AFTER five months of research turned into 30, Ian Donaghy launches his latest book, a 200-page cuddle for friends in need this Christmas, this evening in York. All are welcome at the Black Swan Inn, on Peasholme Green, at 7.30pm.

Donaghy's aim is to provide a survival guide for people to find "The Missing Peace". "It’s not a morose bereavement book. It won’t tell you how you should be feeling. It is a book about how to be a better friend when your friends lose someone," says the effervescent North Easterner, best known for leading the York party band Huge.

As with Donaghy’s previous book Dear Dementia – available in all libraries and respected as one of only 25 books on Alzheimer's Books on Prescription list – he has sought to fill a gap to "get people talking and, even better, listening".

"As we all grow older, our favourite characters are written out of our lives and we have to carry on without them," he says. "Friends often feel powerless, so terrified of saying the wrong thing that they may say nothing, leaving their friend bereft and isolated as they don’t get back to the open-ended 'Give me a buzz if you need anything' comment."

Consequently, the book highlights the power of kindness and, in typical Big Ian style, offers some more maverick ideas."It's a scrapbook of monologues and stories from interviews and conversations I've had with people all over the UK in my work with older people and children," says Donaghy, whose research took in bereavement groups, hospices, nurses, doctors and parents.

"I've been invited in by some of the most inspirational, wonderful people, who have shared their innermost thoughts and emotions to help others, so thank you to them.

"I originally allocated five months to write it, but it was too important to rush, and that's why it's instead taken 30 months to go from idea to print."

Gazette & Herald:

Author Ian Donaghy in his most familiar guise as Big Ian, frontman of the York band Huge

The Missing Peace does not look like any other book, Donaghy says. "It's 12cm by 18cm so it fits into a handbag or iPad case. It has beautiful illustrations on every page but its key feature is it comes with a highlighter pen," he explains.

"The thinking is that you read the short stories, you highlight the bit where you feel the same and then you realise it’s not just you then. At that point, you may be more welcoming of help or more open to offer it to a friend.

"The book isn’t a magic wand, a flow chart through the grieving process, and it won’t kiss it better, but it will start the conversation you may need to have between siblings, family or friends."

Within its pages, The Missing Peace addresses the complexities of family, funerals, excluding children from the grieving process and the use of social media.

Every chapter is named after a song including Everybody Hurts, I Don’t Wanna Talk About It, These Foolish Things and All You Need Is Love. "Possibly the most important of all is My Way, a six-page chapter at the end of the book that is left blank for the reader to fill in themselves because there is no right or wrong way through this, only right for you," says Donaghy.

"The Missing Peace celebrates the power of kindness and shows the impact you can make on yourself and others. The stories, monologues and chapters will make you smile, some will make you cry but they will all make you think.

"We're all broken biscuits when we lose someone. We can either dwell on the cracks or make the best cheesecake ever!"

The Missing Peace: Creating A Life After Death, by Ian Donaghy, will be available from the weekend on Amazon and at Browns department store in Davygate, York.