I was lucky enough to snag two book reviews for BlogHer this month! You all know I have definitely needed the distractions and the two I chose to read were definitely up my alley. This particular book is a memoir. I just love memoirs. There is something absolutely captivating about reading through someone's life and the journey they experienced to get where they are as the writer of their own life story. When I was fresh into my grief journey after losing Andrew, I read both Elizabeth Edward's memoir, Resilience, and Elizabeth McCracken's memoir about losing her baby and picking up the pieces again to find joy in her life.
Memoirs are rich. They provide so much insight and allow you to carry on the shoulder of the person as they re-evaluate and contemplate their heavy life decisions while inviting you in to celebrate in their victories. Like any good story, there is almost always tragedy and struggle-- and this particular memoir written by Claire Bidwell Smith is no different. Girlfriend experiences tons of grief. She loses her mom and dad to cancer and is left to deal with the grief as a single individual with very little family left to support her. I was immediately drawn to this memoir based on the description about her funneling back and forth in the land of grief while still living. The stages of grief are present and mentioned as her story moves in and out of the five stages.
The story of Claire's life is written in pieces throughout the memoir as she travels back and forth between specific points in her life and back to the land of knee-deep. Grief can sometimes make a person irrational, as I know firsthand. It can make you do things or say things that aren't always with best intentions or thought. She battled through her fair share of relationship struggles and alcohol abuse. She was honest about these accounts, as damaging as they were. I found so much of her story relate-able as I've obviously been rocked to my very core in losing my son. So many of her thoughts have been at one point or another, my thoughts too.
It will be months and months, possibly even years, before this isn't the first thing I think about when I wake up. (In speaking of her mother's death.) Boy can I relate to that.
She disappeared the night my mother died and I was never going to see her again (talking about herself). Losing someone you love can change you. It forms you into a new person.
I've learned quickly, though, that this is a conversation stopper (speaking of death). Unless the person I'm talking to has been through something equally terrible or sad, they don't know what to say.
There's something incredibly lonely about grieving. It's like living in a country where no one speaks the same language as you. When you come across someone who does, you feel as though you could talk for hours. Hello my BLM blogger friends!
...the single most powerful healing mechanism I've found is simple presence. The opportunity for a person to feel seen and heard in the middle of one of the loneliest experiences in their life can have a profound effect. Something I wish more strangers understood. I don't want answers or explanations that justify my son's death.
Claire's memoir was quite powerful and incredibly heartbreaking. In many ways, every love story is. You may shed a few tears, but I do recommend Claire's memoir. In her words: When I talk to grieving people, it's like looking at a negative image-- the deeper the grief, the more evidence of love I see.
It's not that loss goes away. It's just that you learn to live with it. I'm still working on that one, Claire.
I was compensated for this BlogHer Club book review, but all opinions expressed are my own. If you'd like to check out discussions on BlogHer about the book, go here. I'll be discussing there.
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