Grief counselor pens mystery novel
Viera resident Dr. John Baggett's fourth book is titled "Desperate Amends."
photo by Diane Baggett
One of Dr. John Baggett’s last books explored the mystery of faith. His new novel is simply an old-fashioned mystery.
The Viera resident and retired Methodist pastor’s latest work, “Desperate Amends,” tells the story of a pastor drummed out of his church for alcoholism. The fallen pastor becomes a chaplain at a prison in Raleigh, N.C., and starts counseling a death row inmate.
“The plot has him helping the prisoner prepare for execution, and the prisoner is trying to manipulate the chaplain to avoid his execution,” Baggett said of his 374-page paperback. “Running through it is the question of whether this guy is really guilty of what he’s convicted for or not. So there’s a plot there as well.”
It’s the fourth book for Baggett, who is also a facilitator at a grief support group that meets at Suntree United Methodist Church, 7400 N. Wickham Road. His wife, Diane, also works with the group.
Baggett’s previous work, “Finding the Good in Grief: Rediscovering Joy After a Life-changing Loss,” is often used by support group members. That book came out in 2013 and is Baggett’s most popular work, he said.
Another book, “Seeing Through the Eyes of Jesus,” was published in 2008 and “is a more scholarly book used in college and seminary classes,” he said.
When he’s not working on a planned sequel to “Desperate Amends,” Baggett, his wife and other experts are helping Brevard County residents coping with devastating loss. Their Suntree Grief Journey Support Group meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. every second Tuesday and Thursday at the church from September to May, with monthly dinners from June through August. About 25 people attend each meeting, John Baggett said.
“There are many life-changing losses, not just death and dying,” Baggett said. And so we encourage people to come if they’ve had a divorce, or whatever they’re grieving over. Most of the people who come to us have had a death in the family. But we’ve also had people who have serious diagnoses, who have become disabled.”
A typical meeting can feature a speaker or cover a topic about grief and loss that’s discussed in a larger group before class members break into smaller groups for further talks, Baggett said. “It’s there that people get into some in-depth sharing of their own journey and experiences,” he said. “And it’s sort of a group process whereby we help people identify where they are, get oriented to where they are in the journey. And they find a strength and courage and hope from other people who are on the journey.”
The Baggetts have lots of experience in grief counseling. John has a doctorate in psychiatric anthropology and provided pastoral counseling for years. Diane is a certified grief counselor and a certified life coach with a background in psychiatric nursing.
“People stay as long as they need to stay or feel they need to stay,” Baggett said of the classes. “So we have people who will rotate in and out and we also have people who have decided that they want to keep coming for a while.”