When she suddenly lost her sweet husband after only one year of marriage, Amanda Stephens’ world was shaken and devastated. She used her grief by putting pen to paper, and writing her beautiful book Learning to Ride Again. Amanda’s debut book describes the valley of death that she experienced while coping with grief and loss. Learning to Ride Again is a great source of encouragement for women dealing with loss and seeking hope.
Amanda Stephens is a Texan at heart and home, but is also an adventurer, traveling the world. Having written stories and poems since she was a little girl, she now shares her own story to help others and encourage healing in their own stories.
Sonoma Christian Home had the privilege of sitting down with Amanda to hear her story. SCH Editor At Large Dr. Diane Howard reports.
SCH: What is your purpose in writing your book?
AS: I wanted to share my story in hopes that it would connect with others navigating loss and provide comfort and hope. I wanted to assure those dealing with grief that it takes time to heal. My prayer is that readers will be encouraged in their faith in a God who is patient, gentle and willing to connect with us in the deepest places.
SCH: How did you initially deal with this sudden great loss?
AS: Well, initially I dove deeply back into work. It was a busy season for me professionally, and work seemed like something I could control when so much of my life spun out of it control. In retrospect, I think the distraction of work was helpful at times, but I also recognized a tendency to overextend in an effort to appear “normal”.
I did, however, determine to let myself walk out my grief – whatever that ended up looking like. I did not put time limits on myself. I needed to function, but in private, I allowed myself to respond to my feelings. Life was upside down. At times, I felt paralyzed. Thankfully, I had people in my life with whom I could be raw. They were safe places.
SCH: What steps did you take to begin to recover?
AS: My faith was my anchor. I experienced a sweeter, deeper relationship with the Lord and a tangible sense of heaven the first year. My faith discovered a new dimension, and I felt the Lord guide me like a gentleman through the stages, never leaving my side. The recovery process has been difficult but precious because of this renewed companionship. I also gave myself the freedom to listen to my heart, to let go when it was time.
SCH: What have you learned about dealing with loss?
AS: There is an unstated societal pressure to get past it, but in the heart of every mourner, there is a need to connect and feel validated in grief. We need hope and the promise that God is loving, gentle and patient.
SCH: What do you recommend to those who are dealing with loss?
AS: Give yourself grace and give others grace. It takes time to find your footing, but you will, so allow yourself the time for the journey. Also, extend grace to others who may not always know how to comfort you and in fact may botch it up horribly. I’ve learned for the most part people sincerely want to help; they just don’t know how. Give them grace and opportunities to love you through your loss.
SCH: What would you recommend to caregivers who are helping loved ones deal with loss?
AS: Caregivers and comfort givers need to give quiet, available, lasting grace. (Yes, grace is a major theme.) There is a mutual gift of deep connection with those grieving and those connecting with their grief. Caregivers need to be okay with the reality that recovering from grief can take time and communicate to the mourner that they are in it for the long haul.
SCH: How has your book helped others?
AS: A woman recently wrote me and shared, “I found my pain on so many pages, feelings stuck inside with nowhere to go except through the tears that were falling. You inspired me to not just let the anger and pain run its course but to explore, breathe and remember.” I praise God for that and am humbled that He is loving His children through this story. The book resonates with a range of people in various stages of grief, suffering from different forms of loss from death to divorce. I love that others feel inspired to learn to ride again!
Amanda Stephens grew up in South Texas and though a world traveler, keeps Texas her home. As a young girl, she wrote to pen imaginary stories and dreams. As a woman, she writes to tell her own and offer hope from a place of personal healing. She currently resides in Salado. Visit Learning to Ride Again for more information about the book and to connect with Amanda.
To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard