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"The Deacon: An Unexpected Life"
Tom Fargnoli has led a unique life and has been through more than most. After becoming a deacon, a position that he loved, his wife unexpectedly and tragically took her own life. Then, Tom had to make an impossible decision of choosing to stay with the church and his life of being a deacon or starting a new journey and being able to remarry.
His book "The Deacon: An Unexpected Life" came from this heart-wrenching situation and years of grieving. This book is meant to help finally shine a light on the topic of suicide, and the devastation it can bring. In fact, Tom is so passionate about spreading his story and helping others cope with the loss of a loved one to suicide all the proceeds from his book will be put toward suicide prevention. Continuing reading to hear all about Tom Fargnolis’s exclusive interview with Hubpages.
Q and A with the Author
Can you tell us what your journey was like that led you to write "The Deacon: An Unexpected Life?"
My life was running smoothly. In fact, I had a perfect life, a great wife, family, home, and job. As I approached retirement, I was completing a six-year program that would culminate in being ordained as a Catholic deacon. That’s how I planned to spend my retirement – servicing as a deacon and traveling with my wife. Life was good, but then, unimaginable tragedy and horror came to my family - the circumstances of which, led me to write “The Deacon – An Unexpected Life.”
Without much of a warning, my wife, tragically, took her own life. Losing a spouse of 40 years is devastating, but grieving the loss of your loved one to suicide is much more intense and complex. What made the grieving even more intense was that I was a deacon. As time went on and as my grieving progressed through the various stages of grieving, I was continually faced with the realization that I can never have another loving relationship and remarry.
After two years battling with this decision, and having been hospitalized with quadruple bypass surgery, I made my decision – a decision that brought with it, rejection. Rejection from various members of the church. I was treated as if I left the church instead of just leaving the diaconate.
Through all of these unexpected and life-changing events, my therapist suggested that I write things down. So what began as a cathartic exercise, thanks to being shut-in because of COVID-19, I transformed my unexpected and life-changing events into a novel in a rather unique way.
What motivated you to write the book?
My book is my story – a true story – with a touch of fiction to bring the events together in a way that will move my readers – In a way that allows them to experience not only my events but to see their own unexpected events in a different light.
As the book came together, and after reading the first draft, my wife told me that this book is going to help a lot of people. People who relate to grieving and isolation, people who have lost a loved one from suicide, people who have had to make life-changing decisions, and people who have faced rejection – they will gain from reading this book. They will gain in seeing that through all of the sadness, that faith can be held on to, providing them a sense of hope and peace.
How would you describe your book to readers?
My book is a story of faith and hope, not only in coping with the loss of a spouse through suicide but in being forced to choose between remaining a deacon and pursuing another loving relationship. That is all I ever knew – being in a loving and caring relationship for over 45 years. In addition, once I made my decision – a two-year battle, I found rejection – rejection from the church, some priests, and even some deacons. They treated me as if I left the church or somehow lost my faith.
As the story unfolds, Rick, the reporter who is interviewing me, becomes someone very special. I have strived in this book to help the readers feel that they are a part of my story and will be able to relate to many of my unexpected events. In a way, we all live an unexpected life. My book addresses those events that were unexpected but also addresses the glimmers of hope that shine through them.
Would you say you learned anything from writing this book?
I learned that we all need love, compassion, and acceptance. I would always tell people at a funeral service that I often conducted, that God lives in our hearts, not in our heads. Writing this book has presented me with a very effective tool in helping people to feel God’s presence no matter what they experience in their lives. People can best relate to others who have experienced the kind of things that they have experienced.
In writing this book and in receiving letters from readers, I learned a lot about the human journey – and especially about keeping faith a part of that journey.
What are the primary messages in this book?
There were a few messages. First, I wanted to share the fact that it’s important to understand that suicide varies tremendously and no one should ever assume that they know the reason why someone took their own life. Often, it is not a rational decision.
Secondly, I needed to reconcile myself with respect to leaving the diaconate. Most people are not aware of the rule that prohibits a deacon to have another loving relationship if their wife dies. I hope that someday that rule can be done away with, for all the preparation I went through to become a deacon, all the years of servicing the people of my parish, and all of the people I visited in the hospital – all of it – all curtailed simply because my wife died.
And, finally, I wanted to share with my readers that no matter what they face in life, that they are not alone. God loves us all more than we could ever imagine. That is certainly a message that comes out through my story and one that I hope will resonate with my readers.
Is there anyone in particular you think might benefit from reading the book?
I believe most people would benefit from reading my book. It’s a real-life story and many people will certainly relate to grieving and isolation, to losing loved ones from suicide, to have gone through surgery and recovery, to having faced life-changing decisions and having experienced rejection.
They would benefit because they would see that they are not alone – that they are loved, despite their feelings of grief, loneliness, doubt, and rejection. It’s all about relationships. We all need them and we all need a relationship with God. Anyone who desires to build good and true relationships will benefit from my story.
Are you currently working on any more books or projects?
Currently, I am putting my efforts into this book, with respect to interviews and marketing. I am, however, thinking of another book with a similar theme – helping people move from their pain to some sort of peace. Proceeds from my current book go toward suicide awareness.
For further information visit: www.ThomasFargnoli.com