Debbie Ford, the best-selling self-help author, has died at her San Diego home after a long struggle with cancer. Ford’s problem-plagued life served as inspiration for millions of readers, and her tragic death has saddened fans worldwide.
Here’s what you should know Ford’s triumph’s and struggles in her life and career.
1. She Became Famous after Publishing The Dark Side of the Light Chasers
As her first self-help book, “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, published in 1998, aimed to help readers break free from emotional baggage and fear. It hit No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Debbie spent five years and $50,000 seeking to find who she was. She tried all kinds of spiritual practices, mind control, therapy, hypnosis rebirthing, Buddhist retreats, Sufi dancing, and more. Nothing seemed to quell her insecurities and unhappiness. She found “the light” (happiness) through various praying and spiritual practices. She explains it was during one of those moments that she realized “how to embrace the world within me.” She shares her process and philosophy in this book.
2. She Fought Cancer for More than a Decade
Debbie was first diagnosed 11 years ago. According to her doctor, it was only in the last year or so that she been feeling the worst effects. Although the specific type of cancer is not known, it has been revealed that it is a very rare type.
3. She Wrote Nine Self-Help Books since 1998
She wrote: The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, The Secret of the Shadow, Spiritual Divorce, The Right Questions, The Best Year of Your Life, Why Good People Do Bad Things, The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse, The Shadow Effect and Courage. Within her books she teaches how to acknowledge and accept peoples’ weaknesses, as these qualities may be important and hidden strengths.
4. She Used to be a Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol
In an interview Ford admitted that she was already in her fourth drug treatment center by age 27. Alcohol and drugs had apparently been a part of her life since her parents divorced when she was a kid, and she failed to get clean various times. It was this failure that inspired her philosophy: One must accept one’s faults and move on.
She was able to let go of her addiction and live a sober life up until her death. Her struggle with substances are detailed in her books. In an interview with New Connexion, Ford explained:
I grew up feeling very unwanted, not good enough, angry and depressed. When I was 13 my parents got divorced — a horrible incident for me. I turned to drugs. For 15 years I spent my life in alleys, living that kind of life. By 28, I was in so much pain, I knew I was either going to die or get better. That began my search: If I was going to live sober, without drugs, how could I love myself, be happy, feel great in this world?
5. Her Family Published Open Letter to Fans
Debbie’s sister Arielle has published an open letter to fans about the self-help authors passing. In it, she reveals that Debbie was “tired and ready to go.”
6. She Admitted She Was Angry at God
Upon her Cancer diagnosis, Debbie admitted to Oprah that she was angry at God for her misfortune:
So, yes, I was mad at God because of the cancer diagnosis. I thought I should have been protected because of the work I do in the world.
In a later interview she said she had made peace with her diagnosis and accepted her fate.
7. Her Son Donated All His Bar-Mitzvah Money
Debbie’s son Beau was inspired by his mother and used all money given to him during his bar-mitzvah to build a school in a small town in Uganda. With his mother’s help, he raised $80,000 and was able to build two schools.
8. Her Difficult Divorce Inspired Her Work
Debbie admits in her books to have gone through a rough divorce. It was this moment in her life that inspired her toward meditation and ultimately to spiritual rejuvenation. She was incredibly open about her broken marriage and wrote in depth about it in Spiritual Divorce. It was the loneliness, depression and heartbreak that catalyzed her desire to write and help others. She wrote her first book right after her separation.
After a year of being married, I woke up and came to the bone-chilling realization that my marriage wasn’t going to work out. Even though I wasn’t married long, I had waited until I was 38 years old to marry because I wanted to make sure that I made the right choice, that I married the perfect husband who could support me in creating the perfect family. My divorce wasn’t just the death of a relationship, it was the death of a dream I had held since I was a little girl. I was completely devastated.
9. She Believed in Accepting the Good and the Bad about Yourself
Within Ford’s multiple books, she shows how to integrate people’s dualistic nature. She urges her readers to love both the good and the shortcomings. In her words, she explains that people must embrace their “shadow” (dark side):
My goal is to make people see themselves beyong their mask beyond their persona.
Her sister Arielle posted the above video on Debbie’s website after her death.
10. She Is Known Internationally
Her books have sold over 1 million copies and are translated in 43 languages. Her work is used in institutions of learning and psychological healing worldwide. She had appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, the WNBC Morning Show and just about all other media outlets that New York Times bestselling self-help authors consider important. She also produced and directed The Shadow Effect — a film geared to teach people about her philosophical findings.