Why are we created? Why does God sometimes take away one of His created beings before it even enters the world? These questions, to which there are no immediate answers, are raised by the author in Gladsome Rose, the story of the author's experience of loss, grief, and personal growth after giving birth to a still born daughter, Eleni. The book is a captivating story - personal, yet accessible - about the author's spiritual journey. Her experience directly addresses a parent's grief, but also relates, more generally, to the human condition. Eva Topping wrote in a recent review of the book, "The experiences which she honestly and vividly describes are universal: death, fear, loss and pain; the search for meaning and faith."
The title of the book is taken from the Orthodox funeral service for children. Ms. Lafakis weaves in her own thoughts and feelings with biblical passages, as well as excerpts from other services from which she finds spiritual nourishment. The interspersing of personal comments with selected biblical quotations and texts from the services made these passages come alive, inviting the reader to think about them in new and thoughtful ways.
Ms. Lafakis' journey was a difficult but transforming one. As Eva Topping summarized, "She had traveled from despair to hope, from death to life. And finally she understood that her little still born daughter, Eleni, was and is a blessing. . . sent by God."
O child, who could refrain from lament when beholding your lovely face,
which was like a gladsome rose, now quickly fading away.
(Funeral service for Infants - Last Kiss)
Epilogue: The publication of Ms. Lafakis' book has led her parish in Birmingham, Alabama, in cooperation with a local hospital, to sponsor a peri-natal bereavement support ministry that meets weekly.
Gladsome Rose may be ordered from Light and Life Publishing, 4818 Park Glen Road, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55416 or phone (612) 925-3888.