Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Book Review: Living Without The One You Cannot Live Without

Living Without the One You Cannot Live Without;

Hope and Healing after Loss


This book came across my desk and it was rather timely. We had a death in our family. Also, we just finished NaPoWriMo 2014, and I managed to write a goodly number of poems.

This well-published author chronicled her social and emotional challenges and her journey through grief, mourning and bereavement. As much as they begin with her grief, they do reflect a definitely upward progression from the depths of grief, to her resolve carry on with her life. I found it empowering and encouraging. In addition, her poetry has many lessons for us all.

Lessons to be learned

There are lessons to be learned is visiting Natasha's journey through grief, mourning and bereavement. It is a difficult journey, accepting the loss of a long-time spouse. The first poem in the book tells us where it all begins.

Lost in the Periphery
After my husband died
I was no longer
the center of anyone's life
nor is anyone
Natasha Josefowitz
the center of mine
family and friends
are supportive and comforting
but they are peripheral
as I am peripheral
in their lives
they can continue
without me
as I am supposed
to continue
without him
without the one person
I cannot live without

Lesson One –remember the joy

The first lesson, like the pain and difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth forgotten in the light of the day, is that the grief you feel while a loved one is dying can be forgotten in the joy of days remembered. I thought of this when I read Natasha's poem Romeo and Juliet.

Lesson Two –upward progress

Valley of Grief
Bereavement Groups will help
Many provide Art Therapy groups 
The journey through this valley of grief is well-illustrated, as each day is a little better, despite what Natasha thinks are minor setbacks: two steps forward, one step back. When you meet a friend, they ask how you are doing and you cry, this is how we heal from the process. Taking your grief out, like a cloak of mourning, just a little each day, putting it away for a time, helps you on your journey through to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Lesson Three  –living in solitude vs. loneliness

While Natasha grieves over her lost husband, they were married forever, I realized how different the lives of previous generations. We have community members who have lived 70 years with a spouse, on a family farm.
I've been married twice. I learned to live on my own, and many of our daughters lived on their own before they were married. The grief of being suddenly single may seem unbearable when you have never opened a bottle of wine by yourself, but this is simply a new stage of your life, a part of the journey. I realize that there is comfort on the strength we possess, which we should never forget.

The joy arrives in this book of poetry when you read this poem:
We all experience loss

A Breakthrough
A friend
saw my apartment
and said,
"Your place should be shared
with someone"
and I suddenly realized
that I don't want anyone else here
I am fine living alone
and I suddenly realized
that I am not lonely anymore
I miss him
but I do not need anyone else
to fill the void
I am finally OK Perth's Diners Club
being alone
I am a complete, self-sustaining,
well-grounded person
but not lonely

Lesson Four - writing

Journalling is a very healthy way to deal with your issues and emotions. For those blessed with time and inclination, writing poetry is another outlet. I am part of an on-line community (Canadian Virtual Hospice) which provides eHelp and support to those who are caregivers. Just last post, I suggested to one person that writing on the support pages, documenting your journey, and communicating with us, is good for all.
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@Barrie Summy

Finally –from my own lessons in grief and grieving

  • Do not mourn the day they died, instead, celebrate the day they were born. 
  • You will find solitude, where once was loneliness.
  • To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
  • From looking within with trepidation, you will move to looking out with love and joy.
  • Find support, if you need it, many counselling groups exist.


Olga Hebert said...

Breakthrough says it perfectly for me. It probably helps that I am a person who always valued periods of solitude.

Sarah Laurence said...

So sad but good advice. I like the point about celebrating the birthday.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Jenn, sorry to hear about your loss, but how comforting to pick up this beautiful book. I think it was very courageous of Natasha to open her heart in this way, but that is what poets do.

All my best wishes to your son and his bride-to-be.

Red said...

We have many good exercises that can be done but when it gets down to it's a challenging situation. Everybody is different in how they experience and deal with grief. My Dad never came to terms with the loss of his 11 year old daughter. The men I know who lose spouses go through very different experiences.

William Kendall said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you for pointing this out.

DeniseinVA said...

Jenn, my deepest sympathy for your loss Jen. This is a powerful post. I am going to share it with some friends who have lost their loved ones in recent times.

Barrie said...

I liked how her poems showed her progression through grief. And I really appreciated your explanations. The work you do with the sick and elderly gives you a unique perspective on life. Thank you for reviewing.