The Trail to Tincup

Love Stories at Life’s End

In The Trail to Tincup: Love Stories at Life’s End, a psychologist reckons with the loss of four family members within a span of two years. Hocker works backward into the lives of these people and forward into the values, perspective, and qualities they bestowed before and after leaving. Following the trail to their common gravesite in Tincup, Colorado, she remembers and recounts decisive stories and delves into artifacts, journals, and her own dreams. In the process the grip of grief begins to lessen, death braids its way into life, and life informs the losses with abiding connections. Gradually, she begins to find herself capable of imagining life without her sister and best friend. Toward the end of the book Hocker’s own near-death experience illuminates how familiarity with her individual mortality helps her live with joy, confidence, and openness.

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Praise for The Trail to Tincup

The Trail to Tincup is achingly honest, utterly compelling, and very, very necessary. Grief is ostensibly the subject matter here, but the reader will finish the book with a desire to live, love, and laugh, and to celebrate the tender act of living, right here, right now. Hocker is a brave writer, that’s for sure. More importantly, she is wise, and inspiring. This cup overflows with evocative, fearless and gorgeous writing. Highly recommended! This book is important, and it has the potential to change lives. There is no higher praise than that.
Richard Fifield, author of The Flood Girls

Joyce Hocker’s inspirational story of her journey through profound grief reminds us all that deep loss stems from even deeper love. This book offers both understanding and hope to anyone who has faced, or is facing, the darkness of grieving.

Melanie P. Merriman, PhD, former hospice consultant and the award wining author of Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging
As Joyce Hocker says in The Trail to Tincup, “death ends a life but it does not end relationships,” and in this book she skillfully takes us through her incredibly painful journey of love, loss, and relational change. Hocker’s account outlines what may be one of the most tragic amalgamations of loss ever: father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, sister, mother, and father, in a short period of time. Through it all, Hocker struggled with intense grief while moving through relational difficulties with her husband, her family, and herself. Hocker’s story teaches us that even the worst circumstances are redeemable through courageous storying, remembering, and meaning-making.
Christine Salkin Davis, Professor, Communication Studies Dept., University of North Carolina at Charlotte; author of Death: The Beginning of a Relationship and Talking through Death: Communicating about Death in Interpersonal, Mediated, and Cultural Contexts

In The Trail to Tincup, Joyce Lynnette Hocker reckons with the loss of multiple family members but shows how love measures the height and depth of grief. She tells a remarkable tale of self-recovery in which lives end but are resurrected through memory and the process of writing. For anyone struggling with loss and the love that binds us to those we cherished, The Trail to Tincup places signposts along the path, shows how to bear both the beams of love and loss, and suggests ways that the distinction between life and death may be less absolute than we think. This is a well-crafted book written by a fine writer who has plumbed the depths of her own story.

Thomas Frentz, Professor, University of Arkansas; author of Trickster in Tweed

In The Trail to Tincup, Hocker takes readers on a journey through the valley of intense personal grief evoked by the sudden death of her beloved sister Janice. Working with her pain and suffering rather than seeking to overcome it, she provides a rare and honest glimpse into the soul and spirit of grief and sadness. Hocker emerges from the valley of suffering with a glow of love, insight, self-understanding, and wisdom. The Trail to Tincup is more than a memoir; it is an inquiry on meaning making, on what it means to be present to oneself-a generous gift to the life force.

Distinguished University Professor of Communication, Univ. of South Florida; author of Coming to Narrative: A Personal History of Paradigm Change in the Human Sciences; University of South Florida
Hocker writes from the heart. Trail to Tincup pulsates with tenderness in traversing peaks and hollows of her family’s life. The book captures the majesty and mystery of a Rocky Mountain ghost town as a backdrop for Hocker’s soulful memoir.
Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well, The Four Things That Matter Most