Turning her scars into stars

Lessons in grief, forgiveness, gratitude and faith
Turning Your Scars into Stars by Sue Hamby, Ph. D.


In her book, “Turning Your Scars into Stars: A Journey from Mourning to Joy” (Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.), Dr. Sue Hamby sheds her skin and opens a vein to share the pain, grief and sorrow following the murder of her son, Russ, four years ago.

Hamby started her tome at a time in her life when she was experiencing the end of her marriage and the loss of her business. Initially, the book was to be a guide for others who are experiencing grief and sorrow in their lives to help them come through the dark and back out into the light through faith. She had no idea that her book would become her own therapeutic journey.

“I started the chapter on grief the day before Russ died. I was writing about the different internal scars I had like the scar of un-forgiveness. I was asking God how to find forgiveness, how to turn my scars into stars and journey from mourning to joy.”

Hamby’s book is a roadmap for anyone suffering a loss. She takes the reader on a journey from the moment she found Russ sitting on his sofa in his living room, a single bullet to his head, to the moment she gained clarity as she walked through the dark tunnel of a mother’s worst nightmare. And she spares no detail.

“It (the book) is not just about losing a child. It could be divorce, the death of a relationship. I saw so many people struggling. I knew if I could get through this, someone else could get through a divorce. I had to share with them how to get through it,” Hamby said.

Hamby said she found her way back into the light through her faith in God, scripture and sharing. She learned how to “let go and let God,” and turn her scars into stars with compassionate grace, and guide others through the maze of grief and loss in their lives. This book does not stop where Russ’s life ends. Hamby also openly discusses the personal disappointments in her own life. It’s all there, but none could be as heart wrenching as a mother walking into her house to find her only son murdered.

Through her own words, scriptures and prayers, Hamby speaks about her internal scars of self-centeredness, pride and too much self-confidence. “When you are full of yourself with pride and self-confidence, He empties you out and you become a broken vessel,” she said. “You are completely empty, no energy. Then He refills you with His spirit, His love, His mercy and instills in you a love for others.

“It was different after losing Russ,” she continued. “God changes your priorities. My priority was to get up the ladder of success, but I realized my ladder was up against the wrong wall.”

Hamby said God instilled in her a new purpose in life. “I should have been climbing up the Lord’s ladder, not my ladder,” she said. “Now I say Lord, I’m reporting for duty.”

Gratitude is another lesson Hamby learned. “Just being able to get out of bed by yourself, that is something to be thankful for,” she said. “I learned how to incorporate the loss of my son into my life. We learn how to incorporate grief into our lives and can still find joy despite all the trauma.”
Today, Hamby spreads her compassion and love to others. She is a world traveler and works with Neema House in Tanzania, Africa, founded by Michael and Dorris Fortson. She has visited Neema House several times to volunteer and now supports a child called Rusty, named after her son. She also co-founded a local branch of Compassionate Friends, a support group that helps families who have lost a child, and she works with homeless organizations. “There is a sense of satisfaction knowing your life has purpose,” she said. “I had no purpose for awhile.”
Hamby said she is more grateful now than ever. “One of the things I really understand from this, of the many lessons I learned, is that you can still consider it joy when you encounter trials. I incorporated that into my life. I learned how to incorporate the loss of my son into my life.”