Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable, Loss, and Rituals that Heal is the true story of a mother’s fierce love and determination, and her willingness to go outside the bounds of the ordinary when two of her three adult children are diagnosed with life-threatening disease. At a dance workshop, held to address the threat of the pandemic AIDS, the author admits she doesn’t know how to be the mother to her gay son. With the help of women in her spirituality group, she learns to say yes to what life is asking of her son, and of her, as his mother. The author’s best friend, dying of breast cancer, asks the author to accompany her through what turns out to be, fourteen days of her dying, ironically preparing this mother for what lie ahead with her own children. Five years later, the author and her family confront again, a life and death circumstance – her 40-year-old daughter’s diagnosis of breast cancer. When the customary treatments fail, her daughter decides on a bone marrow transplant and the author visits a healer in Brazil on her behalf. Experience as a professional social worker and family therapist doesn’t always help the author to cope, but her familiarity with improvisational song, dance, and storytelling, and women’s spirituality rituals carry her through. The book follows the family through memorials and celebrations of lives well lived, the impact of grief on those left behind, and the rituals that help them heal.
“We have to make art out of what happens to us,” writes Sheila K. Collins.Warrior Mother is a testament to how art-making, done in a sacred context,can transform tremendous loss. Collins reminds us of the endurance andhealing power of love–especially a mother’s love.”
—Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, author of Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir
“Just as love survives death, so too does spirit supplant mere survival. Sheila K. Collins has faced a parent’s worst fears and learned to still dance in their wake. Warrior Mother is a mother’s manual of profound honesty, hope, and healing.”
—Marc Nieson, author of Schoolhouse: A Memoir in 13 Lessons
About the Author: Sheila K. Collins, PhD has been a dancer, social worker, university professor, clinic director, writer, and improvisational performance artist. She currently directs the Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players, an InterPlay-based improvisational performance troupe that assists human service agencies in serving noble purposes in the Pittsburgh community. Sheila has written about the power of play, dance, and the expressive arts in her book, Stillpoint: The Dance of Selfcaring, Selfhealing, a playbook for people who do caring work. Her blog, Dancing With Everything which is on her website, sheilakcollins.com.
AWARDS That Warrior Mother has received
Living Book Award – 2014 – Books That Change People’s Lives – Inspirational Memoir by a female – Silver
Best Book Award 2014 – Finalist in Autobiography/Memoir
Author Zone – 2016 Memoir/Biography category – 1st Place
More Reviews – Warrior Mother
“Her writing is engaging and believable and her story lingers in my mind and reinforces that healing is possible…A story of courage and hope, it is a gift to the world…” National Association of Memoir Writers, Board Member Kathleen Pooler
“Despite these sorrowful events, Collins and her daughter found moments to enjoy and significant wisdom to share; these will be inspirational to any reader, especially to any parent in this situation…” Curled Up With a Good Book, Barbara Bamberger Scott
“Collins writes as if she is sitting with you and telling you the story. She draws you in and the hold keeps the reader turning pages…” AuthorBoundAdvisory Panelist & Maggie Award Winning Editor Gloria Oren
…”the result is this remarkably frank and unexpectedly hopeful memoir…” Story Circle Book Reviews, Sheila Trask
“The most uplifting book I’ve read this year.” The Senior Voice, Barbara Glass
“The story of her daughter’s Christian faith struck a deep chord within me.“My Life. One Story at a Time Donna McBroom-Theriot
“Collins used her dance knowledge to propel herself twice through tragic loss and then shared her tale through this competently yet complex memoir. “Women’s Memoirs, Lanie Tankard
Interview Questions for Radio Shows
- You mention in Warrior Mother, that it’s necessary to find a way to say “yes” to those negative things that happen that we can’t do anything about in life. What did you do to be able to say “yes” to what was happening to you through the illnesses and losses of your children?
- Parenting adult children is a complex challenge. How did your parenting evolve over the lifespan of your children?
- What would you say were some of the gifts that came to you and your family during the difficult times that you write about in Warrior Mother?
- How have the expressive arts, (i.e. dancing, singing, and storytelling), helped you get through the tough times that you write about in Warrior Mother?
- What did you do to take care of yourself while you were accompanying your adult children through their illnesses and treatments? What advice would you have for others care-giving a loved one through a serious illness?
Press Kit for Warrior Mother