Grieving The Loss Of A Loved One, by Kathe Wunnenberg
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.]
As the second book I have read from this author , I was reading this book in the break room and the disconnect between the pretty graphics and the heartrending content of this book was commented on by a coworker, which reminded me of the same phenomenon in her last book as well. I wonder if her and the graphic designer of her books were on the same page, or if the desire to make difficult and uncomfortable material about grieving the death of unborn children or friends and family to illness, all talked about in a great deal of personal detail, including a substitute baby shower for a doomed unborn child, was a conscious one. This book also is one of a small set of devotionals in my collection that were designed as a 52-chapter year-long devotional  that covers only about 200 pages of material, including extensive space for the reader to journal their own experiences in overcoming grief, given that it is assumed that the reading audience will be struggling with the death of a loved one.
The contents of this book are pretty easy to understand, and this book can be read very quickly or very slowly, depending on the mood that the reader is in. It can be read quickly if the reader does not write on the book and is not tripped up by the intensely emotional material book, but if the reader finds the author’s immensely personal discussion personally striking, there will be some time to deal with grief with a tissue and a candle, as the author says at one point. The book’s 52 chapters are divided into twelve parts that deal with different aspects of the grieving process: denying, venting, questioning, bargaining, crying, surrendering, accepting, praising, being, celebrating, relating, and living, which demonstrate that the author is not only interested in discussing the process of grieving and the depression that often follows intense loss, but also how losses are reintegrated into life without minimizing or ignoring them. The result is an immensely thoughtful book that ought to be an encouragement, like a series of brief but loving conversations in book form that encourage the reader to write his (or, more likely, her) own story in the pages as well.
What makes this book work best given its difficult and sometimes uncomfortable subject matter is the fact that it is unmistakably written by someone who knows about grief, and who is willing to open up about her own struggle and how she endured it and came to terms with it. The book even include page references to particularly difficult days for people grieving–I know that while I was in the grips of major depression that certain anniversaries were particularly difficult for me in relating to the death of my father . This book is clearly written by someone who has walked through a great deal of grief and has gained credibility by so doing, and has used that to be gentle and encouraging, but also honest about the depth of her grief and how she acted while in grief. It is a book that gives comfort and acknowledges struggle, without sounding overly bitter or angsty, no mean achievement. In retaining faith as well as remembering one’s questions, this book gives a heartfelt and nuanced approach to grief that ought to be a welcome perspective to its reading audience, full of worthwhile stories from the Bible and from the author’s life and friendships.
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