For anyone who ever has lost a loved one, especially if the grief is recent, For the Love of Robert… A Mother’s Struggle with the Illusion of Separation, is a book which may help to ease some of the pain.
There is comfort, anger, humor and love in the story told by Harriet Tomlinson Hill of Raleigh, NC, about the loss of her 15-year-old son, Robert. The closeness of her family and friends are evident, and the support afforded all of them through their faith is definitive and inspirational.
First published in 1995, For the Love of Robert was written by Harriet Hill, a North Carolina Episcopalian and mother who lost her 15-year-old son in 1990, following his tragic accident with a knife. The book basically tells the story of the way that one family deals with grief and loss in a healthy way. Those who have sustained such a loss can find real comfort in this mother’s story of how a broken heart mends.
One of the remarkable things about the book is that Harriet Hill refuses to dwell on the negative and feel sorry for herself. She deals with her grief directly. She is as human as any other mother who hurts, grieves, cries and even gets angry at God – working her way through the many stages and forms of grief. But it is her belief in hope and in God’s unfailing love that is the underlying theme throughout the book. She never, even in the darkest and most difficult moments, feels abandoned by God.
Mrs. Hill compares the loss of her son and the consequent period of grieving to a book: “And I shall put that book on a shelf nearby so that I can love it often, but I imagine that time will afford me more occasions when that book will need dusting.”
She also offers suggestions: “I hope that those who read these words will find one small reflection that will enhance their lives and assist them in consoling others.” The book is full of small acts of kindness that were meaningful to the author and could be comforting to those who experience the death of a loved one, especially a child.
“In this little book, grief becomes the soil for the flowering of an honest, straightforward healing. Those who have experienced this sort of loss, and those who will, can find real comfort in this mother’s story of how broken hearts mend.”
—Roy Parker, Jr., Fayetteville Observer-times, 1996.
“Her thoughts and comments are filled with her references to God and to his plan for Robert. And, even while she tells of the horror she experienced during his last days, she brings humor into the picture, telling of her memories and of events of those days. . . . her writing gives tremendous insight into her thought processes as she struggled with the fact that her son died. But reviewers consistently recommend the book to others grieving the loss of a child.”
—Joan D. Greene, The News-Times, Carteret County, NC
“Ms. Hill is not a professional writer. Her brief 113-page account cannot, and should not, be compared with such classics as C. S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed or John Gunther’s Death Be Not Proud. Instead, her story’s greatest strength lies in how ordinary it is: how everyday, picayune details continued to crowd in, in the midst of tragedy. The loss of a child, an Irish bard once said, is the heart’s needle. Harriet Hill felt it, but shows how she found the strength to go on.”
—Ben Steelman, Wilmington Star-News, Wilmington, NC
In a review in the North Carolina Asheville Citizen-Times, Carole Currie incorporated a quote from the author: “There is no need to remind me that I have two healthy, vibrant sons and a loving husband. Nor can I fully understand the feelings of someone else going through a tragedy, for we all come from, live in and go toward different paths. Robert did not pass away so that good things could happen, but because he did, value has been added to many lives.”
“Although some might feel that Hill occasionally crosses over into sentimentality, she never asks the reader to take on her losses, just to hear her out. Her prose style is honest and direct. The author explains, ‘Just when I feel I can’t continue the promotions, a mother calls me. She read about the book in the Richmond paper. Her nine-year-old child was killed in a car accident. She was driving. They slid on ice on the way to school. Her heart is broken. I talk with her. I send her a book and I say to myself, that’s why I’m still trying to sell For the Love of Robert. Being there for people is part of being the author of this book.'”
—Maudy Benz, The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
On the Southern Best Sellers list: The Oxford American, Oxford, MS
“A vivid description of the grief experience, this story provides insight into the power of spiritual strength and family closeness. Other grieving parents will resonate with the author’s feelings.”
—Julia G. Allen, M.S.W., C.C.S.W
“This is the rarest and most true to life expression of grief I have ever read. It can be a tremendous help to people.”
—Clara Cox Wellons, mother of Bryant Wellons, 1972-1989
“For the Love of Robert left me with a sense that this family experienced a healthy grief. As difficult as their loss was, hope resounds in Harriet Hill’s words.”
—Susan P. Rouse, Hospice of Wake County, NC
“Mrs. Hill’s writing style is captivating, honest and real. Her book will empower others facing the loss of a loved one.”
—Toni James-Manus, M.Ed., M.P.H., Children’s Program Hospice of Wake County, NC