilator hisses, the computers beep, fiber optic cable snakes into her skull. I never knew love could be so big, that it could expand to allow even this. I have a premonition of lifelong grief rolling toward me, but I know that, once again, I am being asked to give my daughter her freedom.”

That was the moment I realized I had no right, nor any power, to hold my daughter here. I had to let her go. I gave in to her coma and ultimate death because they were hers not mine, a destiny I could never have imagined. That moment of surrender marked me for life.

This was not an easy book to write, nor is it easy to read.

So why read it? Is there something to be learned in these pages that is valuable enough to offset the pain?

I believe we read to experience life vividly. Good writing puts us inside the mind and heart of the writer, creating a world we can inhabit, a safe space to vicariously experience another’s life. The death of a child is something every parent fears, and few want to imagine deeply. Swimming with Maya offers one woman’s way through the tangle of emotions. As one reader wrote after finishing the book, “I feel broken and mended.”

Healing from grief is a long, slow process. Writing about it helped me go all the way to the bottom of my grief, and that is where I found treasures that continue to inspire me.

Swimming with Maya is vital testimony about how losses can be healed. It was worth writing.  I hope you find it worth reading.

Swimming With Maya; A Mother’s Story is a memoir that has been called "heartbreaking and heart-healing," Eleanor Vincent shares an inspiring true story of courage, creativity, faith, and sheer tenacity as she seeks to find balance after unthinkable tragedy.

Previously available only in hardcover, Swimming with Maya demonstrates the remarkable process of healing after the traumatic death of a loved one. 

Eleanor Vincent raised her two daughters, Maya and Meghan, virtually as a single-parent. Maya, the eldest, was a high-spirited and gifted young woman. As a toddler, Maya was an angelic tow-head, full of life and curiosity. As a teenager, Maya was energetic and independent - and often butted heads with her mother. But Eleanor and Maya were always close and connected, like best friends or sisters, but always also mother and daughter.

Then at age 19, Maya mounts a horse bareback as a dare and, in a crushing cantilever fall, is left in a coma from which she will never recover. Eleanor's life is turned upside down as she struggles to make the painful decision about Maya's fate.

Ultimately Eleanor chooses to donate Maya's organs. Years later, in one of the most

poignant moments you will ever read about, Eleanor has the opportunity to hear her daughter's heart beat in the chest of the heart recipient. Along the way, Eleanor re-examines her relationship with her daughter, as well as the experiences that shaped Eleanor as a woman and as a mother to Maya.

An inspirational/motivational true story recommended for anyone who has experienced tragedy, who is grappling with traumatic experiences of the past, or who wants to better understand the strength and healing power of the human spirit.

Paperback: 340 Pages
Publisher: Dream of Things (March 26, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0988439042 Twitter hashtag: #SWMaya

Swimming with Maya; A Mother’s Story is available as a print and e- book at
Amazon .

About the Author:

Eleanor Vincent is an award-winning writer whose debut memoir, Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story , was nominated for the Independent Publisher Book Award and was reissued by Dream of Things press early in 2013. She writes about love, loss, and grief recovery with a special focus on the challenges and joys of raising children at any age.
Called “engaging” by Booklist, Swimming with Maya chronicles the life and death of Eleanor’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Maya, who was thrown from a horse and pronounced brain-dead at the hospital. Eleanor donated her daughter’s organs to critically ill patients and poignantly describes her friendship with a middle-aged man who was the recipient of Maya’s heart.

Since the initial publication of Swimming with Maya in 2004, Eleanor has been a national spokesperson on grief recovery and organ donation, appearing on CNN and San Francisco’s Evening Magazine. She has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and been interviewed on radio and television programs around the country.
She was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, where she occasionally teaches writing workshops on creative nonfiction and memoir.
Her essays appear in the anthologies At the End of Life: True Stories about How we Die(edited by Lee Gutkind); This I Believe: On Motherhood; and Impact: An Anthology of Short Memoirs. They celebrate the unique and complicated bonds between mothers and daughters, making hard decisions as a parent – whether your child is 14 or 40 – and navigating midlife transitions with grace and authenticity. She lives in Oakland, California.

Find out more about this author by visiting her online:

Disclosure: I received free the item(s) mentioned in this post in exchange for my honest review. Regardless ~ All my reviews are my honest and personal opinion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”.


  1. That seems a very heart touching story.

  2. Thank you! I've heard from readers that it has inspired their own grief recovery or changed the way they relate to their children. I hope you enjoy Swimming with Maya, which is all about how we move forward after loss.


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