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You know someone, who has never told you this

Author: Alyssa Hogan
24 March 2017

'I Left Through the Garden Tree' is a book by author Alyssa Hogan for people facing anticipatory grief or who have lost a loved one. It is written from the point of view of a 12 year-old who is 'sending letters' from heaven, but it is not just for children.

Their car was suddenly filled with the smell of their Nana’s favorite hairspray, as they drove home from her funeral.

They can call their child, long passed, to their side any time they walk in nature (she likes to visit as a hair twirling breeze).

My book, 'I Left through the Garden Tree,' is a letter from heaven, from a girl who still visits earth. The idea came to me after an article I read last summer. The article was about Boston Children’s Hospital, and their plans to bulldoze Prouty Garden, often called the 'soul' of the hospital by visitors and staff. The garden had a magical looking tree, countless flowers, whimsical animal statues, and a playful fountain.

It was so unfair.

For decades parents had taken their children to Prouty Garden to play, and to pass away. They wanted the last sounds their child heard, to be early evening crickets- not beeps. They wanted their baby, who’d never live a day outside the hospital’s walls, to have their last breaths be of moist garden air, and their little noses filled with the smell of summer roses. They didn’t want their child to pass away lying on starchy sheets, but on cool grass, as they watched clouds slowly slide across the sky.   

Many parents protested the hospital’s plans. They felt a space should be kept for the children who’d pass away there, and that replacing the garden with buildings (to help children who still had a chance), was unfair. Why did the two groups have to compete?

They lost. The garden is gone, along with that magical tree.  

The book 'I Left through the Garden Tree,' started as a prayer for families, a way to help bring peace to their child’s passing (one that couldn’t be bulldozed). Then it grew into a story within an art journal. I also added a therapy element to the story itself (the belly breathing the character does, is a relaxation response technique).

The book will have spaces for readers to add their own drawings of the story’s three-handed clock faces, the visiting swings, sky dolphins, Past Pets Park, and of their own Heaven Shop. The book will also be a journal, a place to capture precious talks and memories.   

I really thought I had written a children’s book. However, once I showed it to friends, they told me stories I’d never heard, stories of loved ones who’d passed away visiting them. That’s why I now feel the book isn’t just for children. Even though the story is told by a 12 year-old 'writing' from heaven, I know it’s going to help people of all ages.

The book is currently crowdfunding on Inkshares. Since Inkshares will only publish books they know people want to buy, “I Left through the Garden Tree” has to reach at least 750 pre-orders to be published and placed on bookshelves (you can read the whole book, and pre-order it on Inkshares).

If this book is published, my dream is to host free art & writing based healing events at hospices and hospitals. The goal of the events would be to help people get their feelings out, to find their own way to personal peace. The healing events will be for patients, their families, and the healthcare staff (who see so much).  

However, I wanted a way to offer healing activities right now. So I created the website Healing with Fiction. The site’s Healing Blog starts March 25, and will have different art and writing based activities.                        

My dream is that “I Left through the Garden Tree” is published, so it can find it’s  way to people facing anticipatory grief, and living with loss. In the meantime, I invite you to explore the Healing Blog, and see if it helps you share your feelings, even if it’s only with the sunlight and the page.   

Alyssa is an occupational therapist, with a master’s degree in education. She is the author of “I Left through the Garden Tree,” and creator of the website Healing with Fiction, Write it Out ( email:  

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Comments | 1



I like your book'I Left Through the Garden Tree' is the great book i have ever read it. The content of the story is beautifully written all emotions are expressed clearly in the words you have use it. You are one sharing nice stories books with us. I can spend my most of the time with your site. Thank you

03/06/2017 10:06:42

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