Book Summary

Written in Water may alter the way you look at love and death. Almost certainly, it will alter the way you look at grieving. And it may even alter your perceptions of ordinary reality. When veteran journalist Carol Flake Chapman loses her husband suddenly in a kayaking accident on a remote Guatemalan river, she is thrust without warning into a time of grief and shock. But in her altered state, she soon realizes that grief has opened the doors to possibilities of consolation that she could never have imagined. Her time of grieving becomes a kind of improvised pilgrimage that takes her around the world in a journey of discovery, as she explores who her peaceful-warrior husband really was and what her place might be in the world without him.

Along the way, she encounters what she comes to think of as “necessary angels”—people who appear at the right place at the right time with the right words or acts of comfort. She travels into the “thin places”—the places where the boundaries between heaven and earth, between reality and dream, become permeable. She introduces the concept of “Slow Grief,” of a way of grieving that embraces life and that takes comfort in all its small and large miracles. Even technology becomes a means of healing. And in her encounters with the natural world, she finds not only connection and healing, but also a threshold of transformation. As she writes, “the invisible gossamer threads of connection became visible.” And always there is music, some of it coming from what she calls the “cosmic playlist”—songs that deliver timely messages of comfort and meaning.

She recounts in raw, moving and often riveting detail the small indignities, the bottomless sorrows and transcendent moments that come with death and the pursuit of healing.

Written in Water Prologue, read by author, Carol Flake Chapman.