Book Review: Good Mourning

Good Mourning: Moving Through Everyday Losses With Wisdom From The Other Side, by Theresa Caputo

This book, which I got by picking up a blind bag of five nonfiction books from my local library, offers the reader with an interesting if not necessarily good question. What worth is the advice of a medium and her eponymous spirit guide referred to throughout this book as Spirit? The answer is not very much. The author certainly thinks that she is providing insight, or at least conveying insight from spiritual sources, but the advice that is provided is not particularly worthwhile. But it is not worthwhile in ways that are particularly notable, in that the advice given is precisely what one would expect from the New Age advice of the contemporary world. This book shows no commitment to relationships when they no longer feel good–the author talks about her own divorce and her advice to others, and it is equally clear that she has no fondness for biblical standards of morality and ethics, pushing instead for the law of attraction. This is a problem, but it is the sort of problem that is relatively easy to understand, even when one does not approve of it. The author provides advice for itching ears that want to be validated instead of rebuked.

This book is a mercifully short one at a bit more than 200 pages, all of which show the author dwelling on various losses that her target audience of New Age affluent Karens might have to deal with. The introduction of the book discusses the everyday losses that people suffer. After that the author deals with losses being losses (1), and the loss of friends (2), spouses to separation and divorce (3), losing faith (4), losing control (5), and losing health (6) and independence (7). The author dwells on the reading losing safety and familiarity (8), losing one’s home (9), one’s job (10), one’s financial stability (11), one’s hopes and dreams (12), one’s youth (13), and the full nest that comes from having one’s children at home (14). And that is not all, as the author then dwells on losing one’s routine after retirement (15), losing an argument (16), losing trust (17), losing a special object, like some supposedly magic crystal or family heirloom (18), losing a body part (19), losing one’s identity (20), losing one’s will to endure (21), and losing confidence over past choices (22), after which there are acknowledgements. Perhaps all is not well in paradise.

One of the more notable aspects of this book is the way that contemporary culture focuses on mourning loss and dwelling on losses instead of showing gratitude for what one has. And it is obvious that this book is aimed at people who live good lives, more or less. The author is not talking about the mourning of people whose life is a joyless grind and who are dealing with serious issues in life. Rather, the sort of mourning that the author has others deal with is the sort of affluenza that one expects from people with basically privileged backgrounds and generally prosperous lives who nonetheless enjoy the feeling of mourning and sharing in the misery that is our contemporary society’s dominant leitmotif. This is not healthy. And encouraging and enabling people’s bad tendencies when it comes to such matters is surely not healthy either. This book could have helped people to mourn better by stripping away the illusions that keep contemporary people from coming to terms with their blessings and their lack of appreciation to God for what they have been given. It would take a truly bold author to take such an approach, though.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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