Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Thank You, A Blog Link, and A Review

A Thank You from Keicha:



It seems so strange to feel such love and support from people I've never met. Thanks to each of you for all of your very kind and encouraging words. I don't feel strong, or brave, mostly what I feel is that I just want my sister back. I know that will never happen, so the next best thing I can do is hopefully prevent someone from ever having to go through such a horrific loss.

Thank you again for your constant support and feedback. It really does help.

A Blog Link:

I am attaching a link to my daughter's blog.  When Keicha was a child, whenever she would misbehave, which was quite rare, her punishment was that she had to put down her book and go outside and play.  Books have always been her passion.  

Having read prolifically since her earliest days, it is no wonder that she is such a wonderful writer.  I am quite proud of her ability to express herself so well with her writing.  I am sorry that she must write about the hard topics of grief and loss, but I am grateful she can use her gift of writing to examine these topics.  I know that her heart hopes that her writing helps others just as she has benefited from the writings of others.

The link to her blog is below:

A Review:

I hope to create a new topic for my blog which features books I have read about loss, grief, and the difficult subject of suicide.  Reading and writing have been an important part of my journey through grief.  Perhaps, the books I have read will also benefit others.

Blue NightsBlue Nights by Joan Didion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is difficult to write a review about this book because I can't be objective.  I can't be objective because as I read this book, I felt as if I were reading my own thoughts, questions, sorrows, regret, memories, and psychological battles.  I lost my daughter a year and a half ago.  That is why I felt as if I were reading my own story.

I wanted Joan Didion to tie up the loose ends of grief for me.  I wanted her to give my some answers on how she coped with her loss.  I wanted to know that she was doing just fine.  I knew I wouldn't find these answers, but in my own denial about my own daughter's death, I hoped that just possibly she had been able to accomplish something I could not.

Joan forced me to confront some memories of Julie that I had buried in a place in my mind I could not visit.  While I did not want to lose what little I had left of my daughter, the memories of her alive and well, I wished not to really see her either.  Seeing her made her loss more unbearable.

I wept so many times in this book.  I wept for Joan, for Quintana, for Julie, for me.  I wept because so many memories were very much alive.  I saw them as if I were first seeing the smile that swept across my daughter's face the first time I held her after her birth.  I vividly remembered how her eyes locked in on mine and she held my gaze when she was just hours old.  I visited those memories, and my heart broke all over again.  I went over the details of the memory in my mind.  I saw her hair, smelled it, held it in my hands, but only in my memory.  I allowed myself to do this as I read this book.

I read some of this book while sitting in a cold doctor's office, just as Joan Didion described.  I had to close the book and put it away because I started weeping nearly uncontrollably.  I have been in that same place as she was in.  In fact, I was in that place.  I have experienced the psychological and physical toll that such a death takes on the mother who survives.

Joan Didion does not resolve anything in this book.  There is no resolution.  How can there be when a mother loses a child?


View all my reviews

28 comments:

Jean said...

I feel powerless to say anything that could possibly be comforting, because I've never experienced the depth of your loss and your grief.

Did you, by any chance, see Anderson Cooper's recent show on death by suicide? His own brother died by suicide several years ago, so Anderson and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, shared the long, uphill struggle they've faced since losing Carter. I'm sure you would find that particular show affirming and encouraging.

Grandmother said...

I read her book about the loss of her husband: "The Year of magical Thinking". I will read this too, fore warned of the content, because she's a remarkable writer. It sounds like you have a firm support system for yourself and that you keep present to your feelings. It's really all you can demand of yourself. Good for you for doing it. I admire you and wish you peace.

Barb said...

I have Blue Nights on my Kindle but haven't started it yet. Since I was a little girl, I've used books as a kind of therapy - the good ones help you release emotions and find some answers, even if no concrete problems are solved. Keicha does you proud, Sally.

Teacher's Pet said...

I am going to read Blue Nights. Thank you for the recommendation.
I read your daughter's blog...and smiled....loving the strong bond between cousins. Such a strong love.
I hug you from here....knowing that there could never ever be a resolution, Sally. The mother's heart in me weeps.....
Love,
Jackie

Thisisme. said...

It was so kind of Keicha to write that little note of thanks. I have just popped over to her blog, and you are right, her writing is quite beautiful, and no wonder you are so proud of her! You are right, there is no resolution for losing a daughter.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Oh, Sally. What is there to say when nothing can be said or done to stop the pain or shorten the process of a grief that is, indeed, lifelong. I thought of you when I bought this book the other day and, as I read through it, my thoughts and prayers will stay with you and with Keicha.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I'm struck by your observation that Joan Didion doesn't resolve anything in this book. We crave resolution for our grief and our losses, but we are left with more questions than answers. You and Keicha have taught me that this is especially true when a loved one dies by suicide. I hope you are eventually able to find some peace and comfort.

DJan said...

I haven't read this book, but I've read a lot of her other ones, including The Year of Magical Thinking. You make a strong case for reading this book. Anything that can break through my hard shell is well worth reading.

Kay said...

I'm so glad the book was a comfort for you. It always helps to know that someone else truly knows how you feel. Keicha is definitely a gifted writer. How wonderful that you're both able to help others work through their grief.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Your daughter is gifted like her mother... I think that you listing books and articles about grief is a great idea. So many people experience grief--and don't have places to go for help... You can be a huge help.
Hugs
Betsy

John Paul McKinney said...

Sally, Thanks for the recommendation. I'll be passing it along to Kathy. All the best to you and Keicha. We'll be thinking of you on the 19th.

Linda Myers said...

I haven't lost a child so I can't say I understand. But I'm with you.

Rita said...

Both you and your daughter are gifted writers. I admire both of you your ability to open your hearts to us. I have not experienced what you have, but I was almost the cause of such pain in my youth.

I have always believed it is a privilege to read when an author opens their heart and soul to let you into such a personal space. It sounds like Joan Didion is one of those authors.

Bless you!! *hugs*

Arkansas Patti said...

I agree with Betsy. You and Keicha can touch others who share your experience in a way no one else can. I hope that touch can bring a bit of healing for you both.

Joanne said...

Isn't it amazingly cathartic to read about someone who has gone through the same thing? It could be at times better than talking to a friend who has not gone through that experience. Your Daughter is quite a gifted writer.
Blessings, Joanne

rosaria said...

I've heard of this book, and the previous one about her husband's passing. I've hesitated, in part because I'm trying to deal with my grief on my own terms.

I shall visit your beautiful daughter's blog. Thanks for sharing.

Dee Ready said...

Dear Sally,
Thank you for sharing with such candor your emotions as you read the Didion book. I've never had children and so I know I do not truly understand the bond between parents and child. But your grief speaks to me and tears open my heart.

What is there, really, to say except I feel that this posting and your grief are holy ground and that I have figuratively removed my sandals so as to stand with you here in the loneliness and void of grief.

Peace.

troutbirder said...

A wonderful writer. Thanks for the recommendation.

Maggie May said...

It is the fact that the authoress experienced your experience that was so powerful. I am sure there are no answers as to how to handle a situation of the loss of a dear child..... but one can only share with someone else and hope that in the grieving that there will be release. A sharing of grief between two people who have shared a similar thing must have healing qualities. Keep writing ..... I am sure it is helping you and others.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Sandi said...

Hi Sally,

I'm not keeping up very well these days, so just now read this post. I'll get the book, even though I am afraid to read it. I'm coming to double anniversaries soon - my son's birth and his death. December is really hard for me.

I'm thinking of you and grateful for your openness.

Sandi

becca said...

the book sounds good

Terri Tiffany said...

I'm glad that you are taking your grief and offering to help others through it. I lost someone very close to me a few years ago--it was one of those tragedies that you keep thinking shouldn't have happened. What you said about grief is that there is not pat answer and a resolve that we look for. I believe it happens through time and action. You are doing both. Blessings.

Friko said...

I'm so very sorry for you and your family.

KathyA said...

If this book is anything like THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING it has got to be great.

What a beautifully written and cogent review.

Linda Reeder said...

I have heard about this book and about how hard it was for Joan to write it. Using this book to explore deeply your memories of your daughter must have bben very painful and yet a very loving experience too. I hope it helps to heal some of the pain.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This is a beautiful post in every way....Your review of Joan Didion's Book is so deeply felt---you know in the marrow of your bones what she is writing about and feeling. I am so very very sorry for your loss, my dear....I have not lost a daughter, but I am very close to a number of people who have lost children---in one case, my friend lost her daughter, in another---she lost her son....I know these are inconsolable losses. And though I haven't lost a child---I have such empathy for you and Joan Didion and my two friends who have experienced this loss and will continue to, till they draw their last breath. Having experienced some very terrible losses myself---some I will never get over---I found Joan Didion's last book and this one, spoke to my heart on such a deep deep level....This one even more so than "The Year Of Magical Thinking"....She exposed her vulnerability in such a way---Well, it resonated with my own--Especially about this time of realization of how fragile we become at a certain point in our lives---I feel I am in such a similar place, myself....

I thank you for coming and visiting my blog and for your heartfelt comment. I send you virtual hugs to let you know I care about your healing....
(((((((((hugs))))))))))))
I LOVED your daughters post about her cousins and the history they all share---especially on that day of the funeral. These are healings bonds, too, aren't they?

Jeanie said...

This is such a brave and beautiful review, Sally. It has been on my list for sometime, and I'm glad to hear it resonates, despite the pain that may well accompany it. When I worked at Ele's Place one of the parents once said there is solidarity in the loss of a child. Yes, I can see that in your words.

Three cheers to your posts of books on grieving. I will share your links with a number of people.

Have Myelin? said...

I lost my daughter too and someone suggested I read this book but with a skeptical .... nose.

I have MS (so does Didion) and it is thought her daughter really died of alcoholism but she did not address it in her book. She spoke of it elsewhere (newspaper articles, etc) but she wanted other reasons for her daughter's death. Not uncommon when you're in denial...something I have trouble with when it comes to alcoholism.

I guess since I have been through this with my own daughter I am not too impressed with Didion. She appears cold....