I was honoured to discover that acclaimed author, public speaker, and spiritual commentator Dr Stephanie Dowrick referred to my memoir, The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement, in her most recent column for The Good Weekend, the magazine supplement to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers in Australia. I met Stephanie for the first time in May at the 2010 Sydney Writers’ Festival, where we participated in the same panel.
Her column, “Grief and Consolation,” explores the “complex and sometimes wildly varying emotions that we lump together and call grief.” I appreciated Stephanie’s thoughts on the physicality of grieving, the way that your body can ache and hurt and feel numb powerfully in response to your emotions, which are extremely intense in the days, months, and – I can attest to this – years following the death of someone you love.
She reminds those wondering how to deal with someone who is grieving that
It is … realistic to assume that the loss of a loved one is always hard, and that the grieving we do will be intense and somewhat unpredictable, most of all in the early months or even years. … At any stage, there is no ‘right’ way to grieve, nor any one right way to console.
For months after my husband died, I couldn’t concentrate enough to read the side of a cereal packet, so I am always deeply moved when I hear from a grieving reader who has just finished my book. Not every reader who writes to me is grieving, I’m pleased to say, but the book seems to resonate out from my very personal experience in a way that connects with total strangers. That to me is the miracle of writing.
Stephanie Dowrick has a new book, Seeking the Sacred. I look forward to reading it.