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Interesting Stories About Grief -- But Not Enough Chicken Soup for Me!
on October 26, 2014
This book fell just a bit short of what I have come to expect from Chicken Soup books. Usually reading them feels like a precious balm or holy oil is anointing my head, and the tears just run down my face and sometimes I sob and I just can't believe that a mere book can move me so deeply. So I really felt that a book entitled Grieving and Recovery would result in a huge catharsis for me, that I'd cry endlessly and feel united with the writers and their departed loved ones.
However, most of these stories, in my opinion, were too close to earth and too far from heaven to stir me. Many of the writers are believers and so they do speak of a better place or an afterlife. Some had miracles to report--butterfly sightings, a beautiful heron soaring at the very moment of a friend's passing. But then there were many stories which were more focused on interests the departed had on this earth--a woman who cooked, a man who golfed--and so the stories would center on a recipe box or golf clubs that brought comfort to the bereaved. I'm truly happy that they were able to receive comfort from these simple objects left behind by their loved ones, but story after story was leaving me dry-eyed. They were pleasant stories, but I wanted more chicken soup! It happens that I just finished the Chicken Soup dog stories which were so moving that they blessed me over and over. I was a teary mess by the final page of that book. So maybe the comparison is just too great.
Many of these stories show how the writers achieved some level of peace, but there was nothing special in the story that would help a reader who might be grieving. Other stories do show by example how to achieve peace whether it be by eventually donating the loved one's belongings to needy people, speaking to groups about drunk driving, talking or writing to the loved one as though he/she were still alive, or simply learning to let go and entrust that person to the hands of the Lord.
Perhaps if I read this book before reading so many Chicken Soup books about messages from heaven, miracles, answered prayers, and those amazing dogs, I would have liked it better. Obviously, death isn't always pretty. Many times it's sudden and there is no time for goodbyes or words of endearment. Dying people don't always have meaningful final words. I think some of these writers were showing that the meaning of life and love is sometimes in the simple everyday acts of life. As long as you're not expecting too many heavenly events in this book, I think you'll be happy with it. And you may cry a lot more than I did. I tend to need more of the divine, I guess, in order to feel really uplifted. In fact, I was undecided between three and four stars but decided to go with four because, if nothing else, the stories are well-written and heartfelt.