The Light Streamed Beneath It: A Memoir of Grief and Celebration

Hitchins, Shawn

  • A Publishers Weekly Notable Book
    49th Shelf Recommended Read

    A modern gay memoir exploring love, death, pain, and community that will resonate long after the last page.

    “This is an embodied story of love, loss, and recovery — raw, candid, and filled with a sense of awe at human resilience.” — Shelf Awareness

    “A timely story so human, so beautiful, so bravely told with heart and humour.” — Rosie O’Donnell

    A lifetime of finding punchlines in his heartache comes to a shuddering stop when comedian and writer Shawn Hitchins loses two great loves, five months apart, to sudden death. In this deeply poignant memoir that combines sober self-portrait with tender elegy, Hitchins explores the messiness of being alive: the longing and desire, scorching-earth anger, raw grief — and the pathway of healing he discovers when he lets his heart remain open.

    Never without an edge of self-awareness, The Light Streamed Beneath It invites the reader into Hitchins’s world as he reckons with his past and stays painfully in the present. As he builds an embodied future, he confronts the stories that have shaped him, sets aside his ambition, and seeks connection in what he used to deflect with laughter — therapy, community and chosen family, movement, spirituality, and an awareness of death’s ever-presence.

    A heartrending and hope-filled story of resilience in the wake of death, The Light Streamed Beneath It joyfully affirms that life is essentially good, as Hitchins weaves his tale full of tenacious spirit, humor, kindness, and grit through life’s most unforgiving challenges.


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  • Shawn Hitchins is the author of A Brief History of Oversharing (ECW, 2017). His one-man show Ginger Nation toured extensively before being filmed in concert. Hitchins is an award-winning entertainer, writer, personality, and creator of live performance. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he splits himself between Eastern and Pacific time zones.

  • Published: October 2021

    ISBN: 9781770415614

    Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.25 in.

    Pages: 232


“This is an embodied story of love, loss and recovery — raw, candid and filled with a sense of awe at human resilience.” — Shelf Awareness

“Shawn Hitchins’s writing is generous, beautiful, and fearless in its authenticity; it so warmly embraces love and all that it means to experience it. Each page of The Light Streamed Beneath It is a celebration of life and the complexity of humanity, assuring every reader that we’re not alone in our darkness or loss. Frankly, it is one of the most important books that I’ve read.” — Anne T. Donahue, author of Nobody Cares

“A timely story so human, so beautiful, so bravely told with heart and humour.” — Rosie O’Donnell

“An astoundingly beautiful book that offers readers a heartbreaking yet hopeful story of resilience that ultimately celebrates life — even if it does so in the shadow of insurmountable loss.” — CBC Arts

“Hitchins breathes so much life into a book about death, and he gives both partners second lives through honest and loving depictions of his time with them.” — Xtra Magazine

“With a writing style that is both unabashedly honest and lyrically beautiful, Shawn Hitchins lays bare what it means to love, grieve, and rediscover life.” — The Ampersand Review

“Deeply moving and beautifully told, The Light Streamed Beneath It manages the remarkable: to share an impossibly sad story with vulnerability and tenderness while also carrying us through the pain with care and grace — and even weaving in joy, desire, and utter aliveness along the way. Shawn Hitchins’s path of rebuilding trust in life after absolute heartbreak will stay with me always.” — Christa Couture, author of How to Lose Everything

“In his moving and eloquent memoir, Shawn Hitchins beautifully explores the messiness of our human lives, and reminds us not to mourn what we lose but to celebrate what we gain. While grief is inevitable in every life, The Light Streamed Beneath It serves as a radiant testament that our strongest armour is an open and unafraid heart.” — Brian Francis, author of Fruit and Missed Connections

The Light Streamed Beneath It offers a viscerally honest retelling of aftermath, all those feelings upon feelings still fresh in memory, all the pain still very much present in the author’s day-to-day life. Yet despite being a book about death, this memoir vibrates with life, love, and desire, all while beautifully honouring those who are gone, the gifts they have given, and the community they have left behind.” — Open Book

“Hitchins pursues self-knowledge, growth and healing in a vulnerable memoir for any reader who has experienced loss.” — Shelf Awareness

The Light Streamed Beneath It represents exactly the kind of queer transformation story Hitchins wanted it to be – a frank accounting of pain alongside a valediction for love and community.” — That Shakespearean Rag