"Shade it black": Turning Sorrow into Wisdom

I never stop being fascinated with stories of people who go through hardship and then gather enough strength and willpower to help or inspire others. One of such stories is related in Jess Goodell’s memoir, “Shade it black: Death and after in Iraq.” Goodell was a marine and when she was serving in Iraq, her task was to recover and process the remains of fallen soldiers.


Despite her best intentions, the remains of some soldiers could only partially be recovered; the body parts that were missing were shaded in black in the official military documents she had to prepare. She was also responsible for documenting and returning to families anything that the soldiers carried in their pockets: from spoons and trash to photos of girlfriends and fetuses that would become their children.

When Goodell came back from Iraq, she was told not to share her experiences with the civilians, so as not to expose them to the darkest yes unavoidable side of any war. Yet, having struggled with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for several years, the former marine has not only confronted and described her experiences, but wants to help other veterans cope with their horrific memories. She started her education in a community college and is now pursuing her PhD in psychology, so she can become a counselor who will combine her knowledge of psychology with her own weighty past.

Follow the link to listen to an extensive interview with Jess Goodell on NPR’s Fresh Air



Karo Caran, the Rainbow Poetess, is a poet and a non/fiction writer. Her novel, "Breaking the silence: A story in paintings" focuses on the censorship of art and gay relationships in the postwar, communist Poland. Her poetry-based memoir, "Life in a Footnotes" will be published this summer.
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