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Friday, August 24, 2012

Aftermath, Book Review

693432: Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief
By Margaret McSweeney

I must admit, Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief, by Margaret McSweeny, hasn’t been an easy book for me to read and review. Through the pages, I spent countless hours weeping and desperately needing to put the book down to collect myself.

With the recent grief of my own mother, McSweeny recounts the bittersweet memories of grieving her own parent’s death, and brought forth some evidence that I had been ignoring the reality that what I’ve been feeling these past few months has been grief.

While many people know there are several “stages” of grief, the misconception is that the grieving person must follow them in order and then grief is complete. McSweeny gives us valid permission to experience those stages in random order and sometimes all at once for no reason at all.

“A stage implies a beginning and an end, but emotions can be circular.” (pg. 17)

As my mother suffered over three years with recurring breast cancer, we knew the inevitable outcome would be death. Although some of us may have the luxury of knowing the when and how of our loved one’s impending death, we may believe we have their death already under control and will be prepared for that day and time.

“Although her death was expected, the aftermath was unexpected. My emotional rollercoaster ranged from separation anxiety to guilt, anger, sorrow and at last acceptance.” (pg. 15)

Throughout the book, Margaret shares some intimate letters and poems written by her mother, Carolyn Rhea, during the grieving of her husband and sister. These emotional disclosures reveal the spiritual obstacles we encounter during grief, and the permission to take it straight to the throne of God.

“Honest praying that expresses to God hostility toward Him or others, often gives opportunity for God to bring healing and recovery from grief.” (pg. 60)

The format of the book was concise and offered Comfort and Counsel. Comfort consists of various scriptures, and Counsel provides ways to deal with grief, or provide comfort to someone experiencing grief. At the end of each chapter, McSweeny offers a space to communicate your own grief through a series of interactive questions and the beginning of a letter to God, “What else do I need to say to God? Dear God…”

As some of my faithful readers may already know, as I mentioned this in a previous blog, this book helped me realize that the strange emotional rollercoaster I’m on is simply grief—as if grief is simple at all. But I was feeling so overwhelmed by so much, and feeling like I just didn’t care about much of anything anymore. McSweeny writes:

“The first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we’ll go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day.” (pg. 42)

Those words brought such relief and comfort to my world, where I felt those very emotions and thought I had just become an awful person. I was truly fearful at the thought of this drastic change in my attitude and behaviors. But those words helped me see that it wasn’t “me,” but rather my grief.

If you have recently encountered a death in your family and you’re experiencing these same odd and unusual feelings, I highly recommend reading, Aftermath. It will outline the rational and irrational behaviors you may be going through, and provide insight and comfort into those very feelings and actions.

I would also recommend this book to anyone who has a friend or loved one who is going through the grieving process. One thing I have discovered through my own grief is that people tend to steer clear of those who are grieving. McSweeny offers loving and thoughtful advice for those who just don’t know what to say or do in times of death.

I never realized just how much I depended on my mother as my friend in life. As someone who has only my husband to help and console me, there are moments I feel utterly alone and lost without her. When my husband recently lost his job, I immediately felt a huge hole in my life not just because of his job, but because it was usually in those times of emotional need that I would run to her and be comforted by her strength…and now that strength is gone. And I am forever without my friend in life because there is no one to be found around me anymore.

I received this book for free from the Litfuse Publicity Group book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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