When Things Get Back to Normal 2nd ed. Edition, Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
I (age 29) lost my mom (age 55) equally suddenly, thee months ago, and I've had a hard time finding a book that spoke to me on the level I needed. The grief "handbooks" weren't doing it for me; I was put off by eminently qualified counselors and academics softly reassuring me about the "normal" steps of grieving. I headed into my mourning with an open mind, receptive to whatever my heart and head wanted to give me, so their reassurances rang hollow. Nor were flowery and poetic books giving me what I needed. I just wanted to read something, in a person's real voice, that resonated with the way I felt -- cheated, desperate, wounded. I found it in this little gem.
This book is private, sometimes raw and painful, and other times intimate and adoring, even funny. The journal-entry format makes it perfect for bite-size reading (and if you've just lost a loved one you may only be able to handle one of these perfect, painful little bites at a time). It is clearly written not by a counselor, but by a wife longing for her husband, in real-time and in her own voice. Anyone who has lost an intimate relative will recognize the adoration and longing she feels for him, and probably the occasional anger and resentment too. I know I saw my relationship with my mom in dozens of places in this book. She misses his little quirks, re-lives their old times and re-visits their future plans, left meaningless without him to share them. She records the everyday shocks and little losses, the downs of personal torment and the gradual little ups of healing, the larger meanings and philosophical questions of life after losing a loved one.
In the Afterword, Dohaney, a writer by profession, explains that that notebook she wrote these pages in was a gift from a friend just after her husband's death. She started keeping the journal just for herself, and only several years later did friends in the business convince her to publish it. Probably *because* it wasn't written with the eventual book in mind, her writing is the best of the first-person accounts I've seen.
I've finished the book now, but I think I've only progressed in my own mourning about as far as her half-way point. I have a sense I'll be re-reading this again and again as I go, feeling familiarity with more and more of it each time. I don't yet identify with the end of the book, where she starts to feel ready to live the rest of her life without her husband. I'm still stuck on the pain of the loss (recent mourners can relate, I'm sure) and somehow it makes me nervous/uneasy to think I'll ever be "over" the loss to that degree. But I'm willing to go along for the ride because everything she's said so far has resonated so deeply for me.
From my perspective, this book should be on the reading list of anyone who has lost a lover, spouse, or close loved one.
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