What I’m Reading: Good Grief

 In books, grief

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When I first lost my daughter, so many people offered books that they believed would help me. Truthfully, I only wound up taking one or two of those suggestions to heart. I may read more of them later, but right now, I’m still pretty raw. I don’t want advice, I don’t want someone to tell me how I need to change my attitude and move on. I’m just not ready for all of that yet.

One friend, however, didn’t just suggest a book to me, she flat out placed it in my hands. All it took was a quick perusal of the back cover to realize that this was going to be something worth checking out. The author of “Good Grief!” is Erica McNeal, and she became a sort of kindred spirit to me long before I had even read a page of her book. How? I learned from reading the description paragraph that Erica is also a cancer survivor, and no stranger to having lost a child at a far stage in pregnancy. Needless to say, she had my attention.

As I’m reading this book, I find myself nodding along quite a bit. Erica gets it. She’s been there. She talks about things that I wondered if any other person has ever thought of or experienced, and she does it with a genuine honesty that I find extremely refreshing.

One passage I found particularly poignant was the section on things you should not say to those who are grieving. She brought up the common cliches and well-intentioned phrases that have become a staple in my daily conversations for the past 6 months, and all I could do was smile and nod at how right she was.

She gives wonderful advice, not just to those who are grieving, but to those who are around someone who is grieving, as well. Simple things like avoiding trivial blanket statements such as “Let me know if I can do anything for you!” and instead replacing that with, “I’m going to be bringing you a meal on Thursday, what time is good?” Many people who are grieving will not actually take you up on the offer to call if they need something, but they can agree to be around for a meal that you have already set up and plan on bringing anyway.

I cannot wait to finish this book. It has been so incredibly cathartic for me to see and realize that I am not alone in my suffering. Nothing will ever take away the pain of losing a child or walking through cancer, but it is immensely comforting to know that others have gone through similar things and are not just surviving, but thriving.

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