A Grief Observed saved me from the support group epidemic.
In 1994, support groups were all the rage. There support groups for addicts, which do great...moreA Grief Observed saved me from the support group epidemic.
In 1994, support groups were all the rage. There support groups for addicts, which do great things. But the concept had grown beyond reason to include support groups for people afraid of socks, who think Superman lives in the apartment upstairs, and for anyone allergic to the color blue.
My daughter died days before Christmas 1994, just weeks after I got out of the active duty Navy to spend more time as a father and less as a submarine sailor.
Everyone told me I must -- MUST -- join a support group for former submarines who've lost a child to diabetes. They told me that spending an hour saying the Rosary and praying in church was unhealthy, that I needed to spend two hours a week with a dozen people who've been grieving for a decade or more.
I secretly tried a support group one night. I refused to let one unspeakably painful tragedy destroy my life. I refused to be drawn into the perpetual self-pity the support group engendered. I refused to let my daughter's death win.
The next day, I found A Grief Observed at Catholic Supply in South St. Louis. I read it that day.
I cried so hard, sobbing so violently, that once I thought my heart would stop.
Did the book "cure" me? Hell no. But it prepared me. It spoke to me, as much as I hate that phrase.
Clive Staples Lewis was every bit as contemptuous for Western Civilization's death rituals as I was. He mocked those who say, "Oh, look how wonderful she looks," as they peer at the decaying corpse in the casket. He pitied the sad sots who went to "visit my Emily" in the cemetery every Sunday. "She's not there!" he shouted in his mind.
Everyone, I suspect, who's lost a child or a spouse feels these feelings. But the support group mentality prohibits them. At least, the support group I visited. This book is for those who want to, eventually, get on with their lives. It's the only thing that worked for me.
A final note, I think this book is best for those who are ACTIVELY GRIEVING. Buy it in paper, not the ebook. Put it on your shelf, but DON'T READ IT until the pain and horror and agony of the loss drives you toward a support group.
Then read it, and the cleansing will begin. (less)