The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief

The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief

by Liz Tichenor
The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief

The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief

by Liz Tichenor


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Called "such a sad, tough story, but finally so life-affirming, filled with spirit and love" by Anne Lamott, this is a raw and intensely affecting memoir by a young priest about loss of a child, its grief and its aftermath, and the hard-won joy that can follow.

Liz Tichenor has taken her newborn son, five weeks old, to the doctor, from a cabin on the shores of Lake Tahoe. She is sent home to her husband and two-year-old daughter with the baby, who is pronounced "fine" by an urgent care physician. Six hours later, the baby dies in their bed. Less than a year and a half before, Tichenor's mother jumped from a building and killed herself after a long struggle with alcoholism. As a very young Episcopal priest, Tichenor has to "preach the Good News," to find faith where there is no hope, but she realizes these terrible parts of her own life will join her in the pulpit.

The Night Lake is the story of finding a way forward through tragedies that seem like they might be beyond surviving and of carving out space for the slow labor of learning to live again, in grief.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781640094062
Publisher: Catapult
Publication date: 01/05/2021
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

LIZ TICHENOR has put down roots in the Bay Area but is originally from New Hampshire and the Midwest. An Episcopal priest, she serves as rector at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Pleasant Hill, California. Tichenor and her husband, Jesse, are raising two young children and continuing to explore the adventure of living, parenting, and serving in their community.

Table of Contents

1 Death 3



What Follows

Going Home Empty

Spreading Story



The Coroner's Visit




Planning the Plot

First Run

Sympathy Cards

Dry Bones

Ashes and Glitter

2 Ritual 55

The Placenta and the Aspen

The Bread

The Ashes, the Cardboard, the Neoprene

Protected Flame

Digging the Hole

The Box

The Rite

Into the Ground

None of It Is Glamorous

3 Jump 87

The Long Haul

The Call

Relief and Wailing

The Post-it

The Preemptive Note

Home Parish


That's Gonna Fuck You Up

4 Returning 111

The End of Leave

Plumbing the Depths


Wrestling Trauma


Respite and Terror

The Joy of Ash Wednesday

Back in the Pulpit


Never Again

Racing and Waiting

5 Her Shadow 163


Shell of a House

Gone to Seek Oblivion



Running Interference


Reading the Signs

Light and Oblivion

6 Gestation 183

Raising the Girl

Building the Kingdom

Into the Water

Withering Tree

Demanding the Coroner

Endless Scanning

7 Incarnate 203

Tending the Body

Thomas in My Stead

She Already Tried

8 Birthing 209

Isn't It Sweet?

Birthday Cake

Birth Days

Running After Sam

Holy Romper


Sick Kids

Racing Again

Wet Nurse

Bread and Ashes

The Box, the Font, and Ruthie

9 Sober 239

A Loaded History


Mary's Sacred Heart

Thirty Days

10 Parenting Three 247

Dead Tree

But Where?

Milk and Dust

Dry Bones Retreating

Through the Door


Bag of Booze

Raw Light of Good Friday

Preaching Vigil

The Mantel

11 Last Visions 277

Into the Fires

Resurrection in the Smoke

Any Trail

The Night Lake

Acknowledgments 287

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