A few months ago, my family asked me to put together a book for our company’s 38th anniversary. After months of relentless work and preparation, I am delighted to share that Turning the Page: A Collection of Letters, Stories, Prayers and Poems on Love and Loss is now available.
The book includes heartwarming entries from Boy Abunda, Joey Albert, Cathy Babao, Toff De Venecia, Jayjay and Feliz Lucas, Boots Anson Roa-Rodrigo, Ali Sotto, the family of AJ Perez, and many more. Copies of the book are available at PHP 500 each, the proceeds of which will be donated to public hospitals in need of personal protective equipment and sustenance for frontliners. Buyers may also opt to donate more than the retail price when purchasing the book. For more information, you may send me a private message or contact Arlington Memorial Chapels.
Sharing the foreword I wrote for the book:
When you work for a funeral home, you see grief in every way, shape and form.
Prior to pursuing a career in theater and marketing, I worked as a full-time sales executive and a certified memorial celebrant for Arlington. In the five years I worked for the family business, I met and served families of various backgrounds, each one bringing a profoundly personal experience of loss and grief.
I have seen grown men drop to their knees and wail before a casket. I have seen parents bury their children and bargain for a different nightmare. I have witnessed the most tragic of deaths: an entire family lost in a fire that gutted their home; a graduating student who simply dozed off and lost control on the road; even people who felt the weight of the world on their shoulders and decided to end it all with a single step or trigger.
Putting this book together brought me back to those years of sharing in a family’s grief and of attempting to restore a semblance of order and normalcy. In collating and editing these entries, I was reminded of my own experience of grief. When we lost my “medium dragon” Tita Ting last year, the stages of grief didn’t come to me in order. They came to me in waves.
Grief demands to be felt and it certainly doesn’t come with a manual.
Today, the world continues to mourn in unprecedented ways: the kind where grief has to be had from a distance. Imagine the agony of losing a loved one and being robbed of the right to hold them, let alone see them one last time. Families must now grieve in painful isolation—without a funeral to honor their loved one or a memorial for people to share in their grief and sorrow. As the world continues to turn (and it will continue to do so, long after this pandemic), we shall once again gather as a community, take comfort in each other’s arms, and honor those who have passed on.
Putting this book together, albeit in the face of a pandemic, has allowed me to take stock of what truly matters and what ultimately binds us all. It has given me the gift of perspective. For every story told in this book—each loss unique to the experience of the individual or family—there lies a common thread that ties everything together: love.
Just as love is a universal language, so too is grief. Grief is a collective war, one that says that we have loved and we have lost—and it was well worth the fight.
Grief isn’t always spoken but when it is, it is enough to make the heart break and sing at the same time. When grief speaks, the words and stories are much too beautiful to be left unsaid. As you will find in this book, there are stories of love and loss, letters across space and time, prayers to dull the ache and even poetry to keep our loved ones alive in imagery.
In my work as a memorial celebrant or host, I often begin each service by reminding guests that the journey of grief is a long and winding road, and no one should ever have to walk it alone. My hope is this that this book serves as a similar reminder—a reminder that you are never alone in your grief. May it provide comfort when your homes feel empty; hope when the world seems still; and light when the debilitating sorrow rears its ugly head.
As you turn each page, may you look forward to the stories that have yet to be told and the chapters that have yet to be lived. Keep in mind that when a life ends, a legacy ultimately begins.
Editor-in-Chief and Project Coordinator
Turning the Page: A Collection of Letters, Stories, Prayers and Poems on Love and Loss