Books by Carmella
Benjaya's Gifts is an intimate true story of the extraordinary birth and shocking death of a remarkable soul, Benjaya, which challenges the taboos and traditions surrounding the ageless mysteries of birth and death. It sheds light on synchronicity and is at times beyond belief!
Hazelwood Press, 1996.
Retail Cost £8.50 (240 pages including photos)
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Mourning Has Broken is an inspirational book that feeds the hunger for greater meaning and purpose that often arises in crisis. The collective wisdom from 23 stories of those who have raised a phoenix after being burned by life's challenges presents a potential blueprint for healing from adversity.
Crucible Publishers, 2002
Retail Cost £11.99 (240 pages)
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SPECIAL OFFER - Order Both Copies Together
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More on Benjaya’s Gifts
Benjaya's Gifts is a captivating and intimate true story, which takes us on a journey into the heart of a family to share the legacy of one small boy. Benjaya B'Hahn was born into a blaze of publicity, the biblical photograph of his unconventional birth in water - the first waterbirth in the Midlands of England - encircling the world and igniting desire in countless couples to birth their children in a more empowering way.
Five years later, Benjaya slipped into a river while playing and drowned, exiting this life as he had entered - through water into a blaze of publicity - this time the poignancy of his manner of death touching countless hearts.
This book is the extraordinary story behind the dramatic headlines, sensitively woven by his mother, Carmella, and grandmother, M'haletta, who share a passion for unravelling the mysteries and meaning of life, especially in relation to the transitions of birth and death. It leaves readers with an expanded awareness of the nature of reality, the strange magic of synchronicity, and the phenomenal power of the human spirit. It is at times beyond belief.
"Reading this book was like listening to Mozart."
Francis Kinsman, Resurgence Magazine
On 31st October I was late for work and rushed downstairs to the front door. The newspaper was spread out on the mat in front of me. There face upwards was the birth picture. There was an incredible impact. Incredible! It was the same sensation as when I saw the first image of the Earth photographed from the moon: the miracle, the whole sense of an expansion of consciousness, a new frame of reference, a higher perspective of life. This was not just the personal story of Abel and Carmella any more than the journey to the moon was just an incident in the life of an astronaut. It was an archetypal experience.
Carmella’s Diary Excerpts
I’m on the train now and it’s so, so slow. What’s happened to time? Why won’t this train move faster? I can’t stand it! My precious boy could be dying and I have to sit on a snail of a train not knowing anything. I just need to love and to release Benjaya to whatever is best for him. The horrific thought that he may have brain damage keeps pushing its way into my head bringing a bitter bile into my mouth. How could I live through that? I have to reprogram my thoughts in order to stay sane: “Benjaya, wherever you are, I’m sending you love for your healing process, be that to live or die peacefully. May the will of God be done.”
I need to back track to catch up on yesterday’s events. It will be excruciatingly painful to write but I have a compulsion to catch the process on paper. Maybe it will be of use to others in times to come.
The train ride home was sheer hell despite my efforts to reach the highest space I could. Normality went on around me. No one ventured into my pain-racked space - except with their eyes before quickly averting them again. Two people even sat next to me with their noses in their papers as I sat and sobbed. What a sad separatist world it is. How many of us dare to care?
Eternity lived through, the train pulled into my station, but there was no friend waiting. The platform was flanked with police - one at every other door - and I knew, as did everyone in my carriage, that they had come for me.
I had become increasingly aware that someone within our family circle was preparing for the journey we call death, yet consciously I did not know who that person would be or in what circumstances it would occur. Whilst I didn't dwell on it, sometimes I would hear myself saying that we were expecting to be working more closely with holistic death at some future time to balance our holistic birth courses, adding that whilst I had had some varied experiences of death, I felt it would come closer to teach us more of its whole and holy nature...
Life pulsates in this family - who would our ‘teacher’ be? Afterwards I could see that many signs and symbols had been there preceding Benjaya’s death if only I could have ‘read’ them. As it was, I thought no more of the possibility of Benjaya’s death than that of any other family member. Nothing that I or anyone else might have thought or done would have changed the eventual outcome. Of that I am certain.
From the first moment of hearing about Benjaya’s exit in water I have believed that it was no accident but a perfectly orchestrated finale. When a leaf falls from the tree before it’s old and wrinkled we see it as a natural event - some leaves must fall first. When a child leaves this world it is more often as not seen as ‘a waste’, something dreadfully wrong. This is the stance that drains me because I believe with all my being that the opposite is true. Gut wrenchingly painful it may be to lose a child, but does that make it wrong and the life wasted? Do we only lovingly parent our children so that they may live to the age we expect them to? Or, might a five year old have lived five precious fulfilling years and have no need of living more?
I want to beg people not to say to me - You must be feeling this...or that, but to ask me how I do feel. Misreading my reality and making negative suggestions as to how I must be makes uncomfortable dialogue, which is sad given that the opposite is intended. People are well meaning and often don’t know what to say to the bereaved... all that is needed to gain rapport is something simple like, “I’m sorry about your son”.
I think it is important to start looking at how we face death NOW. I want to encourage those whose natural instinct is to avoid looking at death to do as Beauty did in the fairytale Beauty and the Beast. She was frightened but she dared to look the beast in the face and to be open to who he really was, rather than what he looked like or what others said about him. And when she gave herself the chance to understand his true nature he turned into a handsome prince, they fell in love and lived happily ever after.
We talk about Egyptian myths, Greek myths, but we have our own myths right now. The story of Benjaya is as important as those myths. Society in general hasn’t allowed itself to feel pain, and so the whole of society has been built around pain being present but not allowing it to be real, to exist. So society fears the pain that is our blessing. I do not feel that around Benjaya’s death which is why I’m calling it a living myth. It has stretched my heart in a way that nothing else could.
Birth, Death and Beyond
Reading Benjaya’s Gifts was like listening to Mozart. This gripping story is like that of the classical sonata form. In the overwhelmingly triumphant first movement we start with the major subjects expressed by members of the family. This is followed by a slow movement with the same orchestral line up but of almost unbearable sadness. It ripples out and mysteriously develops into something extraordinarily strong and confident. Ending with a short scherzo which is beautifully written and practical to the nth degree.
It is not only because of my own personal experience as a bereaved parent that I found this such a remarkable book. It truly touches something so complex and so simple - the vastness within a little child - that it deserves a wide and thoughtful readership.
(Francis Kinsman, Resurgence Magazine December 1997)
Mysteries of Birth and Death
Compiled by Benjaya’s mother and grandmother, Benjaya’s Gifts vividly and movingly describes his birth and death from the viewpoint of numerous people who were connected with him. The book expresses their understanding of the processes of life and its eternal nature. Benjaya’s family are deeply committed to their spiritual paths but you don’t need to share their particular beliefs to find wisdom and insight in this story. Much of what they say is common to many religious and mystical traditions.
Even the most thorough-going materialist, reading this book with an open mind, might reflect usefully on the inadequate way our society generally handles both birth and death. Not the least of little Benjaya’s gifts would be to inspire us to deal with them more sensitively.
(Bob Mann, Totnes Times January 1997)
Adam House and its family exist. This story is real yet transcends any concept of reality we had known until its telling. The book took 10 years to produce from Benjaya's birth to publication, almost a quarter of Carmella's life and more than one sixth of mine. As we wrote, it honed and shaped us, filling us with a sense of Presence.
It held a life of its own... and still does, drawing people towards Adam House and the Healing Sanctuary where Benjaya was born, to discover whatever they need to discover in the tranquillity that remains undisturbed by the passing of life.
To have ‘midwifed’ Benjaya both in and out of life in this world has been a precious gift. I would not have chosen such a gift - what mother would? - but in living this story to its fullest and embracing the mysteries and shadows of birth and death I have been positively transformed. It is a joy to welcome others into the heart of this family journey because in so doing, the learning and healing process continues to weave its magic, and mourning continues to break.
More on Mourning Has Broken
Mourning Has Broken is a book filled with stories told to the author by people from many walks of life and nationalities who have broken through rather than broken down after facing trauma or adversity. It is for anyone being tested by life or with wounds that need healing, and for anyone who is working in, or simply interested in, the field of healing and transformation. Daniel Goleman, who wrote Emotional Intelligence, calls it "a handbook for healing a broken heart" but you don't have to have a broken heart to be moved and enriched by these powerful stories.
The individual challenges of cancer, AIDS, divorce, the prospect of death, a car crash, a house fire, suicide, war, and the collective challenge of the events of September 11th, are all given voice.
The book contains practical keys to handling the shadows of life and beginning the process of healing. Questions and Reflections pages give exercises to assist the process of personal transformation and to help with integration of the learning. However, Mourning has Broken goes far beyond practical help regarding recovery - it is an inspirational book that feeds the hunger for greater meaning and purpose in life.
Carmella B'Hahn speaks from a place of deep personal experience, an initiation brought about by the drowning of her first son, Benjaya. This event subsequently became her greatest teacher. She seeks to raise spirits, leaving readers enriched and more optimistic about their own life path, and she sets out to answer the question: How can those facing the greatest hardships take this opportunity to wake up from automatic pilot and stand strong and resilient in the face of further challenge? In doing so she has produced a potential blueprint for holistic healing in our lives.
"Your book is so profound, so wonderful, so multi-faceted. I personally resounded with many of the pieces. Overall, FABULOUS - a real gift that will resound and resound. It is perfectly inspiring. No problem with it being too depressing at all. It's well written, well organized, represents a lot of different perspectives, and by moving through this 'crucible' you are changed - in ways that are not easy to pinpoint - and that to me is the only mark of great work. I loved it and I thank you from the bottom of my soul for sharing this with me. Congratulations."
Laura Parker Roerdon, Boston
"You have done a fabulous job. The presentation is solid, clear, engaging, meaningful, powerful, touching etc. I believe you have a winner here."
Elaine Seiler, World Traveler
"…it is utterly beautiful. What you have to say is always haunting but the way you say it is so evocative and poetic."
Morna Martell, New York City
Thanks so much for writing Mourning Has Broken. We have recently relocated to upstate New York as we were living two blocks from Ground Zero. My 5-year-old daughter and I were standing four blocks away in her schoolyard when it happened. Reading your book helped me to connect with a lot of pain around that experience and has aided my healing process in a profound way… Thanks for the inspiration.”
Lynn Fischer, New York
"I am on the last chapter of Mourning is Broken and am enjoying it soooo much. I love the stories, the wise discussions, the themes and how it weaves a web of wholeness, returning to itself to build ever stronger layers of knowing."
NCP, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
"Your book is incredible -- powerful, and such an act of love. It touched an incredible chord and offered help in the face of recent trauma where the rest of us could not go."
Alison S, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
"The stories are wonderfully told... Your comments are right on. I have marked several of them and hope to be able to use them in my workshops and perhaps in my new book. I will certainly reference you and in the case of workshops, urge people to get your book."
JHG, New York City
"It's clear that this is one really, really good and important book... good for you — you clearly are providing a significant service with this book. Bless you, bless you!"
Julie G, Whidbey Island, USA
"Thank you for your lovely new book. Wow, what a contribution to the world at this moment when so many are experiencing such wrenching heartbreak. And what a wonderful learning tool for everyone on the spiritual path. I am so touched by these stories. I can't thank you enough for this unexpected and most precious gift, and I will cherish it... Know that I am learning from you each day as I read your wonderful book."
Sue K., USA
"Just wanted to write to say how much your book Mourning has Broken has touched me. I am a 44 yr. old woman who has had a share in suffering in one way or another and while reading your book there was a profound 'YES'... a leaping forward. The honesty in it is so valuable. So a BIG THANK YOU!!!!"
Reviews of Mourning Has Broken
“…ignites the reader's courage to face and move through adversity and affliction, with dignity, grace, depth of faith & increased character."
Angeles Arrien, author of The Four-Fold Way
"Mourning Has Broken is inspiring, wise, and practical -- a handbook for healing a broken heart. Real intelligence about emotions."
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
"This book illuminates a practical framework for healing from loss and trauma and offers pearls of wisdom that help put suffering in a wider and richer context."
Linda Lantieri, Educators for Social Responsibility
Director of Inner Resilience Project (New York City)
"...an intelligent and deeply touching read. I think this book has a great deal to contribute, not only to people who are immersed in adverse life situations, but also to help professionals with supporting others in a similar situation. It touched me in a deeply profound way."
Spirituality and Health International (Volume 5 Issue 1 2004)
"Mourning Has Broken is of particular appeal to me since I have a certification in Thanatology and am also certified in Death and Grief Studies. I especially liked that Carmella included so many different stories about loss, not just the loss one experiences when a loved one dies. There are other losses people endure that may elicit as much, if not more, pain. This broad framework of loss is commonly overlooked when addressing grief..."
Marc A. Markell, Reclaiming Children and Youth (Winter 2003)
"Moving, realistic, practical, challenging, grounded in genuine experience."
Caduceus Magazine (Issue 59, Spring 2003)
"This is a well written and inspiring book, which is well worth a read by anyone interested in working with victims of trauma, or anyone experiencing their own difficulties and seeking support and guidance."
Natalie Hayes, LifeRites Magazine (Summer 2003)
"A remarkable follow-up to the author’s earlier book, Benjaya’s Gifts. As Daniel Goleman says: A handbook for healing the broken heart."
David Lorimer, Science and Medical Network’s Network Review (Summer 2003)
"...a guide to healing the soul... all who have suffered should at least check out. Full of practical advice on how to survive trauma, Carmella's book goes way beyond the accepted survival techniques."
Marthe Gomer, The Daily Express (November 16th, 2002)
Order a Book
FROM THE UK
£8.50 (free P&P)
(Not now available in bookstores)
Mourning Has Broken
£10.99 (£1.00 off plus free P&P)
Special Deal for both books
£18.50 (postage included, UK)
NB: Mourning Has Broken Pre-publication copies (look identical to the perfected version but contain some typographical errors) are still available for £7 each (postage free).
Payable by cheque to Carmella B'Hahn
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FROM THE USA
Order Mourning Has Broken on-line from
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