Gaining Insights Into Loss


When Jorie Nolen Toranzo’s plumber husband, Mario, died in a job-related accident in 1996 at age 39, the grief-stricken Balboa Island mother of two young children felt in desperate need of solace and understanding.

“I was looking for books that inspire you and help you understand death or the loss [of a loved one]--anything,” recalled Toranzo, 31. “Most of the things out there were New Age books that dealt with psychics and near-death experiences, or religious books. I read one religious book that gave me some inspiration, but there wasn’t anything in the middle that brought other people’s experiences and emotions together so you could relate to it.”

Thus was born the idea for “The Hidden Gardens of Life’s Winter: An Inspirational Collection to Ease Life’s Sorrows,” featuring verse written by Toranzo after her husband died and inspirational quotes from others who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

But don’t look for it at bookstores--at least not yet.


It’s a work-in-progress, and Toranzo is seeking more input from those who have known grief and want to share their thoughts and emotions.

Toranzo began working on her book a year ago, mailing questionnaires to friends, acquaintances and former clients of the family plumbing business. She also expanded her quest to the Internet, so far receiving about 100 responses.

But She’d like more. She wants to know:

* What advice did you find to be helpful?


* What objects or beliefs did you turn to for solace?

* What type of support did you find to be most comforting?

* Where did you find the strength to move on?

* What have you learned from this life experience?


Toranzo’s e-mail address is:

In addition to the electrocution of her husband, her 27-year-old brother died in 1989 typhoon.

Says Toranzo: “People are educated and given tools for most of what they encounter in life. Unfortunately, death and the grief that follows are often overlooked, if not avoided entirely. “I’d like for something to be out there for people to be able to relate to.”

Survivors, she says, “need the strength to move on.”


Toranzo had handled all the office work for the family business; after her husband died, she launched Property Works, a repair-remodel referral service.

Now Toranzo, who attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A. before she married, is a partner in a San Juan Capistrano-based clothing company.

A sample of her book is making the rounds of publishers.

One lesson Toranzo has learned is that when a loved one dies, “It’s not the end of the world.”


Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, Heather Graham--and hundreds of others in for the 18th annual Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference--will sign and sell books Wednesday, 5-8 p.m., at Anaheim Hilton and Towers, 777 Convention Way. Proceeds go to RWA’s national literacy campaign.


A signing and panel featuring cartoonists Mark O’Hare (“Citizen Dog”), Kevin Fagan (“Drabble”), Greg Evans (“Luann”) and Vic Lee (“I Need Help”) will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Barnes & Noble, 31 Fortune Road, Irvine.

Also this week:


* Mark Nykanen (“Hush”) will sign at noon today at Book Carnival, 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange; and speak and sign at 1:30 p.m. today at Coffee, Tea & Mystery, 13232 Springdale St., Westminster.

* Scott Peck (“The Love You Deserve: 10 Keys to Perfect Love”) will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borders Books and Music, 25222 El Paseo, Mission Viejo.

* Laguna Beach Poetry Slam Team reads at 9 p.m. Wednesday at Club Mesa, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa.

* Terry Black will speak at a meeting of the O.C. Science Fiction Club at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at 2400 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton. (714) 552-4925.


* Lee Child (“Die Trying”) will sign at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Book Carnival.

* Judith Shervin and James Sniechowski (“The New Intimacy”) speak at 7 p.m. Thursday at Barnes & Noble, 26751 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo.

* Dale Furutani (“Death at the Crossroads”) will sign at 1 p.m. Saturday Aug. 1 at Book Carnival; , 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange. Furutani also will and speak and sign at 3 p.m. Saturday at Coffee, Tea & Mystery, 13232 Springdale St., Westminster.

Send information about book-related events at least 10 days before event to: Dennis McLellan, O.C. Books & Authors, Life & Style, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.