Autobiography can in some ways be considered a DIY manual for navigating our own lives. How have others dealt with all the stuff ordinary life throws at us? What about things that are almost too scary to contemplate? What can we learn from how it all turned out?

In Dawn Picken's memoir LOVE, LOSS & LIFELINES: MY YEAR OF GRIEF ON THE RUN, she takes readers along on the terrifying roller coaster that begins, unexpectedly in her mom-with-a-career life, with what seems to be her husband Sean's ordinary case of the flu.

It was not. Readers will feel the pulsing immediacy of the deepening crisis as Picken, who was a former well-known Spokane TV news anchor, weaves together archived social media posts with her reflections from more than a decade later. As Sean struggles to survive in the ICU, she struggles to balance caring for him, their two young kids, and her own mental and physical well-being.

Ultimately, as Picken reveals in the introduction, she finds herself a widow and a single mom. She decides to take a yearlong trip around the world to attempt to find her footing. "Planning the trip had already given me something indispensable: hope," she writes. "My life was already split by Sean's death. I wanted a new line of demarcation... I needed to learn what would grow from extended travel rather than focus on what grew from misfortune."

By turns heartwrenching and humorous, Picken's explores not just many locations — from Paris to South Africa to New Zealand — but also the profound and shifting facets of grief when, as a mother with two young children, life simply must go on. Reflecting on writing the book, Picken emails from New Zealand, "I'm thrilled and relieved to finally see the memoir in readers' hands. This project has given me extra time with Sean; it is a love letter to him, to our caring community in Spokane and to the people we've met since we left the Inland Northwest. I also think it will help a lot of readers process their own grief."

UPDATE: In her memoir,  Picken also shared her diagnosis of a genetic liver disease that always lurked as a threat to her health. Indeed, as we firmed up the review of her book for the Dec/Jan issue of Health & Home, Dawn emailed that she had been in the hospital. Her health quickly took a dramatic and rapid decline. Still, it was a shock to read on her Facebook page that Dawn had died on Dec. 26. As her illness deepened over the course of just a few weeks, she worried about her children's future. Dawn was a single mother and not eligible for life insurance due to her liver disease. If you'd like to help her kids out, consider buying her book or make a donation to the GiveALittle fund she set up for her daughter Fiona, a college student, and son Finley, a senior in high school.

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About The Author

Anne McGregor

Anne McGregor is a contributor to the Inlander and the editor of InHealth. She is married to Inlander editor/publisher Ted S. McGregor, Jr.