Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child

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“If you have lost a child, you know you’re weathering the largest storm life can bring you. I hope that my words of loss, tears, punches, smiles, friendships, and renewed happiness can give you a sense of not being along on this journey.”

About Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child

“If you have lost a child, you know you’re weathering the largest storm life can bring you. I hope that my words of loss, tears, punches, smiles, friendships, and renewed happiness can give you a sense of not being along on this journey.”

Maria Hopfgarten’s son Jacob was born on January 31, 2006. He was the most perfect baby boy she had ever seen. But Jacob had devastating health issues, culminating in a diagnosis of mitochondrial disease, a fatal condition.

In the ten short years of Jacob’s life, Maria found strength in blogging about Jacob’s life. Her raw, honest posts from the year after Jacob’s passing have been gathered into this book along with Maria’s tips for parents coping with their own grief after losing a child.

My Thoughts

I am an incredibly sensitive and emotional person, and while I couldn’t put this book down – my boys found me two mornings in a row crying as I was reading this very powerful book.

I love working with children – they have such an innocence and beautiful way of seeing the world. I worked in Family Medicine for ten years and working with children during this time was a blessing to me, hearing that first heart beat, or watching a child grow at their well child visits, holding their hand when they were scared during stitches or listening to their stories of how they broke their arm. It felt a privilege to be a part of their live for that small moment in time and that they trusted you with these feelings. So often, we can get so caught up in ‘life’ that we forget what a special gift life actually is. And how quickly things can change and be taken away from us.

While I cannot comment on this book from a grieving parent viewpoint, as a parent I can tell you how this book made me feel. I don’t think any parent is ready for a diagnosis that will change their child’s life and their own life as they know it. We take for granted good health and the dreams that we have for our children. Grief is so overwhelming and powerful, we all experience grief in different ways but it is also one of the hardest things to talk about.

Maria shares in her story how wonderful Jacob was – his sense of humour, his relationships with his sister and peers, his time spent at school, his trip to Disney all in the context of his health conditions that ultimately led to his passing. I loved how she shared these intimate details that I am sure were difficult to share but so important, too often we see the patient as a patient and not for the incredible, strong person that they are. It was special reading the beautiful stories of Jacob, his sister, family and the impact he had on those around him in his ten years.

From the very beginning of the story, Maria shared the importance of living and cherishing each moment. I find I am very guilty of not always being present, especially in these last two years dealing with COVID and my own mental health. It is something that personally touched me, the importance of slowing down and living in each and every moment. While Maria may have had to live in each moment due to how quickly things could change for Jacob, this is so important for all to take a step back and use as a guide. I appreciated the personal guidance and tips that Maria shared at the end of each entry for parents as they struggle to cope with their grief and the things that helped her and her family. Maria did not encourage a one size fits all approach, instead she offered several solutions that aided her and offered suggestions on what others could do.

This is an incredibly touching and powerful story of love, grief and how one family has coped with the passing of a very special young man. While a great support book for grieving parents, I think this would be a great book for parents to read as well.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Maria Hopfgarten began her blog Moments with Jacob in 2009, writing about Jacob’s life with mitochondrial disease. She had followers around the globe. Maria continued to write blog posts to Jacob after he passed in 2016 to make sense of the loss of her son. Jacob was 10 years old. She has now turned part of the blog into the book “Letters to Jacob,” sharing her raw, honest first-hand experience on grieving the loss of a child.

Maria is the President of the non-profit Miracles for Mito and has been supporting families living with mitochondrial disease for over a decade. She has also been an active Parent Partner at Children’s Hospital Colorado and has been a Parent voice for many chronically ill children. Maria also sits on the Patient Safety Committee of the Board at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Originally from Sweden and with a degree in Journalism from Stockholm University, Maria lives with her husband Joakim, daughter Sarah, and rescue dog Max in Colorado. Her favorite thing to do is to share a good cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend. Maria loves the outdoor and is always up for a bike ride or hike.

You can connect with her on her website, Facebook and Instagram.

The Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child here.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed are my own.

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Maria Hopfgarten
29 days ago

Thank you so much for the positive review. I love how you would also recommend it to other parents. I also appreciate your thoughts on living in the moment. I know I forget that myself sometimes today. I so appreciate you sharing in Jacob’s story! Sincere thanks, Maria.

Maria Susanne Hopfgarten

Thank you for this sincere review and that you also recommend this book to any parents. Please know I also forget to live in the moment. It’s an important reminder to us all. Thanks for taking the time reading Letters to Jacob. Love, Maria.

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