Thursday, November 21, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: SHARON PRENTICE








Becoming Starlight is a memoir about the process of grief and its relationship to the mysteries concerning the afterlife. This book will bring comfort to those who are feeling unrelenting sorrow over the loss of loved ones. This memoir is a story of surviving grief and mending the wounds of loss.



Book Details:

Title: Becoming Starlight: Surviving Grief and Mending the Wounds of Loss


Author: Sharon Prentice, PhD

Genre: memoir / spirituality

Publisher: Waterside Productions (May 8, 2018)

Print length: 220 pages








Q: Sharon, what inspired you to write this book?


A: Becoming Starlight is/was truly my life and death struggle with spiritual darkness and loss of faith. Having been raised within a very loving and supportive family, I was totally unprepared for the tragedy that would find its way into my life. I had no idea how to deal with life and death issues so, when death came knocking on my door and spirited away my newborn daughter, I fell into an abyss that had no end. Her death, followed a few years later by the death of my husband, became the impetus for what became the most transformative moment of my life—the SDE (Shared Death Experience)—my night among the stars. Becoming Starlight chronicles my journey from death and despair to being held, cocooned within, and becoming one with the Presence that lives in Starlight-God Himself.
I wrote Becoming Starlight for two reasons. By way of explanation, I work with seriously ill, terminal patients and their families. The question they ask more than any other is “Should I be afraid?” I understand that question on such an intimate level because that is the very question that burned a hole in my Soul but one I didn’t have the courage to ask or, quite possibly one I didn’t want to become vulnerable to! When confronted with a life-altering diagnosis, even the strongest and most fearless among us doesn’t know how to face that worst of all trauma and the darkest of all emotion in life. The fear of abandonment by God, the fear of leaving your family, the fear of falling into nothingness, the fear of losing yourself to the darkness and to the unknown—your gut responds, your jaw drops, and the true nature of your humanity emerges: mortality and you fall. It’s a shattering loss that causes previously unknown fear and anxiety to blot out all other emotion.
I wrote Becoming Starlight for them. For years, I have told all my patients about my Starlight night (my SDE) in an effort to dispel some of the fear. When that question is asked, as it always is, I take each one of them in my arms, hold them tightly, and tell them my story of great loss and despair and the eventual renewal within God’s presence. Giving them part of my Starlight night in hopes they will understand that they are part of all creation; part of something they do not fully understand; part of something so much bigger than themselves; something they cannot see or hear or touch or even imagine; that they are part of God himself; a part of the permanence of all Creation—to dispel the fear of losing themselves to the nothingness of the darkness is something I try to bring to them as I tell them about the light of God that I was taken into. They have all asked me to “write it down, tell the story” so they could have access to my words when we weren’t together. So I did.
The second reason, and by far, the single most important reason for the existence of this book is this: the loves of my life mattered and their story was one that needed to be told.

Q: What do you hope readers will get from this book?


A: There really is only one empowering lesson in Becoming Starlight. But that lesson is multi-faceted. It involves accepting something that none of us wants to accept—that life and death go hand in hand. It involves acceptance, surrender, faith, hope, and an understanding of those things that all of us seek to understand but never fully do understand except from the standpoint of belief in the fact that we are never alone; that we are never separated from the all-loving and all-consuming mercy of the One Who formed us from His very thoughts; that we are all connected, one to the other, by the mere fact that we exist in this universe; and that, above all else, nothing you could ever do could separate you from the love of God. And while we may laugh or cry or shout or rage at the heavens, it matters not how far into the muck you have face planted. You can rise and thrive. Going “through it all” instead of “rising above it” leads you to your victory or at least to a peace that can be life affirming.

Q: How did you come up with the title of your book?


A: The title, Becoming Starlight, was then, is now, and will always be the only title ever considered for my book. Why? Because that is exactly what happened. I didn’t need to search or agonize or go looking anywhere else for the title, and I wouldn’t listen to or consider any other title that was presented to me. Why? Because, once again, I had to be true to the story. I wrote Becoming Starlight for a purpose—to tell a story of a complete fall from Grace, a total and utter loss of faith, a human condition that involved agonizing grief and despair and a need for revenge against life itself and the eventual renewal and life affirming peace that came within a Blessing from Creation Itself. As the Stars came to “collect” me at the moment of my husband’s death, I found myself in the very Presence of God, all within and of Starlight. 

Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?


A: Writing Becoming Starlight was truly a labor of love for me. At the same time, it was one of the most tremendously difficult tasks I have ever assigned myself. When I decided to write this book, I mistakenly thought I would be able to put all emotion aside and just write. Just pick up my computer and start writing. I found out very quickly that my thought process was completely and utterly flawed. Not only did I find it almost impossible to start writing but, once I did get started, I soon found that finishing the book, in its entirety, was going to be almost as difficult. Having to recount the most horrendous events in my life, having to actually put them down on paper, having to relive each and every thought, emotion, and moment of those extremely life altering events—well, let’s just say Becoming Starlight almost didn’t “become.”
Here’s what I found . . . writing this book became my very own daily dose of therapy. In my practice, I tell all my patients to journal because there’s something about writing it down that gets it out of the soul. Issues that remain hidden away from the sunlight become dark and dank so putting it “all” out there where the light can get at it, dispels the darkness. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Sure does, but the reality is quite different. It isn’t easy to pull those memories out of spirit, those memories that are marked with “Danger: Do Not Open.”  And that is exactly what I did to myself when I took on this project. I had to open up those “Danger: Do Not Open” portals, and I was even surprised at myself for being so fearful to actually get in there and rip them open. The guards at the gates of these portals are fearsome indeed and getting past them took so much strength and courage that I didn’t even know I possessed. Writing this book, telling this story meant re-living the deaths of two people I carry within my soul always, and that was one of the most difficult tasks I have ever encountered in my life.

Q: If you had a swear jar, would it be full?


A: Full to brimming and in need of emptying every day! As a psychologist, I am privy to some of the most unflattering, selfish, insane, mixed up, tangled up, and downright squirrelly conversations anyone could ever imagine—and I am supposed to straighten them all out! At least, that’s what patients think when they walk through my door. They quickly find out that the only person who can fix their issues is themselves. It takes hard work to get deep down into the recesses of the “no-go zones” of the spirit, and I am a very hard task-master. I will not take “no” for an answer when someone’s life is on the line, and I will dig and peel away at the portals of pain until they open wide and say, “enough already!”  You wanna talk about swear jars? I have words that I didn’t even know existed tucked away in those jars! Words for bodily functions that, to this day, I don’t think were ever used in any other conversation anywhere else. Made up words that were, well, let’s just say my patients have great imaginations. I have learned them all and kept some for my own use.

Q: Are you an introvert or an extrovert?


A: Actually both! I am introverted in situations where all I want to do is watch and listen. I am a perpetual people-watcher and listener and, as such, I stay in the background in social situations where I feel the need to “see” and “feel” the environment. I choose very carefully where and when I decide to participate in any situation and will very quickly say “No” to something I simply do not want to do. I would much rather stay home with a good book or watch chick flicks and eat Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars all night. I just seriously love my alone time.
But, at the same time, if there is something I really want to do, I will be smack dab in the middle of it all. I choose very carefully who I share my life with and those chosen to be in my inner circle are very special to me. Being with those who are real and true to themselves and to others, and to those who are never false or full of pretense—that is where you will find me laughing and playing and enjoying life to the utmost! Those closest to me are privy to “the real me” in all my incarnations.

Q: What's your favorite snack for movie night?


A: I’m such a chocoholic . . . an entire bag of the stuff doesn’t last 15 minutes with me! I’m seriously addicted. So, for movie night, it’s a line-up of Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars (yes, that’s plural), a bag of Goldenberg Peanut Chews (yummy little nuggets of heaven), some popcorn and, just for health’s cake, a monstrous glass of water filled with lemon slices.

Q: What is the most daring thing you've done?


A: Well, to tell the truth, I don’t know if this was the most daring thing I have ever done or the most stupid! We lived in Memphis, Tennessee for many years and, as almost every person knows, Elvis Presley lived in Memphis at Graceland, his home for many years. One night, many years ago, my sister-in-law and I decided we wanted to go “visit” Elvis. We actually drove to Graceland and told the guard at the gate that we “were here to see Elvis.” Naturally, he very politely told us to vacate the premises. We did, indeed, vacate the premises . . . but only the premises around the gate where he kept watch. We parked our car around the back of the house and proceeded to climb up and over the huge stone barrier that surrounded the property, then ran like crazy people up to the front of the house. We actually made it up to the front door when, what did we hear? Not the hoofs of reindeer on the roof but that of dogs barking . . . great big dogs barking loudly . . . and headed straight for us! Well, needless to say, I didn’t know I could run as fast or jump as high as I did that night, but we left Graceland intact . . . no dog bites and no police with handcuffs. Was it worth it? You bet your life it was worth it! Would I do it again?  Only if the ghost of Elvis was reported as being on the premises.

Q: How long did it take you to write this book?


A: It took me three years to complete Becoming Starlight. It was a very difficult book to write. Reliving the most horrendous moments of my life, pulling them out and having to look them square in the face, that took me some time. As a matter of fact, the version that is now “the book” is actually the fourth incarnation of Becoming Starlight. The first two versions were simply nothing less than a horrific outpouring of emotion that I didn’t even know I still harbored in my soul. And the chapter about my daughter’s death took me a full six months to write. I would start and stop . . .  sob . . .  start and stop . . .  and sob again.  That one chapter is the very reason the audio of Becoming Starlight is narrated by an amazing woman named Gabrielle Du Cuir . . .  I couldn’t read the chapter without my throat closing. I still can’t!

Q: How long have you been writing, and how did you start?


A: Becoming Starlight
is my first published book. I’ve been writing for years but only for myself. The only other writing I’ve ever had published is an article I wrote in high school about loneliness in teenagers and an “almost published” poem that I wrote for another student who hadn’t done his homework. Imagine our surprise when the English teacher told him she wanted to send the poem to Reader’s Digest for publication in their magazine column “Up and Comers in High School” . . . try explaining to a high school English teacher that you cheated with another student. Needless to say, that poem wasn’t sent anywhere except to the principal’s office, along with the two of us!

Q: Where do you prefer to do your writing?


A: Now that seemed as if it was going to be a challenge! Everyone had their own idea of exactly how and where I needed to be and what I needed to do . . . none of them worked for me.  So figuring it out for myself was something I needed to do.
Contrary to what everyone else told me, I found that I didn’t need to change my physical environment . . . instead, I embraced it. The old Lazy Boy recliner that had been my dad’s “home base” before his death became my sacred space. I felt safe and peaceful there in that chair. It became my home, my sanctuary.  My body just seemed to conform to the indentations that had, for years, become its very nature, and I felt as if it “knew” me. I didn’t feel the need to have a totally private, quiet, locked away space that had no recognition of me and the joys and sorrows of my life. It was there, on my dad’s well-loved recliner that Becoming Starlight was birthed. That silly old recliner, worn and old, an extremely ugly faded-out green color is now my go-to place for writing. Matter of fact, I’m sitting in it at this moment!

Q: What’s one of your favorite quotes?


A: Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” If we all could just accept the fact that we cannot change anyone else, life would be a piece of chocolate cake with whipped cream and cherries on top.
How many times have you said to yourself, “He/she will change if I do this or that . . . or he/she will change if I say this or that . . . or he/she will love me enough to change once they understand.”  Those rose-colored glasses everyone puts on when they don’t want to truly “see” that change is not forthcoming, they need to be cleaned with an entire bottle of Windex and some powerful wipes! Having said that, change is possible but only if the person wants it for themselves. Just because you may have an “issue” with certain behaviors doesn’t mean they have to agree with you. Remember that.
There’s no trick here. You must decide what you will accept. What behaviors, belief systems, opinions, lifestyles, etc., you are willing to accept into your life. It’s not your job to change those that you allow into your life. It’s your job to decide who you let in, just as they are! You have no right to complain about or fall victim to those you allowed in, all the while thinking, “I can change them.”  Short of abuse that is well-hidden beforehand—you are responsible for “seeing” what you are being shown by everyone who crosses your path. 

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?


A: My passions lie with my family. The two-footed kind and the four-footers. The furry ones, the feathered ones, the scaled ones, the finned ones, and everything in between. My home is a menagerie of sorts and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
We are very dedicated animal rescue enthusiasts. And this dedication is not just for what we know as “companion” animals but also for what we, as a nation, deem as “farmed” animals. Recently, we adopted a baby calf, a steer named Miles who was rescued from a slaughter truck. He was exactly one day old when he was separated from his mother and thrown into a slaughter truck. The lack of compassion and respect for the sentient beings we share our planet with is in dire need of radical change! I try every day to change the minds and hearts of those who don’t see or want to acknowledge the cruelty and abuse that exists throughout the system in play today. To be a role model for others to develop an awareness and compassion for these sentient beings by not eating them, wearing them, or using them in any capacity is something I live every day. I hope this is seen and copied by those who are willing to “see.”  
When not writing or taking care of my “human” patients, you can find me with hair clipped to the top of my head, wearing rubber boots and heavy gloves to lift the bales of hay to feed my brood or providing huge bottles of milk to rescued farm babes or feeding my fish outside in the Koi pond or playing with my birds of every color and description imaginable or simply lounging somewhere on my beach. It’s all about living . . . not merely existing!

Q: How long is your to-do list?


A: Well, now that I have answered your questions, I can check off one more item! Seriously, I don’t live by a to-do list. I find those lists just too confining. There are so many wonderful things to see, places to go, events to be experienced, and people to bring love into our lives that getting bogged down to some arbitrary “to-do list” just doesn’t fit into my lifestyle. It’s more of a “don’t-do” list for me! Don’t be selfish. Don’t be prideful. Don’t be or bring harm to any living sentient being. Don’t gossip. Don’t abuse. Don’t compare. And, above all, don’t forget to love . . . and that includes loving yourself. See, now doesn’t that work better?












Dr. Sharon Prentice is a psychotherapist and spiritual counselor whose work focuses on helping patients process the grief of losing a loved one. Becoming Starlight is her memoir of healing from the devastating loss of her daughter and husband. She experienced a unique spiritual experience, known as a Shared Death Experience (SDE) which gave her a peek into foreverness and a sense of peace that was otherworldly.


Connect with Sharon:
Website  |  Blog Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads  |  Instagram


Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

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