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Local mother helps others cope with loss through new children’s book
Kristin Petti author
Kristin Pettit of Turlock poses with her new children’s book, “My Memories are My Own and Mine Alone,” a story about preserving memories of a loved one who has passed away (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Not all people process a loss the same way. For Kristin Pettit of Turlock, it took nearly 15 years after the suicide of her first husband in 2004 for her to share one of her many feelings with the world.

In 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pettit poured herself a glass of wine, went inside her pool, and began writing her thoughts away. In 15 minutes, she had written a story of a family of butterflies, each dealing with the loss of a loved one in a different way. The main theme of the story was each butterfly having a different way of remembering their loved one, which resulted in arguments.

“My memories are my own and mine alone,” one kept repeating, hammering home the message that each person’s memories of that person should never be discounted or devalued.

“I had two young children at the time of their dad’s death,” Pettit shared. “Everybody has their own way of looking at him and remembering him. Good memories and bad memories, because he was struggling at the time. It was a rough time. As far as coping with the death of their dad, I still wanted my kids to have those good memories.

“It's important to validate people's feelings and their memories. When people try to say, ‘Oh, he was like this and not the way you remember,’ that makes them question things. They stop talking and it stops from getting the healing that they need. If you remember a person a certain way, that’s just the perspective you have. You have a right to feel those feelings and have the memories you do. They’re yours and they’re valid.”

Pettit had always had an affinity for reading and writing, and followed her gut to get the story published. After three years of working through the illustrating and publishing process, “My Memories are My Own and Mine Alone” was released on Feb. 18 through Amazon. 

At the time of her husband’s death, Pettit and her family were living in Half Moon Bay. They moved to Turlock in 2005 as it was a slower-paced, tight knit community. A few years later, still processing the loss and the impact it had on her children, she confided in the folks at Jessica’s House, the Turlock-based nonprofit Jessica’s House that provides grief support to children and families, to help her heal.

Pettit studied social work in college and currently works as a special education paraprofessional at a local elementary school. Prior to her current job, she volunteered at Jessica’s House for a short time, an experience that inspired her to move forward in publishing the book.

“Many times, when you mention suicide, or any other type of death, nobody wants to talk. Nobody wants to talk about it and they stop talking to you because it’s awkward. But it’s really important,” she said.

The concept of using butterflies in the picture book stemmed from her sister, and friend LeNia Stitt joined the project to provide the illustrations. 

As the story progresses and as one of the butterfly’s memories of their loved one keeps getting corrected by its peers, he loses color. On some of the pages, it is just black and white, portraying the feeling of isolation when one's feelings are brushed aside and discounted. It comes back into color as it yells the phrase louder and louder and takes ownership of the treasured memories of the loved one.

As an ode to the nonprofit that helped her family, the first copy ever printed was donated to Jessica’s House. And while the story was originally intended for children, it has had an impact on individuals of all ages.

“I got a text from a friend of mine the other day with different dynamics in their family. Something had happened, and even though it wasn't related to death, it was related to different sibling memories. This (book) helped them  through that,” Pettit said. “And this person was an adult, so it just kind of surprised me. It was unexpected.

“It makes me feel like I did the right thing. It made me feel like I really was supposed to follow that gut instinct to do this book. It makes it feel right. And it's making a difference, and that's all that I wanted.
My Memories are My Own and Mine Alone can be purchased in paperback form on Amazon at