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Moving On Without Letting Go: Widower’s new book shares keys to surviving the journey through grief

January 26, 2024

Everyone experiences grief differently. Some want to move on immediately; others let grief flow through them, following its natural course; still others get stuck — they can't or don't want to move on, because their grief is the last thread of connection they have with their loved one. To let go would make the loss feel even more final and devastating. The comforting message at the core of It All Belongs: Love, Loss, and Learning to Live Again, a new book from Judy and Roy Smoot, is that it’s OK to be part of the latter group.

“The essence of It All Belongs is to help more people allow (even embrace) their grief as necessary to healing and honoring their loved one lost — and to move gently with it, through to the other side,” said Smoot, who lost his wife, Judy, to Brain Cancer in 2016. Smoot’s book also offers an intimate window into Judy’s own grief while she travels from devastating diagnosis to the end of her life. In It All Belongs, Judy shows people how to live — and how to die — with grace, vulnerability, fear, and humble acceptance.

In its special juxtaposition of stories, It All Belongs traces Judy and Roy Smoot’s final four years together, weaving in tools and practices to create an immersive reader experience. By approaching dreaded end-of-life realities with wit, candor, and hands-on help, It All Belongs is a soulful mosaic that blends an engaging, deeply personal story with expressive art, journaling, poetry, and writings.

“This is a book to be used,” Roy Smoot explains. “It’s filled with ideas, tools, and examples to help guide individuals and groups in discussing and contemplating their own inevitable journeys of love and grief.”

When Judy, a spiritual director who used expressive arts to help others cope with chronic illness, receives the devastating diagnosis of Glioblastoma Multiforme, she puts her own spiritual practices to the ultimate test. In continuing to journal and make mandalas until the very end of her life, Judy models living fully into one’s own mortality.

But that’s only half the story.

Following Judy’s death, Roy, Judy’s husband and soulmate of nearly 40 years, enters a world he didn’t know existed, a world he didn’t want to know, a world of searing pain, grief, and grace beyond anything he could conceive. It All Belongs invites readers to follow Roy from the angst of navigating the simplest of day-to-day realities to deep questioning and soul-level introspection. In journaling through his travels, including a long road trip out west and a spiritual quest to Iona, Scotland, Roy mirrors Judy’s work to model finding one’s personal path through devastating grief.

It All Belongs offers spiritual tools and healing practices to help readers face end-of-life realities by exploring the beauty, light — and even joy — tucked within even the most tragic of circumstances. This beautifully illustrated book encourages readers to listen deeply, explore purposefully, and fully embrace this sacred time.

“Hold nothing back in your questions, rantings, thoughts, emotions,” Roy Smoot writes in the book’s introduction. “As this book’s title affirms, everything you feel, think, ask, experience, live through, and release is a sacred part of your journey. It all belongs.”

About the Authors
JUDY and ROY SMOOT met in college at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio; were married following graduation; and for the next four decades lived and loved in Georgia, Florida, Ohio, and Maine.

Roy enjoyed a successful banking career; Judy served as a Wellstreams spiritual director, a Dominican Associate, and an Expressive Arts Florida Institute (EAFI) certified expressive arts therapist. Judy established Always We Begin Again (AWBA), a nonprofit organization to support people with chronic illnesses. Later in life, they made their home at “Sunrise Ridge,” their cottage and retreat center renovated and created in the breathtaking beauty of Ohio’s Hocking Hills.

MELINDA FOLSE is a writer, editor, and collaborator on a mission to tell stories that make a difference. She believes this story will strike a meaningful chord in every life it touches. It All Belongs is her eighth book, joining Grandmaster, Dream Catcher, and Lessons Well Learned as her favorite explorations of lives and passions well lived. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

To buy the book, visit:

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