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Following daughter’s death, Casey Martin publishes children’s book to help others cope with grief

When the Martin family unexpectedly lost their 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Jane, in February, they embarked on a road of grief and suffering. Along that road, they also found joy and a stronger faith.

Casey Martin was five months pregnant with her fifth child, Lucy, when the tragedy struck the family. 

“About a month after Jane passed away, we were still kind of dealing with just really big emotions,” Martin said. “My husband [Robert] and I had our own grief, and our children had their own grief. It just looks totally different for kids and trying to navigate that with them. I woke up one night in the middle [of the night]. I had this really clear idea that I’m convinced was from the Lord of a story to help us process all of these thoughts.” 

Martin was inspired to write a children’s book for her children and then was encouraged by others to have it published. The book “Old and New Friends” was published by WestBow Press in August.

The book is about a family who loves to entertain. Hosting dinners, having parties and sharing play dates are a part of their everyday life. Like the Martins, one day, the family suddenly experiences a great loss. Their old friends — aptly named Happiness, Comfort and Consistency, were replaced by new friends, Grief, Fear and Anger. 

Loss changed the family forever but, in the end, they realize that they can always count on their oldest, most faithful friend, Love.

“I wrote it all on my phone and read it to them,” Martin said. “I truly intended this to be for my kids just as something to not only help them but to help us think through things that we were feeling.” 

Martin said after sharing it with friends and family, one of her close friends who is a counselor encouraged her to look into publishing the book. 

“I’m not a writer by trade,” Martin said. “It’s always just kind of been a personal

private hobby. The Lord in his goodness just lined things up and then months later we had this book.”

Since grief comes in all variations, not just death, Martin has been able to encourage families going through hard times. 

“I’ve heard from families that have gone through a divorce or are going through a bad diagnosis,” Martin said. “Grief shows up and kind of unexpectedly. I hope this continues to encourage others.” 

Martin said they were living a predictable, simple and joyful life. 

“I had this idea of these characters that were Comfort, Consistency and Happiness who were regular visitors in our home and then all of a sudden, they weren’t there anymore,” Martin said. “They were replaced by these friends of Anger and Fear and Grief, but our most faithful friend, Love, was always present.”

Whether comfort was around or fear was around, the Martins could always count on love. 

“We let love take charge,” Martin said. “That joy started coming in. That’s something we had to realize as a family, that we can hold joy and grief together. Grief is a part of loss, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.” 

Throughout their journey with grief and loss, the Martins found a new strength in their relationship with Christ. 

“I am not thankful to have lost Jane by any means, but I’m thankful to have seen the goodness of the Lord,” Martin said. “Jane herself is such a gracious gift but even through her death we have seen the Lord’s goodness in ways that he has provided for us. I believe he’s the God of redemption and will redeem, even her death, for good. It is not the story I wanted, and I never anticipated writing a book, but if it can be used to encourage others to the hope that they can have in Jesus then absolutely, we want to do that.” 

Martin said Jane leaves a legacy to give others hope for the future. 

“In Psalm 139, it says that God has ordained our days,” Martin said. “We have a grandfather in our family that’s 93, and we’re so thankful for his life but to realize God is creator, and God ordained those days, and he had a purpose for Jane’s life. We’re seeing that even played out now.” 

Those looking to acquire a book can do so on Amazon or at the local LaGrange book store, Pretty Good Books. Readers can follow Martin on Instagram @agazefixed and her blog at www.agazefixed.com.