After my beloved dog, River, passed away in October, I began to look for help with this grief in the pages of books. For months all I was able to do was add book titles to my “to read” list, but eventually I was able to open one. Just one. And while this book was short, it took me nearly a month to read it. This may be obvious, but just be prepared to cry while reading this book even when something does not consciously strike you that hard, another chord within you may be struck below the surface. So I had to plan and prepare whenever I opened this book.
It is a brand new book published on January 2nd 2022 and mine was the first review posted on GoodReads. I will share my thoughts originally posted there on GoodReads and expand my thoughts here on my blog.
The following was first published to goodreads.com on February 6th 2022 -
“A short book with short chapters and chapter summaries aimed at making this tough stuff more digestible.
If you're looking for something helpful, a guide, then this could be it. If you're looking for a dense tome, then this is not that.
I read this to help me after the loss of my dog. This book does not mention animal family members, but it does say "loved one," and he was, and still is, very much loved.”
I appreciated the way the book was organized and how short the sections were for ease of reading. Like I mentioned earlier, it took planning and preparation to sit and read this book, so taking it in bite-sized pieces already portioned out worked well for me. That being said, it could have been longer and dug a little deeper and given more examples. For instance, there was a story from a woman the author knew who shared her life story of abuse and struggle and triumph over tragedy all because of her change in perspective and choice to live with love and without attachment.
Sounds so nice, right? But also, what in the world does that mean?
The life story is concise, understandably, because this was told to the author over coffee, but still I thought some elaboration or explanation was due for the reader. Most of us do not know how to love without attachment, in fact, even those of us who self-identify as spiritual do not know how to practically do this even as it is touted as a goal of enlightenment. So why then did the author not further explain this or share how she is now practicing this in her own life? The audience surely would have found that helpful.
I can be critical and appreciative of books and I would certainly like to express that here. This book by Sheila West did help me during a very difficult time after losing my beloved River. Even though the language for this entire book was specifically speaking to losing a beloved human, it also states “or loved one” in the title which I took to include family members who are animals, as my River was absolutely a dear loved one. Still, it would be have been really appreciated to have the author specifically include and speak to the grief around the loss of a pet or beloved animal friend.
The Kindle e-reader has a feature in connection with GoodReads where it keeps track of what you have highlighted during reading. This feature can be made public or private. I prefer to manually input my progress with GoodReads rather than make it all automatically public. Still, I would like to share some excerpts here with you.
“Grief is not a single emotion; it is a state that we go through which involves a wide range of emotions that must be felt at the deepest level possible. Over time, sadness can transform into gratitude and joy.” - I took this as confirmation of my intuition that this is a multi-faceted, non-lineal process with its own timeline, and not something we can really force.
“Your loved one was a medium for bringing out what was already present in you.”
“They may serve as catalysts for bringing that love to the surface, but the love is still within you - it hasn’t gone anywhere, and it is never going to go anywhere.” - I particularly loved these quotes because my loving connection with River was (still is) the deepest and most constant love I have ever felt on this earth and it helps to foster hope reading that this did not simply arrive randomly or just through River. It came from me and and River. We reflected it back to each other and it grew and grew more than perhaps he ever expected to feel and definitely more than what I ever expected to feel.
“Guilt is often a close companion to bargaining.” - Yes.This still comes up regularly for me, even four months since his passing
“Part of their soul has merged with you forever.” - Undeniably true.
More about this book and my initial review can be found here on GoodReads