Erin Davis, one of Toronto’s best-loved media personalities, has written a powerful book called Mourning Has Broken about coping with grief, after she received the shattering news her 24 year-old daughter had died in her sleep.
On May 11, 2015, just before 6 a.m. Davis was preparing to do her radio show, when she and her husband got the call she says “destroyed us, for a time.”
Lauren Davis had gone to sleep and not woken up, dying of unknown causes.
As well as experiencing the trauma of losing a child, as a public figure, Davis had to contend with the media interest in her daughter’s death and her reaction to it.
Lauren was well known to Davis’ audience. Her impending birth had been announced on air and Davis spent the first three months after it hosting her radio show from home. Lauren had grown up in the public eye, appearing with her mum on radio and television as a child, before pursuing her own fledgling radio career.
But now Lauren had inexplicably died, leaving behind a husband and eight-month-old baby.
Four years later, now living in North Saanich, Davis describes her new home as being, “Like a dream. So soothing and a wonderful place to heal.”
Part memoir, part how-to, Davis says the book charts “how to reclaim joy and find meaning in your life, keep going and prove you can survive the worst thing to happen to a parent or a loved one, especially when it is your only child.”
Davis says the book gives advice, in the often unfamiliar landscape of other people’s grief.
“One of the strongest messages I have is don’t be afraid to say their name. Don’t be afraid of destroying the person who is grieving, because they’re already destroyed. So go ahead, tell them how the person who is gone affected them, how they made them laugh, why they are special. That can mean the world to someone who is missing such an immense part of their lives and their heart.”
Davis says she and her husband Rob drew strength from reading Facebook posts about Lauren from her friends and co-workers. Lauren’s story also touched musicians Olivia Newton-John, Amy Sky and Beth Neilsen Chapman, who were listening to the radio on the morning her death was announced. They wrote a song called My Heart Goes Out To You in tribute. Davis heard them perform it in Seattle and Newton-John provides the foreword for the book.
Davis is a seasoned writer, scribing a blog since 2003 that attracts 2,000 readers a day. She says writing Mourning Has Broken was painful and not at all cathartic, but she has been touched by readers’ reactions who have described it as heartfelt, inspirational and, in some parts, funny.
A poem, written on Lauren’s son’s first birthday, five months after her death, is included in the book. “Say her name,” was written after Davis realized no one was mentioning Lauren’s name during the subdued celebrations, for fear of causing each other pain.
In Sidney’s Iroquois Park, there is now a bench dedicated to Lauren called A Mother’s Rest: Dream a little dream of me.
Signed copies of Mourning Has Broken can be bought in Tanner’s, Boleyn Books, Munro’s Books, Chapters Indigo Mayfair or at HarperCollins.ca.