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Comfort: A Journey Through Grief

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,689 ratings  ·  252 reviews
“Rarely do memoirs of grief combine anguish, love, and fury with such elegance.” —Entertainment Weekly

In 2002, Ann Hood's five-year-old daughter Grace died suddenly from a virulent form of strep throat. Stunned and devastated, the family searched for comfort in a time when none seemed possible. Hood - an accomplished novelist - was unable to read or write. She could only r
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 4th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published May 12th 2008)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  1,689 ratings  ·  252 reviews

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Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Shortly after my son was killed, I read Joan Didion's " A Year of Magical Thinking". It was amazing in its description of loss that cannot be shared. However, I must say that Ann Hood has expressed the loss of a child better than anyone I have ever had the discussion with about the personal, singular, life altering experience. I have always said that I only know two women who can understand. Both have lost a child. I also knew two women when I was very young, and it was not until I lost my son t ...more
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I believe she would want me to miss her with every cell in my body. And that is how much I ache for her. My arms hurt from not holding her on my lap. My nose aches from not smelling her little-girl sweat and powder and lavender-lotion smell. My eyes sting from not seeing her twirl in ballet class. My ears strain every morning for her calling "Mama!" when she wakes up. My lips reach for her sticky kisses. At night I search for her."

"Or perhaps that is love: a leap of faith, a belief in the impos
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: september-2016
I hadn’t heard a lot about Comfort: A Journey Through Grief before I decided to buy it; I did so because as far as retrospective illness narratives go, it was unlike anything I’d read before. I have come across and loved a couple of accounts of women who sadly miscarry, and those who have lost adults (husbands or sisters, for instance) to terrible diseases, but I haven’t read anything about the loss of a child. In Comfort, Hood writes about the death and its aftermath of her five-year-old daught ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
A beautifully bittersweet little memoir about the death of Hood’s five-year-old daughter, Grace, from a mutant strep throat infection that attacked all her organs and left her dead in two days. Because it was written as a series of essays that appeared in other publications and anthologies, Hood keeps looping back to the two days Grace spent in the hospital, rehashing the surprise, the terror, and the tragedy. Hood couldn’t write for a full year after Grace’s death. The first piece she wrote, fo ...more
Michelle Cristiani
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
In Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, there's a chapter on finding gratitude through remembering the fragility of life. To do this, Rubin reads a series of memoirs on loss. When I started reading Comfort, I asked myself again and again why someone would choose to read such a sad, sad book about the sudden loss of Ann Hood's 5-year old daughter. To feel relieved it didn't happen to them? To appreciate the small moments with their own daughters? My reasons were like Gretchen Rubin's - to reme ...more
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This will not be a five star for everyone. In fact, I'm not sure what anyone who has not lost a child would get out of it. I'm not even sure what you get out of it if you have lost a child. But for me, the utter dislocation and randomness of grief in its intensity (or not) and its literal insanity (or not), this description of the chaos of the mind rings true.

But. Not for everyone.
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-bio
Heartbreaking. Not to be read before bed. Not only did I lie awake thinking of all I could lose in my life, but I dreamed of loss as well.
Apr 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grief
This is the story of a mother whose 5yr old daughter dies suddenly from a rare strep infection. The book was published 6 years after her daughter's death. I picked it up at the library because the book jacket mentioned knitting as part of a journey through grief, and I have found my own solace in crocheting. The book is somewhat disjointed, jumping back & forth in time. I had no idea that author had a step-daughter until chapter 9 (of 10). Mother's Days and birthdays and anniversary's of the chi ...more
Christine Eberle
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Christine by: Lynn Rosen
Shelves: grief-and-grace
The prologue alone would be worth the price of this brief but riveting memoir of the four years following the death of Ann Hood's daughter. Later in the book we learn that she wrote the prologue in one fell swoop, one outburst of rage and torment at the ridiculous things people said to her when they were trying--and failing--to be helpful. It should be required reading for anyone who dares to "comfort" or otherwise advise the grieving.

The rest of the book is organized thematically, so subsequent
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had many books about death and dying recommended to me after Ben, but this was the only one that really "got it", in my opinion. Probably because she also lost a child. I actually had a very hard time reading this, and found myself only reading a page or so at a time. I enjoyed it immensely, though, and plan to buy a copy to reread from time to time.
Steven Belanger
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When a 5-year old child dies...Well, I can't really even finish the sentence, much less write a book about it. Such loss is inexplicable. It is impossible to imagine, even by a person like Hood who makes her living from her literary imagination. The talent to do so must be immense.

You have to do honor to yourself, your own emotions, the child, to the death, to the reality of how it happened. The details. The exact details. Details so exact you have to live your own worst nightmare over and over
Kim Brown
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Comfort: A Journey Through Grief was more difficult to read then any other grief book I have read since my son died. Ann Hood’s memories felt familiar. She wrote: “This was the unthinkable, thing every parent fears. And it had come to our house and taken Gracie. When I looked out the window, I wanted her to still be there, making bouquets of chive from the garden laced with purple myrtle. Or when I walked in the kitchen, I expected to find her there, standing on her small wooden chair, plucking ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who has read Ann Hood's works knows she's excellent at her trade.
COMFORT is not her usual offering, but it's a must read, especially for anyone who has lost a child.
Grief following the death of a child is said to be the ultimate grief and Hood testifies to that in this precious book.
In 2002, her five-year-old daughter contracted a virulent strain of strep and within 48 hours, little Grace died. For a long time Hood couldn't write and understandably so.
At someone's suggestion she started k
Leah A.
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Although I have never lost a child, I read Hood's memoir with such a visceral reaction: my body tensed, I cried, I yelled aloud, I wrote multiple curse words on multiple pages. . . in short, Hood's writing touched me profoundly. Having just finished Robin Romm's The Mother Garden and Meghan O'Rourke's The Long Goodbye a week earlier, I rated them on Goodreads and looked to the right: there was Comfort: A Journey Through Grief. I had previously read at least two of the chapters when they had appe ...more
Jun 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How can one recommend a book that is so sad? Many people would shy away from reading a book about the death of a child. But by not reading Hood's journey through grief, one would miss so much.

Hood's journey, like that of every parent who has lost a child, will never end. It will just get less raw, although at times it will still overwhelm. I do not think I have ever read anything more heartfelt, more eloquent, more full of what a parent goes through when the worst has happened.

Hood's voice is
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
This is a beautiful yet very sad memoir about the sudden death of Ann’s five-year-old daughter, Grace, from an aggressive form of strep throat. Told with integrity and honesty, Ann reveals just how tough it was and still is for her, four years later, to cope with her great loss.

Grace was a beautiful, precocious little girl who was in kindergarten and learning, of all things, to speak Chinese!! Her older brother, Sam, just adored her and the two of them got along like two peas in a pod.

Ann and he
Liz Gray
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book SO much. It's short--more like a long essay--but it packs a powerful punch. Hood writes about her grief following the unexpected death of her daughter at age five. Hood writes sparingly and beautifully not only about the irrational nature of grief, but also about the ways in which she and her family cope with their sorrow. My favorite passage is near the end of the book, when Hood is remembering driving her daughter home from kindergarten: "I realize that this is how mothers see ...more
Jane B.
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read this book because a friend said Hood writes about knitting to alleviate grief, a special interest of mine. At first I was a bit disappointed because that topic was only mentioned in passing. As I got deeper into this brief book (short enough to read in a four hour plane ride), I came to appreciate the honest sharing of a mother's pain in losing a young child. Beautifully written, heartbreaking, and gave me some insight into the grief of my friends who have lost childr ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have read most of Ann Hood's books and knew that her young daughter had suddenly died, so I wanted to read this memoir, although I expected it to be painful. It definitely was painful, in its poignancy, simplicity, and honesty, but it helped me to understand her better as a writer and as a person. It also helped as I still grapple with the sudden death of my daughter in law's brother, who was a student of mine and whom I saw the day before he died of an overdose, at 37.

The hard part of death t
Mrs. Danvers
A small gem of a book. I very much appreciate her honesty about her pain and how nothing helps, even time, although time did, in its way, help.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What I will remember most in this beautifully written book are the author's descriptions of her delighted mothering moments. She celebrates her children and her moments with them even as she writes a clear-eyed description of loss and grief.
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
I didn't feel this book was a real "comfort" for grief, until I realized that it was comforting to the 'author' not necessarily those reading it. She worked her way through her grief by writing her thoughts, some of which were really good, but most were thoughts and memories of her daughter.

Favorite quotes:

"Grief is not linear. People kept telling me that once this happened or that passed, everything would be better. Some people gave me one year to grieve. They saw grief as a straight line, with
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was heartwrenching and difficult to read, but a very real and raw plunge into the world of unexpected grief and tragedy. The writing style was very relatable and vivid. Definitely recommend for anyone, but especially folks who have experienced grief and will find companionship in Hood's experience and emotions.

A couple of favorite lines:

"Time passes and I am still not through it. You go on with it lodged in you. Sometimes I feel like I have swallowed a pile of stones. Grief makes me h
Iowa Girl
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: memoir readers; those grieving for the loss of a child
Shelves: memoirs-general
I just finished. This was the second time I had picked up the book to read and this time, I read until the book was finished. Reading Ann Hood is like hearing her speak into your ear. A gentle but strong voice that is comforting but a little scary, too, because it is such a powerfully quiet voice. I attended a book group at an independent bookshop that sponsored Ann's visit to promote "The Knitting Circle." Ann Hood in person is marvelous, meetable, totally human and very smart. I guess the chap ...more
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I agree with Jacquelyn Mitchard's review stating that this book is "unprecedented" and "unsurpassed even by Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking." Ann Hood is so genuine - her writing is, at time raw and difficult to read, but so very real. Too often we say platitudes and strive to comfort others when really all we're doing is protecting ourself. Hood describes her very real experience - one that feels very illogical - in a non-linear manner that nonetheless makes perfect sense because it ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2008
In a way I hated and loved this book. I hated it because I really didn't like the author. I had an easier time sympathizing with her in the beginning when it was just a mother losing a daughter and what a terrible and tradgic loss it was... however as the book progressed and she talked more about herself and her family I got pretty agitated.

I loved that it was something I could talk to Heather about. I didn't realize how strongly I felt about adoption until I had a discussion with her. Adoption
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The grief of losing a child is the most unbearable grief in the world yet it happens to so many - some of them my friends. This memoir of the author Ann Hood's journey to that unspeakable place after the sudden death of her five year old daughter is wrenching, lyrical, agonizing and so utterly real in its lack of any answers or even hope that it ever goes away. She says that she lives in two worlds: one that she functions in, laughs in, loves her other children, her husband and job but at any mo ...more
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-stories
I have been reading Ann Hood lately. Many of her books have a theme of grief. This book explains why. Ann Hood's five year old daughter died of a horrible form of strep that took this healthy, darling Grace to death within 36 hours. Unbelievable but true. Every parent's nightmare. Ann Hood told this story very bravely in a free streaming way. It was a difficult book to read although I couldn't put it down.
I thank Ann Hood for sharing her story.
I fell in love with Grace. She was a charming, sma
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a poignant memoir. Several times I felt the tears start, and I am not an emotional reader whatsoever. I'm not a Mom, and I don't even have a natural affinity for children. Why does this matter? Of course it doesn't, except that Hood's narrative is so moving, in under two hundred pages even I became attached to Grace and felt her loss. Hood articulates both her vast love and profound pain so very clearly without ever becoming maudlin or bogging down in the gut-wrenching details--no small fea ...more
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Ann Hood is the editor of Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting and the bestselling author of The Book That Matters Most, The Knitting Circle, The Red Thread, Comfort, and An Italian Wife, among other works. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, a Best American Food Writing Award, a Best American Travel Writing Award, and the Paul Bowles Prize for Shor ...more

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
30 likes · 11 comments
“Grief is not linear. People kept telling me that once this happened or that passed, everything would be better. Some people gave me one year to grieve. They saw grief as a straight line, with a beginning, middle, and end. But it is not linear. It is disjointed. One day you are acting almost like a normal person. You maybe even manage to take a shower. Your clothes match. You think the autumn leaves look pretty, or enjoy the sound of snow crunching under your feet. Then a song, a glimpse of something, or maybe even nothing sends you back into the hole of grief. It is not one step forward, two steps back. It is a jumble. It is hours that are all right, and weeks that aren't. Or it is good days and bad days. Or it is the weight of sadness making you look different to others and nothing helps.” 56 likes
“Even now, there are still days so beautiful, I almost believe in God.” 41 likes
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