By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – Beth M. Whitman of Westborough grieved the loss of three loved ones within five years. Her story of loss and renewal is chronicled in the memoir “Bouncing Back: Recreate Your Life.”
On a Sunday morning in 2006, Whitman spoke with her mother by phone about driving her parents to Florida in their car. Later that day, Whitman got a call from her parents’ neighbor, informing her that her mother collapsed while cleaning the car and was rushed to the hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, Whitman was shocked to learn that her mother suffered a heart attack and passed away.
“She was the caregiver all my life,” Whitman noted. “Caregivers are the ones you have to worry about. They’re so busy with everyone else’s health that they’re totally neglecting their own, or not letting anyone know. It really bothers me that we didn’t see any warning signals and let her hide a lot of things from us.”
After her mother’s funeral service, Whitman asked her rabbi if he could recommend books about grieving the loss of a mother. Instead, he advised that she and her sisters focus on caring for their father.
“My mom and dad were married for 50 years and she did everything for him,” Whitman said.
A flexible work schedule at the time allowed her to spend most of a month at his home.
In July 2004, Whitman’s husband, Steve, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She became concerned when he neglected to follow the recommended diet guidelines or regularly test his blood sugar level. In April 2009, he suffered a heart attack and passed away.
“The hardest thing for me that day was calling his parents,” she acknowledged. “At the funeral, there were 600 people at the temple. It was a very moving service. Steve was very involved with music, and a few of the musicians that he was close with were a part of the ceremony. I kept thinking he would have loved the ceremony because the music is incredible.”
After her mother passed away, her father’s health deteriorated and he ultimately moved into an assisted-living facility. In time, he participated less in the facility’s activities. He passed away in January 2011.
“My dad was always social and I saw his will to live deteriorate over the years,” Whitman shared. “I felt like he chose his time to die. And I felt much better that it was his decision versus him suffering years and years at a nursing home and getting worse and worse.”
Whitman believes that she learned a valuable lesson from having three loved ones pass away within five years.
“Spend quality time with them when you can,” she advised. “I didn’t visit them as much as I could have. My parents lived in Andover and I live in Westborough. I didn’t take advantage of having them practically around the corner.”
Within the past few years, Whitman has strived to recreate her life. She earned her master’s degree in leadership at Northeastern University in 2012 and married her husband, Mike, in 2013. In 2015, she completed training as a health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The training featured a seminar with courses including Launch Your Book.
“I thought I should write a book about having the resiliency to bounce back,” Whitman explained.
On Saturday, Feb. 27, Whitman will discuss “Bouncing Back: Recreate Your Life” at 1 p.m. in the Event Room of Tatnuck Bookseller, Gift Gallery & Café, located at 18 Lyman St. in Westborough. Afterward, she’ll be available for questions, and a meet and greet through 3 p.m.