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Jill Osterhout reconstructs a broken life through writing

by Tianna G. Hansen

Every once in a while, you pick up a book you didn’t know you needed but makes an everlasting difference on your perspective of the world.

That’s what happened when reading Jill Osterhout’s recent release “Reconstructing a Broken Life…After Unspeakable Loss.”

Jill says she isn’t a writer by nature, which makes this book of self-help after loss that much more of a masterpiece.

Losing a child is something no parent should have to face, but one day it happened to Jill and her family.

This isn’t a tale about dwelling on her loss; it’s about how to reconstruct life after all she has known is shattered.

When you feel broken beyond repair, how do you go about picking up the pieces?

Jill focuses on how she has worked to reconcile this immense grief and recreate her “new normal,” living with the heavy weight of loss as a constant, lurking in the corner of every day, dimming each holiday, awakening her in cold sweats during the night.

Jill speaks to many things that someone undergoing severe loss would only understand through experience, such as losing friends you thought were close and dealing with the discomfort of those around you who don’t know how to accept you and your emotions into their lives.

This books works as a manual for those living with grief and incorporating it into their new world, but it also goes beyond that and offers hope and help for those who surround someone who is suffering.

It covers everything from social interactions to healing a marriage, continuing to raise a family after the loss of a child, being present and being whoever you are able to be.

“I became someone different after my loss,” Jill said in an interview. “I wouldn’t have become this person without it, and I love who I am now, but I had to lose my son in order to become her.”

Jill’s main goal in writing this book was not only for those who are broken or struggling with loss, but also those who can help them through it.

It can be difficult for people around someone who is struggling to figure out how to help, what to do to be there for someone who is struggling through grief.

Often people are uncomfortable speaking to someone who has experienced loss, and this is a topic Jill tackles well in this book.

It gives guidance not only to those who are suffering through this grief but those who are able to lend support. 

“If we could all help put each other back together and have this resilient mindset, it could change the world,” Jill said. “That’s what we need and it would make such a big difference. My purpose is to help those people and if it lands in one person’s hands and helps them, my work is complete.”

The book employs the metaphor of using a construction crew to reconstruct this life, taking off a hopeful symbol of Bobby’s life for Jill – the dump trucks he adored so much in his short life.

“Writing this for me was difficult, but it was also healing,” Jill said.

Jill rediscovers her faith and trust in life’s plan for her throughout the course of this heart-wrenching book.

Today, Jill is continuing to spread her message of resilience and speaks at places where people are undergoing recovery, such as Libertae, a nonprofit offering support to women in recovery from drug addiction.

“There’s such a stigma against mental illness and grief.”

Recovery from [drug] addiction and grief recovery often go hand in hand with the work involved in each, which is what spurred Jill to begin speaking publicly, focusing on all forms of recovery and spreading her story of resilience.

She dedicates a special chapter in her book to the parallels she found with addiction while working through her grief.

“It helps me to give meaning to Bobby’s life,” Jill said. “I want to give other people a chance to truly live and make his little life worthwhile.”

You can find links to order and learn more at the publisher’s website at sbprabooks.com/jillosterhout/.

Jill leaves with a message of hope for all forms of recovery by sharing her process with grief and learning to live a new life after feeling broken to pieces.

As Jill writes, “Each day, I choose to move forward, to acknowledge my loss, and to continue to build my strong mosaic with every tool that I have gained.”

PHOTO CAP: Jill Osterhout