Gold Star Mother Pens Memoir to Honor Son Killed in Action


I saw this article recently in the Boston Herald and wanted to share it, because it illustrates the healing power of life story writing.

... Even for a mother that writes her son's story.

(From Erin Tiernan, the article's author):

'There will be no traditional services, ceremonies or flag gardens to mark Memorial Day and honor American soldiers killed in action, but Gold Star mother Sheila Mitchell-Murphy will honor her “hero” son’s memory this year with a memoir she hopes will help other grieving military families.

“Other Gold Star moms would sometimes reach out to me about how they just don’t know how to express their grief, or how they feel shunned and silenced and that’s why I kept writing,” Mitchell-Murphy said. “What I want the American people to understand is that we need support, regardless of if it’s been 10 or 20 years. I want them to understand that these feelings don’t go away — just like their love for their children. … We’re left with a hole in our heart.”

Her son, Spc. Etienne Murphy, a Brockton native, died in a vehicle rollover during combat on May 26, 2017, five days into his first deployment in Syria. He was 22 years old.

While there are plentiful resources for gold star spouses and children, Mitchell-Murphy said there is a “minimum” for the parents left behind.

“Those are our babies. It cuts us to our core,” she said. “When I lost Etienne — my soul was taken away from me and my soul is in the book,” she said.

A collection of social media posts and letters from the past three years, Michell-Murphy's memoir: "Because You're Not Here," offers a raw and unfiltered window inside the grieving process of a mother learning to cope with the loss of her son.

Murphy left behind his mother, father Calvin, wife Martha and two young children. Mitchell-Murphy said she’s struggled to fill the void and would post on Twitter and Facebook about her feelings — at times garnering backlash.

Daniel Magoon, executive director of the veterans’ group Mass Fallen Heroes said Mitchell-Murphy’s book reveals the “brutal honest truth” of grieving the loss of a child killed in action.

“She is going to help another Gold Star dad or brother or a wife, because they’re going to read it and relate to it,” Magoon said.

His loss is something Mitchell-Murphy said she will never get over and she said she hopes by writing about her grief, she can help other Gold Star families like hers battle their own (bold emphasis mine).

“I want other Gold Star parents to know that I understand them. I’m right there with them. I’m hurting, and I cry with them every day and I pray for all of them, every single day because I feel their pain, and I don’t want them to feel like they’re alone,” Mitchell-Murphy said.'

- - - The life story writing process is a journey of self-understanding, healing and transformation. It benefits the writer, their family/friends, and our society.

And, even though Sheila's primary intention was to help other Gold Star families, I am sure that it benefitted her family and herself as well.

Bless you Shelia Mitchell-Murphy, and your family for doing that.

And, thank you Erin Tiernan for sharing their story.

Do you know a veteran or a Gold Star parent of a vet that would like a free copy of The Life Writer app? If yes, please let me know (Marc DeVincent / [email protected] / 888-501-7325).

Would YOU like to write and share your life story with your family?

You'll be glad you did - and so will they.

Try out The Life Writer app today for free. Here is a link:

And here is a link to Erin's excellent article: 





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