RHINEBECK, N.Y. -- As a minister at Rhinebeck Reformed Church, Luis Perez has seen firsthand the right way and the wrong way to deal with grief.
Perez, a former journalist, decided to turn his observations into his first novel, "Catharsis: Maldonado's Journey Through Grief," which was recently published by Wipf and Stock Publishers.
In the book, grief has led Maldonado to be vulnerable to wrongminded decisions which lead him to prison and a halfway house. As he grapples with his grief, he blames the world and a former business partner who emerged unscathed from a scandal that sent Maldonado fleeing for a decade. The discovery thrusts him on a path of revenge and into the world of church politics. It takes the whims of fate and new friendships for Maldonado to realize the importance of coming in touch with his pain in order to experience redemption.
"The novel is designed to explore the theme of grief," Perez said. "It shows what can happen when we don't acknowledge those feelings. I wanted to give a face to grief and do it in a creative manner."
Perez said, like Maldonado, when we don't grieve in a constructive manner, we are prone to making bad decisions.
"We have to navigate through this process in order to experience breakthroughs," Perez said. "We need to regain our strengths and move forward in life."
The wrong way to handle grief is to blame the word for things that happen to you, Perez said.
"There are things that happen to us that defy comprehension," Perez said. "Trying to rationalize it doesn't do it any good."
The right way to handle grief is to understand that we all experience loss in life and to accept the cyclical nature of life.
"Things are born and things die," Perez said. "We should be grateful for the experiences we had with these people."
It took Perez about five years to write the book and he said he was elated when it got accepted by Wipf and Stock- despite Perez not having a literary agent.
"All the work I had put into the process of putting together this novel finally paid off," Perez said. "It allowed me to get my message out to people."
Perez said he has also enjoyed support from his family and friends.
"They know is this is something I've been thinking about for a while," Perez said. "I'm able to show another side of my personality, deploy my sense of humor and reach different people this way."