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Feeling Left Behind: Permission to Grieve

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The grief that accompanies the loss of a loved one is crippling. In Feeling Left Behind, author Kim Murdock relates and empathizes with that pain because she's been there. She knows what it feels like to be woefully blindsided by music or at the grocery store, to reconsider the future alone, and to connect with a person who is no longer alive. You will relate to her chapters as she describes:

The crushing desire to freeze time and isolate yourself The unstable phase of "firsts"― first holidays, birthdays, anniversaries The anger and sadness at seeing other couples The loss of self, empathy, security, and tolerance The heartbreaking sadness of getting rid of their belongings And so much more This is not a step-by-step guide on how to grieve. Kim outlines every detail of her experience as well as the experiences of her widow/widower friends to show you that you are not alone. You are normal. And you deserve as much time as possible to figure out how to survive in your own way.

312 pages, Paperback

Published August 1, 2019

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Kim Murdock

1 book6 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
November 22, 2019
Murdock's book isn't about resilience, but an unapologetic, uncensored exploration of the dark corners of grief. Society encourages a speedy return to cheery business as usual, seeing prolonged suffering as abnormal. Murdock's book gives permission to seek out your own truths as bereavement causes a new dimension of reality. Instead of becoming a shallow period of misery, Murdock's lingering sorrow expresses her painful realization of being left behind by a person she loved to her core and who could never be replaced. While the Kubler-Ross model pertains to people facing death, Murdock's book fills in the blanks for the person adjusting to their loss. Describing many possible aspects of grief, Murdock doesn't prescribe a norm or give advice as self-help books might do. Instead is a heartfelt sharing, capturing that while continuing in the same world, it's perfectly acceptable to never be at all the same after a profound loss.  
1 review
April 28, 2020
Humans are meant to be in pairs. We are hard-wired to find the one long-term relationship that will sustain us, two people sailing from shore to shore, helping each other navigate the mostly calm but sometimes choppy waters. Some folks never meet that person; others are blessed.

If you’re married or in a committed relationship, the chances are good that you have contemplated the possibility—probability—that one of you will outlive the other. If you’re a woman, the odds are in your favor statistically. But is it a good thing to have more years than your spouse? Or is it yet another way that Nature has disadvantaged the female of the species? Put another way, is it better to live a long life, perhaps in loneliness, or to die first and be free of the future you might have faced, whether joyful or painful? A philosophical question to be sure, but realistically, a person in a marriage or committed relationship will either die before their partner or will survive them. The only question that matters is this: If I’m the survivor, how will I get through it?

Kim Murdock, the author of Feeling Left Behind: Permission to Grieve, faced that question at 42, when her husband Reg died of a rare and aggressive type of thyroid cancer. In the three years from diagnosis to the end, there were elevated hopes that the cancer had left and devastating letdowns when the outcome was inevitable. Surgery, chemo, and radiation would buy Reg time, as the disease metastacized from one organ to another, but in the end, after having endured a slew of operations and procedures, he was bested by cancer at 48, an age when most men are at their peak. He and Murdock should have been looking forward to decades of togetherness; it just didn’t work out that way.

Reg’s death, of course, gobsmacked Murdock. For months after she lost him, Murdock would break down and sob, often at awkward and irrational times. Seemingly innocent comments or mundane events would set her off: a Christmas carol intended to bring warmth and togetherness only heightened her feeling of isolation. “[Hearing] ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas,’” she writes, “was especially tortuous, because he’ll never be home again.”

Feeling Left Behind is certainly not the first self-help book written to comfort survivors, but Murdock’s offering, part memoir, is unquestionably one of the most personal of the genre. She says she wrote it because all the other books on the subject focus on how to get over a spouse’s death “rather than acknowledging how brutally painful it is.” She doesn’t sidestep her own grief—she exposes it right to the core, at first when her sorrow seems unbearable and later when the pain is manageable, though unrelenting.

The book’s subtitle—Permission to Grieve—is itself a form of comfort, especially when well meaning friends say “it’s time to move on.” Not long after Reg died, Murdock’s doctor told her that she should stop wearing her wedding ring because she is now available.

Misery loves company, often tossed off as a flip observation, is meant to lighten a tense situation, but there is some truth in it. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that our own truth is universal; all we need do is connect with kindred souls and help each other grieve.

For those grieving, being with family, friends, and acquaintances can be supportive, as long as they know when to tread lightly. That said, being on the same journey as someone who has been there can be more comforting than expressions of love and kindness from those who mean well but who haven’t lost “my husband and best friend,” as Murdock puts it. Those connected by grief are often the only ones who we can relate to, because they get it. Sometimes a book by someone who has been there is what we need to get navigate the seemingly insurmountable. In the end, we all need permission to grieve.
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24 reviews
July 9, 2022
This was a much needed book to read after losing my husband 2 1/2 years ago. It was written by someone that has actually lost her husband, and talks about her experiences as well as other widows & widowers that are friends of hers. It helped me realize that the many different experiences and emotions that I've gone through have been, and continue to be very normal. No one can rush you through the pain of grief. Everyone goes through it in their own way and at their own speed.

My niece recently lost her husband at a young age, and I plan to give it to her in due time, when I think she's ready. I highly recommend it to others that have lost a spouse because no one can truly relate unless they have experienced it first hand.
May 24, 2020
We've all experiences unexpected moments of intense grieving, when the most insignificant action, sight, or scent brings back a memory, even a physical sensation we shared with a loved one. This can happen at any time or place. It makes us realize the full-depth of our treasured relationship as we pause to give-in to our grief.
Kim Murdock captures this experience in her book, Feeling left Behind: Permission to Grieve when she describes the intense feeling of grief she experiences when catching sight of a young cyclist who was in the process of clicking his cleats into the pedals of his bike. This random, but familiar sight, captured moments of everyday life she shared with her husband and she let herself grieve, once again.
This book is the special gift I will give to those close to me who have lost that special person.
Author 13 books2 followers
April 20, 2020
A must-read for all who have ever lost someone close to them and that's pretty much everyone. Murdock's moving though gut-wrenching account of the couple's battle with cancer leading to her husband's death, to wishing time would freeze when they were together is familiar to everyone. The year he died, she was crippled with grief and resented the Christmas cards with photos of happy couples on them. What sets Feeling Left Behind apart is Murdock's determination to reach other widows/widowers and give them permission to grieve, too. Not just to hold their hand and ask if they're feeling sad, but grieve with them. Feeling Left Behind is truly worth the tears.
June 8, 2020
It was raw, full of emotion and very personal. The author tells it like it is, death sucks. The author spoke from her broken heart and was daring to express her authentic feelings which perhaps others would be afraid to admit to. For all those who have experienced a profound loss, I am truly sorry. As the author has expressed throughout her book, know that you are not alone and allow yourself the permission to grieve.
Profile Image for Julie R.
60 reviews6 followers
October 10, 2022
This isn't the type of book that I can say that I enjoyed. It was a book that was very helpful. Most people are familiar with the stages of grief, but this talks about the things that people go through after the loss of a spouse. So much of it rang true to me since my husband passed away 2 and a half years ago. Feeling like they'll walk in the door any minute. Crying in the middle of the grocery store because you automatically grabbed one of their favorite things Other people try to tell you how you should move on, cheer up, get rid of things that you aren't ready to part with. She pretty much talked about things that I already knew were true for me and sounds like they're true for most people who have lost a spouse.
September 2, 2020
This book should be on every grief counselor’s recommended reading list. It captures the many emotions that widowed people feel, and you can tell the author has not only felt those emotions herself but also has compassion for others now facing loss and dealing with those emotions. Bravo to the author for bearing her soul and pain in this book to help other grieving people.
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62 reviews1 follower
August 24, 2022
At such a hard time in my life, it was peaceful to sit and read. I thought I wouldnt be able to read, to see through my tears but I think its the slowest book Iv read, and it must have helped because Im here...a year on...I still hurt but Im here.
1 review
February 10, 2020
Well written book. Covers the many situations that are encountered after losing a loved one. Lets a person know that they are not alone in their suffering and pain of loss.

4 reviews
November 13, 2020
Excellent resource.

Very helpful. It was as if Kim was right with me as I am going through this unbearable reality of losing the love of my life, my reason for living.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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