Dec 01

“Permission to Grieve” Your Own Way

Permission to Grieve: Creating Grace, Space, & Room to Breathe in the Aftermath of Loss (2019) by Shelby Forsythia, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, preceded last year’s Your Grief, Your Way: A Year of Practical Guidance and Comfort After Loss by the same author. (These are two of many notable books on grief.)

I. Permission to Grieve

“Drawing on her experience as a grieving person and two years’ worth of interviews with grief experts like Megan Devine, Kerry Egan, and Caleb Wilde, Shelby Forsythia makes the case for radical, self-honoring permission—free from personal judgement and society’s restrictive timelines and rules” (from the publisher).

Selected Quotes

The solution to grief is not a pain-free existence. It is allowing ourselves to grieve and witnessing ourselves in that process. Permission and presence are the remedies for agony and isolation.

When we grant ourselves permission to grieve, we make the experience of grief something we recognize, something we welcome into our lives. We allow it to show up the way it wants to through feelings, identities, and actions. We write our own expectations and stories. Our grief becomes ours again and we become more ourselves again because we actively choose to experience grief.

Grief looks, feels, and shows up differently to each person. Just like no two losses are alike, no two griefs are alike, either. You cannot know the full depth of another person’s experience and they cannot know the full depth of yours.

II. Your Grief, Your Way

Every day of the year has its own page. A reader can take it day by day or can skip around. Some examples of tips and style that Goodreads reviewers appreciated:

I think my favorite suggestion was to add a phrase to everything I do when I feel I’m not doing enough. Just add – ‘while grieving’ to whatever you’re doing. It makes a difference and helps one realize we’re doing the best we can.

I loved the exercise where you are asked to take 5 random words and take them to describe the person.

It doesn’t preach at me, allowing my own worldview to remain at the center where I prefer it. It doesn’t tell me how to grieve, or why I should or shouldn’t feel a certain way, or anything else inappropriate. It simply sits with me and gives me permission to think, or to feel, or to cry, or to laugh, or to wonder, or to ache. It is brief and accessible, moving and graceful, without being terse and inadequate.

Selected Quotes from Your Grief, Your Way

With a loved one’s death, we step into a liminal space – we’ve stopped living our old life, but we’ve not yet stepped into our new one.

Grief is less like a predictable sequence and more like an amorphous blob of uncertainty. You can’t forecast your way out of grief, because there’s no way to determine when the next wave is coming. This may seem disheartening at first, but when you recognize that there is no structure for grief, you can stop trying to pinpoint exactly where you are on your journey. If there’s no road map, it’s impossible to be lost.

There is so much more to grief than just death. In losing someone, you lose their presence in every single moment and milestone that appears after their death. Every hope, dream, and expectation you had for the future must now be reworked, because the person you love can no longer be there. It’s normal to feel like you’re grieving multiple losses when someone dies.

Dec 02

Grief Books Plentiful: 5 Among the Newest

If anyone doubts that loss is a hot topic these days, look no further than Amazon’s pages and pages and pages of upcoming grief books slated for publication well into 2021.

Five recently published grief books are described below.

I. David Kessler, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief 

As expert David Kessler‘s Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief has already been covered in a broader post, I’ll simply provide a few pithy quotes:

Your loss is not a test, a lesson, something to handle, a gift, or a blessing. Loss is simply what happens to you in life. Meaning is what you make happen.

Healing doesn’t mean the loss didn’t happen. It means that it no longer controls us.

When someone dies, the relationship doesn’t die with them.

II. Fred Guttenberg, Find the Helpers: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope  

Notably, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland school shooting, reports that Joe Biden‘s empathy, understanding, and emphasis on finding purpose served as powerful influences for the author. But he’s just one of the helpers Guttenberg knows.

As reported in The Columbus Dispatch, the author has said, “I never thought of the people who surround me as helpers until after Jaime died. Now that I understand that we all have our helpers; we only need to be willing to look for them and accept the help.”

III. Shelby Forsythia, Your Grief, Your Way

Shelby Forsythia previously wrote the 2019 Permission to Grieve: Creating Grace, Space, & Room to Breathe in the Aftermath of Loss. As she stated then, “Grief looks, feels, and shows up differently to each person. Just like no two losses are alike, no two griefs are alike, either. You cannot know the full depth of another person’s experience and they cannot know the full depth of yours.”

IV. Maggie Smith, Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change

Well-regarded poet Maggie Smith, after going through a painful divorce, turned her focus toward assisting others with their grief processes.

From an interview with Mary Louise Kelly, NPR:

I sort of say that hope was like a garment that I tried on every day. And at first it was very oversized and itchy and misshapen and uncomfortable, and it didn’t fit at all. The idea of finding optimism in your darkest moment seems very counterintuitive, and it felt really strange, even though I knew it was probably what was best for me. But something really strange happened, which is that the more I tried it on for size, the better it fit, and also the more that I told myself it’s going to be OK, and told myself that publicly — being vulnerable in front of thousands of people — the response I got from people who were going through their own struggles, whether it was divorce or a diagnosis, the comfort that other people were receiving from what I was writing actually gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel better in that moment, which was completely unexpected.

V. Hope Edelman, The AfterGrief: Finding Your Way Along the Long Arc of Loss

In her highly popular (1994) Motherless Daughters, Hope Edelman stated, “Someone did us all a grave injustice by implying that mourning has a distinct beginning, middle, and end.”

Kirkus Reviews:

‘I wish there were a foolproof method for ‘getting over’ the death of someone we love,’ she writes in the lucid preamble. However, ‘everything I’ve experi­enced, learned, and observed over the past thirty-eight years has taught me otherwise’….(V)aried perspectives coalesce to show how grief endures longer than most people ever realize. Edelman emphasizes that while we may never truly outlive the fallout from loss, it becomes an element of life that can be integrated into our own unique versions of felicity.