Shining Through

From Grief to Gratitude

Non-Fiction - Grief/Hardship
270 Pages
Reviewed on 11/07/2016
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Author Biography

Author, Singer and Teacher. A resource of guided meditations, blogs and events to inspire you to live mindfully in Peace and Gratitude. Sharing music written, composed and recorded together with husband Composer and musician Terry Oldfield.
Soraya is passionate about dispelling the veil of shame that surrounds suicide and stepping up to make a difference through education about mindfulness, meditation, compassionate listening, loving kindness, acceptance, and inclusivity toward all peoples. She takes part in fundraising for suicide prevention charity events in her community, sharing her personal experiences to raise awareness. In April 2016, Soraya featured in the Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper for trekking the Larapinta Trail to raise funds for Suicide Prevention Australia. She actively promotes her book, including participating in media interviews, such as her radio interview with the Spirited Women’s Movement Sacred and Sassy Radio for Women.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude is a non-fiction memoir written by Soraya Saraswati. Saraswati's middle child attempted suicide just a few days short of his eighteenth birthday. Prem was a special child, sensitive, caring and quirky, but he was seriously affected by the trauma of the early death of his father and the latter rejections of Mitch, his stepfather, and the other male role models in his life. When he finally reached out for help, Saraswati went with Prem to a doctor who arranged for him to be hospitalized until he could get into a rehabilitation center. Prem and his mom both felt he was doing the right thing, but she was immediately alarmed by the relatively remote location of his room and the removal of a watcher for Prem, who had attempted suicide previously. Then, the hospital doctor prescribed an antidepressant which was contraindicated for young adults, especially those with suicidal ideation. But Prem reassured her that he'd see her the next day, and, dismissing her alarm, Saraswati left. He attempted suicide that night and was in a comatose state and on life-support when she saw her son again.

Soraya Saraswati's moving non-fiction memoir, Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude, is a beautifully written and inspirational tribute from a grieving mother to her son. I loved reading about the author's early life and her years spent studying and living in the Australian Ashram where she met her husband and the father of her three boys. Saraswati makes it clear in this book that her motivations are those of her son, that he'd want to know that reading about his struggles may help others in similar circumstances, and I think she's right on target there. The picture she builds of Prem is rich and fully dimensional; one of a caring, quirky and fun-loving kid with a serious side and a sensitive nature. I'm glad to have met him through this book and applaud the author for sharing her memories of him. Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude is highly recommended.

Arya Fomonyuy

Moving on after a devastating loss isn’t easy. After losing someone dear to us, we can move from the stage of pain to self-pity, through blaming ourselves for the loss to thoughts of suicide. It’s the experience of Soraya Saraswati after her own painful loss. In Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude, she shares her grief and the wonderful journey towards healing, an experience that will give readers the tools they need to embrace their pain, heal, and transform the experience of loss into a life-giving one through gratitude.

I enjoyed the beautiful image of the “lotus” presented at the start of this book, a symbol of the journey readers are called on to make, and of a spirituality that fosters hope. How the flowers emerge from the murky waters is symbolic of the beauty we can recreate after being in the murky waters of mourning. After her son’s passing, the author learned powerful lessons in her journey of grief, and it seemed like the son spoke to you beyond the grave as she sang:

“Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.”

But what is the secret to healing? What is the secret to reclaiming one’s life after suffering grief? What is it that can stop one from embracing suicide? These questions are answered beautifully in this book. With a clear and compassionate voice, the author shares her spiritual journey and powerful insights on making the passage from grief to gratitude. Soraya Saraswati’s memoir will appeal to many people who have experienced loss at one point in their lives. Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude is a book to read and to pass on. A great read with powerful lessons.

Divine Zape

Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude by Soraya Saraswati is a memoir with a powerful message on grief and healing, a woman’s journey from pain to life. A story that is so human, so honest, and so intensely spiritual, one punctuated with the same questions that millions of people are asking. Soraya Saraswati shares her loss, her secret grief, her dire longing to cease to be, her redemption, and ultimate joy at embracing life.

After losing a husband and a son, tragically and helplessly, she went through all sorts of terrifying emotions, asking questions she knew can’t be answered. But the underlying thought of guilt, the feeling that she could have done something to prevent the tragic situations from happening was what almost drove her insane. Could she live without Prem, the son she’d loved so much? Could she accept the void she felt deep inside her heart? In this memoir she offers a path to healing, a journey that begins with accepting the reality and allowing it to speak to one’s heart.

There is a lot to learn from this heartwarming and beautiful story. Amongst the many lessons one can learn from this book is the truth that we find healing in the pain we experience. She writes: “I see now that the river of life flows on and deep hurts are often buried by the forward rush of time. But left unresolved these buried emotions can build, their weight pulling us under like a net of heaviness fraught with confusion. We’re often unaware of their complexity or the ominous threat they pose to our day-to-day happiness, until we suddenly find ourselves drowning.”

Everyone loses someone or something at some stage in their lives, and walking past the hurt, the exacerbating pain, and the grief doesn’t come easily to most of us. It could be the loss of a dog, a friend, a family member. Grief isn’t always easy. Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude is a beautiful gift to humanity, a path to healing and wholeness, a very inspirational book on handling loss and grief.

Deborah Lloyd

Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude by Soraya Saraswati is an exceptional work. Ms. Saraswati shares her life story, brimming with fulfilling and failed relationships; the joys and struggles of motherhood; many moves within her country of Australia, spiritual quests and other experiences. With great courage and faith, the author has had to deal with two suicides – her brother Gil’s, and three years later, to the day, the suicide of her seventeen-year-old son, Prem. She is a complementary medicine practitioner, having many years of experience working as a naturopath, yoga and meditation teacher. Her healing path also included the use of mindfulness techniques, Reiki, water therapy and other modalities. The support of her husband, their children, other family members and ashram communities also were paramount in her expressions of gratitude, and eventual acceptance and peace of these painful events.

Not only does this author share her powerful story, but the book is simply very well-written. Soraya Saraswati skillfully weaves the details of her life, with practical information about suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, with her thoughts about her own healing process. Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude, Soraya Saraswati’s memoir, is an honest book, filled with both heart-breaking and heartwarming moments. By sharing her struggles and her achievements, she demonstrates how a person can find healing, even when it may seem almost impossible. The reader joins her journey as she works towards this lovely place of serenity. This book is unforgettable, imparting many vital life lessons.

Vernita Naylor

Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude is a non-fiction memoir that reflects the sadness, grief, loss, and emotions in the life adventure that surrounds Soraya Saraswati. Soraya was exposed twice to suicide - first her brother, then her teenage son. Do you realize that when we look at one other we are merely seeing a representation of who they really are? We never know what is behind their mask - it could be mental illness, bouts of suicide, or depression. We all have a cross to bear, but how we work through the challenges can either cause us to live in a spirit of forgiveness or a spirit of bondage. As it says in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” Soraya Saraswati began to discover that purpose and expresses it in Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude which displays that the essence of mindfulness is the catalyst of new beginnings and healing.

I enjoyed how Soraya Saraswati resonates in her memoir. Soraya helped me to stop and ponder on my life and see that I’m not alone in my mountain top highs and valley lows. I focus on expressing gratitude every day, regardless of what life may throw at me. It is our experiences, wisdom and faith that get us through the muddle, chatter and uncertainty of life to a space of tranquility, freedom and gratitude. As Soraya Saraswati discusses in Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and the properties of essential oils can help to calm the spirit which channels the mind and body to start anew. In Shining Through From: Grief to Gratitude, you will have access to a meditation session with Soraya Saraswati. Enjoy!

Sagarmurti O'Brien

Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude
Few meeting her today would guess that, in her life, Soraya has experienced a degree of trauma and a depth of grief that could well have left her scarred and shattered. As a young spiritual devotee, she married her teacher—a remarkable, charismatic Indian swami, with whom she had three sons. It later became apparent that he had sexually abused children in the yoga ashram of which he was the Director. Under the strain of subsequent court cases and jail time he succumbed to an old alcohol addiction and died of the effects of alcohol abuse some seven years later. Soraya was left a single mother with three sons to bring up by herself, and the sadness that came from the realisation of her husband’s deceptions.

After his death, Soraya focussed her energy on building a loving, caring home for her boys, while continuing her work as a naturopath and yoga teacher. She gained a reputation as a skilled teacher and therapist and shared her knowledge with others in consultations, classes and retreats. However, the happiness of family and professional life was laced with the sadness of the failure of a new relationship and the effects of this on her sons. A happy re-marriage later laid the grounds for a new beginning and expanded horizons. However, the cruel seeds of tragedy that had already been sown unfolded inexorably in the life of Prem—her second, sensitive son—leading, ultimately, to his death by suicide. Suicide had already claimed her brother, Gil, some three years before.

Soraya’s journey through grief and re-emergence as a person with deepened perception and life wisdom is told with unflinching honesty. She had no road map to guide her but relied instead on intuition and a determination not to let her experiences lead her into bitterness. Step by step, she found her way through, using techniques she already knew and others to which she was led. The path was painful and difficult. However, this gruelling path fuelled an inner transformation which, ultimately, enabled her to embrace everything that had happened with grace and acceptance. Her inner transformation acted as a catalyst, radiating out into her marriage and family, encouraging and pointing the way to healing, wholeness and a new, expanded joy in life.

Soraya has dedicated her book to her son, Prem, with the wish that telling his story would help others—something that Prem had always wanted to do. She is active in national efforts for suicide prevention and in dispelling the shame that surrounds mental illness. She continues her work as a spiritual teacher and now travels the world with her husband, flautist and composer Terry Oldfield, singing and performing original songs and mantras for peace. She has, indeed, come shining through. I found this book moving and inspiring and would thoroughly recommend it.