Readers will welcome Elizabeth Neeld’s Seven Choices…offers sound advice on how to adjust to change and form new life patterns and human bonds.
Though written in the pangs, Seven Choices is a joyful book of hope with insights that will bring light to the unavoidable darkness.
–Harry Lipscomb, M.D. Texas A&M Medical School
…A profound book in many ways ecause the author really cares about people…deeply compassionate and very wise. This is a fine, sensitive book written by a very intelligent person. Extremely well done.
–The Coast Book Review Service
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Seven Choices: Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World
by Elizabeth Harper Neeld
Paperback: 368 pages. ISBN: 0446690503
Publisher: Warner Books; Reprint edition (August 2003)
In this ground-breaking book, Elizabeth Harper Neeld describes the steps each of us can take to find a new balance for our lives after experiencing death, divorce, financial setbacks, illness, as well as grief, loss and change of any kind.
This book maps the complete grieving and change process and provides a way to respond to change by identifying seven positive choices that lead to a “new normal.” These positive choices bring healing and stability and show how to avoid getting stuck in mourning, anger, bitterness and sadness.
An inspiring and profoundly moving book, Seven Choices offers hope, comfort, and advice to those who are experiencing change and loss. Dr. Elizabeth Harper Neeld guides the reader through the often confusing range of emotions and issues that occur during the process of finding equilibrium after change and loss.
The poignant story of the death of Dr. Neeld’s young husband serves as the author’s starting point. She then goes on to describe the seven steps in a life-transforming process of change and identifies the seven growth-engendering choices that culminate in release from the past and in discovery of a stronger and balanced self ready to live into the future. Enriched by the varied experiences of people who, like the author, have found a renewed zest for life, Dr. Neeld’s beautifully written book provides the deep compassion, the keen insight, and the practical steps that will empower the person facing change and loss to become a healthier, happier, and wiser individual.
Published by Warner Books, New York. Index, Notes, and an extensive Directory of Resources. 368 pages.
Excerpt from Seven Choices: Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World
I looked at my watch: 8:17 P. M.
“He really should be back,” I thought. “I know it’s harder to jog here than back home. But, even so, he’s had enough time to finish his run by now.”
Every summer, as soon as the spring term ended at Texas A&M, Greg and I came to our cabin in the Tennessee hills. We had bought the place four years earlier, just after we had gotten married. We could hardly believe our good fortune: the cabin cost us almost nothing because it was so old and run-down (a condition Greg found most appealing—he loved to wield a saw and a hammer) and the location reminded us so much of the beautiful spot where we were married.
In fact, the mountains around our cabin were part of the same range that sheltered Cade’s Cove, the site of our wedding. When we were dating, we had come upon the tiny cove that appears so unexpectedly and incongruously among the rugged and steep mountain peaks. Here a few families of pioneers, trekking in the early nineteenth century toward a new life, had found a haven among the cove’s meadows. The barrier of mountains surround them required the settlers to rely on their own ingenuity. Their cabins, water mill, barns, churches, and pasture fences are still standing, now preserved as a national treasure, a testimony to the pioneer’s self-sufficiency. When we decided to get married, it was the oldest cabin in the cove, the John Oliver place, that Greg and I chose as the wedding site. That cabin, with its hand-hewn timbers, its doors fastened with carved wooden hinges, its floor worn smooth by generations of living, was a symbol for us of the way we wanted to live our new life together: simple, strong, in harmony with the environment.
Our own cabin had been built only 40 years ago, not over 150, but it and the surroundings had the same sense of timelessness and peace as Cade’s Cove and John Oliver’s cabin. Whether it was down at the feed store listening to the farmers guess about rain or on my parents’ front porch, our chairs tilted back against the wall, listening to night talk, we felt our spirits renewed when we came here.
My seventy-two-year-old daddy, a Holiness preacher retired from pastoring but not from preaching, as he was quick to tell you, had settled himself and Mother a few years before in a little wood-framed house on Possum Creek in Soddy-Daisy, which was right nearby. Greg and I loved to walk up the road at the end of the day and visit with my parents on their front porch.
“Got two bushels of butter beans out of the garden today,” Daddy would report. “And if we get rain, there’ll be more the day after tomorrow….Here, Elizabeth, take this dishpan and see if your thumbs still know how to open a bean.”
And then there’d be discussion about the progress of Mother’s fourteen-day cucumber pickles and whether or not there were enough tomatoes to begin to can. Most nights there’d be homemade peach ice cream around bedtime; and then Daddy would say, “Time to turn in.” Greg and I would start for our cabin.
We always seemed to be able to see the moon and at least one bright star in front of us as we walked down the country road. I would look up at the sky and chant a rhyme from my childhood:
I see the moon;
The moon sees me;
God bless the moon
And God bless…
Instead of “God bless me,” I always said, “And God bless us.”
Greg would answer:
Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.
“But,” he’d say, pulling me close, “I’ve already got my wish. I’ve got you!” No matter how predictable this ritual, we still laughed every time he said those words.
Greg and I were both professors, and we used the summer months to do our writing. We had come to the cabin this summer to finish a book we were writing together, and our work was going well. In the five days since we arrived we had opened up the cabin, unpacked our books and supplies, and decided where each of us would work.
Greg’s spot was at a small table on the tiny screened-in front porch. “Let’s me see who’s going up and down the road,” he joked, as if any more that one or two neighbors were likely to pass in a whole day’s time. I worked inside at a table we had placed beside a long wall of windows. I could watch the chameleons that scampered along the old stone foundation where, in some earlier time, another part of the cabin had stood. And if I looked up, I could almost see the tops of the pine trees that grew all around the cabin. “Virgin pines. Hundreds of years old,” Greg explained. “They’ve never been cut; that’s why they’re so tall.”
Work had gone well today, and after supper Greg had said, “What to join me for a six-mile run?”
“No, sir, offer declined,” I said. “I’ll do the two-mile route and see you back here when you’re finished.”
So I had run to the Possum Creek bridge and back, and it was now time—past time—for Greg to be home. Minutes passed. “I bet these hills did get to him,” I said to myself. “He’s probably walking the last miles. I’ll take the car and go pick him up; he’ll appreciate a ride back home.”
I started the car and guided it carefully over the big roots of the trees that grew all the way up to the edge of the cabin. I turned onto the paved road from the cabin lane. It was that time between daylight and dark that makes one feel lonesome and melancholy. Reaching the bridge at Possum Creek, I noticed how still and deep the water looked. Everything was covered with that kind of gray-green light left in the mountains when the sun had almost gone down. I crossed the bridge and rounded a curve.
There I came upon a scene of confusion. Large groups of people were standing on both sides of the road and spilling out into it. Carefully, I treaded my way through the crowd. I drove past the black-and-white car that belonged to the sheriff’s patrol. I drove past the orange-and-white ambulance parked in the gravel on the left-hand side of the road. What held my attention was getting back onto the open road.
The trees and bushes were thick and grew close to the pavement. “It’ll be easy to miss him if you’re not careful,” I reminded myself as I left the crowd behind. So I drove slowly, looking carefully to the right and to the left.
There he is! I see him! It was a glimpse of Greg’s orange running shorts. I had known I would find him taking it slow and easy up and down these hills! I accelerated the car and exhaled a sigh of relief. How long, I wondered, had I been holding my breath?
But when I got to the spot where Greg was, the orange was a cylinder that had been mounted on a post, meant to hold a newspaper.
By now I had reached the country store that I knew was Greg’s three-mile turnaround point. “I’ve just missed him somewhere on the road,” I said, speaking aloud to no one but myself. “I’ll turn around here. I know I’ll see him on the way back. I’ve just managed to miss him.”
When I got to the curve above Possum Creek, the large crowd was still there. So was the black-and-white car that belonged to the sheriff’s patrol. And so was the orange-and-white ambulance.
I noticed a man standing in the middle of the road. He seemed to be directing traffic.
“What happened?” I asked, rolling down the window when I got abreast of him.
“Lady, move on. You’re blocking traffic,” was the man’s reply.
I eased the car on down toward another man who was also standing in the middle of the road. This man appeared to be in charge.
“Sir, what happened?” I asked myself.
“We found a man in the ditch,” he answered.
“Well, I’m looking for my husband,” I said. “My husband went for a six-mile run, and he hasn’t come home yet.”
For a few seconds the man said nothing. Then he spoke in a voice so low that I could hardly hear him. “Ma’am, I think you should pull your car over to the side of the road.” I felt no emotion. I asked no additional questions. If there was any connection between what was happening beside that road and my life, it still was not apparent to me. But I did what I was told. I pulled over to the side of the road.
There was a place I could park on the gravel. I pulled in beyond the ambulance and turned off the motor. By the time I put my feet on the ground outside the car, that man and another were there by my open door. They were waiting for me to get out of the car.
From my seat, I looked up at the two strange men. It was only then that I realized that the man they had found in the ditch and the man I was looking for were probably one and the same.
“Is he dead,’ I asked.
There was a long silence. One of the men finally answered.
“Yes, ma’am. He is.”
I got out of the car. One man stood on my right side and one on my left. We began to walk, not touching, toward the ambulance. Greg, my husband, was dead.
Reviews for Seven Choices:
Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World
“A gifted writer…Elizabeth Neeld clearly meets Samuel Johnson’s first criterion for genius: the ability to find a relationship
between apparently unrelated ideas, or things…Compelling substance…”
— The Washington Post
“A useful, wide-ranging work…trenchant…pertinent…”
— Kirkus Reviews
“A highly original and meaningful approach to the grieving process.”
— Psychology Today Book News
“Seven Choices is one of the best books ever written on grief and mourning.”
— Value & Visions , Cultural Information Service, Vol. 23, No. 4
“This book, Seven Choices, saved my life.”
–a doctor from Seattle, a new widower, being interviewed on “Oprah”
“Life is a wondrous road but we all know about the ‘speed bumps.’ Elizabeth Harper Neeld’s beautiful book makes the road smoother through her delicate insight into the internal choices we all can make that make all the difference.”
–Linda Gray, Actress
“Readers will welcome Elizabeth Neeld’s [ Seven Choices ]…offers sound advice on how to adjust to change and form new life patterns and human bonds.”
— Publisher’s Weekly
“A handbook for moving through change and loss, written with touching candor and a deep wisdom. Though written in the pangs, Seven Choices is a joyful book of hope with insights that will bring light to the unavoidable darkness.”
— Harry Lipscomb, M. D., Texas A&M University College of Medicine
“I have read approximately thirty-five books on grief since my husband died last September, and, for me, Seven Choices is the one that has helped me the most.”
— C. Lahr, widow, writing to Bereavement Magazine
“This is the best book I have ever read on grieving; and I have read many. This is the most empowering book I have ever used
in working with grieving people; and I have worked with many.”
–Bill Moore, National Trainer, AARP Widowed Persons Services
“Seven Choices is an affirmation of the power of the grieving process, a source of hope and validation. Dr. Neeld clearly goes well beyond a focus on coping (which is necessary) and acceptance to the importance of integration and self-empowerment.”
–Dr . John Schneider, author, Stress, Loss and Grief
“Seven Choices is a profound book in many ways because the author really cares about people…deeply compassionate and very wise. This is a fine, sensitive book writen by a very intelligent person. Extremely well cone.”
— The Coast Book Review Service , Fullerton, Ca .
“This is the best book on mourning since Judith Viorst’s Necessary Losses.”
— Living Room Learning , Cultural Information Service