Marian University Student Success Story – Beth Bolthouse

February 23, 2021

Thanatology graduate publishes book

As a licensed processional counselor, Beth Bolthouse entered Marian University’s online Master of Science in Thanatology degree program knowing little about posttraumatic growth. Now, she’s a published author on it.

Recently made available for purchase on Amazon, the December 2019 graduate’s capstone project “From Loss to Life: How to Transform Your Life after Traumatic Loss” was created for small groups and individual self-study. Incorporating the five measures of Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun’s research on posttraumatic growth – appreciation for life, relationship with self and others, personal strength, new possibilities, and spiritual development – the workbook was designed to help anyone struggling with loss utilize practical tools that encourage adaptation, transformation and resilience.

“Without the program I wouldn’t have learned of posttraumatic growth, and I’m really glad my studies at Marian gave me the knowledge to develop a workbook in this format, because it’s so important for grievers to have practical help for navigating their grief journey,” said Beth, a bereavement counselor at Harbor Hospice in Muskegon, Mich., and an adjunct professor at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids.

Beth graduated in 2003 with a Master’s in Biblical Counseling from Cornerstone University and established a professional counseling ministry at a local church. In 2009 she created the Life Investment Network, a small private practice focused on helping individuals realize that their life matters, and establishing connections with mental health professionals, spiritual mentors, and others in support of that journey. During this time she worked part-time at hospice, then moved into the full-time bereavement position.

“All of my knowledge on grief and loss was self-taught, and I really wanted to learn more and was looking for something that would add credibility to what I was doing,” she said.

Enter Dr. Janet McCord, Marian University’s Department of Thanatology Chair, whose reputation as a leader in the field became apparent to Beth while researching possible degree paths. Looking more into the program, Beth realized it had everything she needed to continue working and helping others while still pursuing an advanced degree.

“With it being 100% online, it was always manageable, and it always went at a really good pace,” Beth said. “I had enough time to work on the assignments, I enjoyed the virtual discussions with my classmates, and it was really simple to incorporate into my life.”

In fact, Beth was able to balance the class with writing another book, this one focused on individuals wounded in religious settings. While that work was what initially caught the attention of her publisher – a friend she knew from Cornerstone University – the pair thought publishing her capstone project would be beneficial while they wait for her to complete the project by the end of 2021.

“All of this really wouldn’t have come to fruition without Marian University and its Thanatology program, so I am incredibly grateful for my time in it, and am glad that what I’ve learned will be able to help others, now and in the future,” she said.