“Better Not Bitter” explores author’s journey through grief
AREA — Michelle Cowan shares her journey through grief and healing in her self-published book Better not Bitter”.
Cowan was born in Harlan and raised near Kirkman, one of Cecil and Ann Blum’s eleven children. “Our family roots are right there,” she said.
Her family attended church at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Harlan, and she and her husband, Joe, spent their early married years in Shelby County, commuting to Omaha and Council Bluffs for work, until the couple and their daughter, AJ moved to Council Bluffs.
In March 2009, Joe was killed by a drunk driver while traveling home from Nebraska. The book documents Michelle’s navigation through her own grief, while trying to find forgiveness for the person responsible and accountability to the establishment which served the driver, who also perished in the accident.
Cowan said she began journaling after Joe’s death, and initially wanted to write a book as a gift for her daughter, now married and a mother herself.
“I wanted to preserve the story for them. My daughter was only fifteen when this happened; she was so young. I was afraid she wouldn’t remember.”
“I think that’s why the book is so raw at the beginning, it was my emotions at the time. I don’t think I could have recreated that this far out.”
She was considering organizing her journals and writing a book, when in 2021, she began experiencing partial vision loss.
“I asked myself ‘What haven’t you done that you might need your vision for?’ It was another huge loss in my life. It triggered a lot of emotion. I always felt like I would do it someday, but the vision loss made me realize it was time.”
Later that year, Cowan attended the Okoboji Writers Retreat, an event open to writers of all skill levels.
“It was the springboard,” she said. It was there she met and hired a writing coach, author Debra Engle from Winterset.
Cowan said she had a team assisting her with the publication of the book, but she said, “It’s my story.”
“I had been putting it together for years. So the moral of the story there is don’t put off something you really want to accomplish, because life can change in an instant.”
Cowan said she had doubts about sharing in writing something so personal.
“When I looked at it through the standpoint of helping people, I made peace with sharing it.”
“I am trying to share my story to help others who are grieving or fighting alchoholism, maybe if they read a story and find out the devastation first hand, maybe they would reach out.”
Cowan said she is surprised at how well the book is selling. It was the best selling new release on Amazon and 15th on Amazon’s Top 100 Books.
Cowan is now married to “an incredibly supportive man”. She said the book was the last step in moving forward and finding peace.
“We didn’t get to have a voice. But having my story published, I feel like I have said my peace and my story is done.”
“Better Not Bitter” is available online at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites, at Market Street Gifts in Harlan, or at the Harlan Community Library.