Gold Ippy Award Winner!
". . . original and exciting, offering readers a
bold exploration of loss, grief and unexpected
consequences. . . . subtly poetic language . . .
curious and unflinching. . . . an instructive
guidebook for readers confronting their own
losses . . ." —Kirkus Review
Elaine Mansfield’s uplifting story of love, hope,
determination, and triumph is a gift to the half
million women who lose spouses each year.
“I’ll find a way to be all right,” she promised
Vic, her dying husband and best friend of 42
years. Leaving the hospital after he passed, she
had no idea how. In the weeks and months and
years that follow, she learns to lean into her on-
going love. Grief takes her through emotional
and spiritual depths on a journey that builds on
their time together and leads her into new life.
About Elaine Mansfield
Elaine Mansfield is a nutrition, exercise, and
women’s health counselor, longtime student
of Marion Woodman and the Dalai Lama, and
hospice volunteer. She blogs on grief, loss, en-
vironmental issues, and leads hospice classes
on bereavement. See more of her work at
"This is a magnificent, profoundly moving book.
Elaine Mansfield loved her husband Vic so dearly,
there is no way their bond could be eclipsed, or
erased, by his death from cancer. Wisdoms which
proved helpful on their hardest journey are frankly,
generously offered. This rich story gives encourage-
ment and solace to all."
—Naomi Shihab Nye
“Elaine Mansfield knows far more than most people
about love and loss, and she tells it with admirable
honesty and clarity.”
—Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
“Not only a touching and courageous memoir about
love, illness, death, and grief, Elaine Mansfield’s
Leaning into Love is a manual for healing that offers
us the emotional and spiritual tools needed to grow
and even flourish through life’s deepest crises."
—Dale Borglum, Living/Dying Project
“Some books are so original they could only have
been written by one person. This is one of them. If
you want to know what real love looks like, read this
page-turning testament to the exquisite beauty and
tragedy of life, death and rebirth. You won’t come
away unchanged. Mansfield is a masterful storyteller
whose prose is as spare and meaningful as poetry and
whose integrity is as intrepid and inspiring as the most
magnificent heroine or goddess.”
—Jean Benedict Raffa, author, Healing the Sacred
Divide, The Bridge to Wholeness, and Dream Theatres
of the Soul
“A powerful account of the journey of grief.”
—Roshi Joan Halifax, abbot, Upaya Zen Center and
author of Being with Dying
“Elaine Mansfield's book with her extraordinary
husband through sickness, death, and then on to
grief and renewal is heart-breaking and healing
at the same time. It is a spiritual as well as an
emotional journey, a good companion, a beauti-
fully written story of a woman's journey through
—Lama Tsultrim Allione
"Each person’s path through grief is as startlingly
unique as the palm of a loved one’s hand and yet
mythic in its universality. Elaine Mansfield’s testa-
ment of loving and loss lets intimate details and
overarching truths reinforce each other, so that
those of us entering her story find ourselves cross-
ing into the underworld with her. In that land we
find not only helplessness but the courage to learn
new skills; not only inconsolable loneliness but the
steady support of family and community; not only
absence but the love which never leaves. Above all,
we discover with her the life-saving value of kindness.
This is a book which captures the heart from page
one and continues to hold us even when we must put
it down, and so it mirrors the undying connection be-
tween Elaine and her beloved Vic."
—Patricia Campbell Carlson, Gratefulness.org
From Nina Miller, director emeritus of the Nina K.
Miller Hospicare Center in Ithaca, New York:
"I come to Elaine Mansfield’s book with two perspectives:
that of a former hospice director, and as a surviving
spouse of a long and loving marriage. The book is an
honest and sensitive portrayal of Elaine’s journey accom-
panying her husband Vic through the anguish of what turns
out to be an incurable form of cancer.
We know immediately that she is writing this after Vic’s
death; the mystery is not whether he will live, but how
she will survive without him.
The details of the illness and its treatment are unsparing,
but softened by the love and candor that bind this extra-
ordinary couple. There is much to be learned here about
the critical role of the honest communication that is the
deepest kind of intimacy. The book is also a portrayal of
Elaine’s circuitous and painful path to recovery after Vic’s
death and her deeply understood recognition that while her
husband has not survived, their complex and rich love is
forever part of her.
While some readers may not relate to the spiritual pathway
that is so vital to acceptance and recovery for Elaine, what
is clear is that a supportive community of family and friends
are essential as we move through illness, death and grief.
Elaine does not spare herself, writing honestly about her
moments of anger and sacrifice; that honesty enables her to
let go and simply love her husband as he is dying and as she
incorporates the reality of his death.
The Mansfield family’s connection to the natural world is a
critical presence in their lives, and Elaine shares her pro-
found sense of connection to the cycle of seasons and the
cycle of life. This is a book that will touch your heart
and inform your understanding of love, loss, and grief."
“Reading this beautiful memoir of love and loss and
triumph felt to me like a sacred journey into the very
heart and soul of the courageous woman who writes it.
With finely crafted, poignant as well as powerful prose,
Elaine Mansfield tells the moving and inspirational story
of her husband’s valiant battle with a rare form of incura-
ble cancer and her own emotional struggles to support
him throughout their shared ordeal. Her marriage to Vic
is solid and happy, based on loyalty, devotion and commit-
ment—all of which serve as the foundation for the author’s
unwelcome but lovingly executed role as her husband’s
primary caregiver. The author writes that in her marriage
to Vic, emotional honesty was the ground of their relation-
ship. Clearly that same emotional honesty is the ground
of her writing as well. Coming straight from her heart, she
openly shares her pain, her fears and insecurities as she
faces and copes with her husband’s relentless and recurring
illness that ultimately ends in his death. But throughout
this experience she also writes of her growing strength and
determination. As she consciously and deliberately works
through her grief, the day eventually comes when she feels
ready to look clearly not only at what she has left behind,
but squarely at the new life that lies before her. Through
her writing and her work as a bereavement facilitator with
hospice, she decides to share her experiences, and the
valuable lessons she has learned, with others who are
struggling to cope with care giving and loss. Overall this
is an uplifting story of courage, hope, determination and
triumph—and a very compelling read.
—Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC, is a nationally certified
grief counselor who blogs at www.griefhealingblog.com
Complete Kirkus Review
A meditative memoir of a wife’s bereavement.
In her debut, Mansfield recounts her personal and
spiritual evolutions following her beloved husband’s
terminal cancer diagnosis. Divided into before and
after sections, the book details both the painful months
leading up to the death of Mansfield’s husband and the
years of mourning and emotional exploration that followed.
The first half will be familiar to anyone who has been
involved with the treatment of a long-term illness, from
the indignities of hospitals to the search for moments of
joy amid bleak circumstances. In these early chapters,
Mansfield’s story often seems to lack direction, focusing
on medical minutiae at the expense of narrative momen-
tum and sometimes relying on clichéd language, as
when the author refers to herself as “a lioness protecting
her cub.” In the after section, however, the book builds
into something far more original and exciting, offering
readers a bold exploration of loss, grief and unexpected
consequences. Drawing on the teachings of Buddhism,
Jungian psychology, mythology and other spiritual re-
sources, Mansfield thoughtfully crafts practices and
rituals to help her and her loved ones cope with her
husband’s death—an ongoing attempt to reconcile the
joy of life with the pain of death. Her descriptions of
her bereavement and slow recovery are honest and
moving, rendered in subtly poetic language; at one point,
she describes a groupof dolphins as “luminous revelations
leaping from the great unconscious sea.” What’s more,
Mansfield’s perspective on her husband’s death is
refreshingly curious and unflinching. She bravely allows
for the possibility that losing him may have opened
doors to opportunities she otherwise would not have had.
These sharp insights alongside specific details of practical
coping mechanisms make her account an instructive
guidebook for readers confronting their own losses. Those
interested in the natural world—and city folk yearning for
a taste of country life—will also appreciate the vivid de-
scriptions of her rural New York homestead and its
central role in her healing process.
Deeply spiritual without being preachy, a comforting
guide to mourning for readers of any stripe.
(August 14, 2014)
Congratulations on IPPY Award!
From Swenson Book Development's May 2015 Newsletter:
Congratulations to Elaine Mansfield
and Larson Publications
on the Gold Medal 2015 IPPY
Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief, by Elaine Mansfield (Larson Publications) has been awarded a national gold medal for the best book in the category Aging/Death & Dying from the world’s largest book awards contest. The Independent Publisher Book Awards, known as the IPPY, honor the year’s best titles from around the world published by academic, small and independent presses. The gala awards banquet for the IPPY Awards will be held Wednesday, May 27, in New York City. Nearly 6,000 entries from more than 2,000 publishers representing all 50 states, eight Canadian provinces, and 34 countries participated in the 19th annual Independent Publishers Book Awards.