A study of the sources, mechanics, and potential of grief.
In her nonfiction debut, licensed therapist Nathan deeply probes how people can “allow grief to give us back our souls,” as bestselling self-help author Thomas Moore puts it in the book’s foreword. Grief, Nathan says, “plays games with the mind, often making you wonder how you can feel better without betraying the person or the thing you lost.” She offers readers insights and exercises to enable them to release themselves “from the grip of grief” and give themselves permission to return to “normal” life. The book advocates some simple, familiar strategies, such as keeping a journal, conducting regular self-checks regarding such basics as eating and sleeping, being aware of increased consumption of alcohol, and so on. Nathan is a consistently calming and reassuring voice throughout, repeatedly reminding readers that they’re essentially hard-wired for recovery: “Don’t discredit the soul’s ability to learn what is needed for healing,” she writes. “The psyche will only move as quickly as it is ready.” The goal during every stage of the process is to achieve a balanced, “calibrated” state, to lessen the grief’s grip. That grip tightens, Nathan explains, when the brain’s “fight, flight, freeze” response, which is meant to be temporary, tries to become permanent, which makes healing feel virtually impossible. We’re all puzzles, Nathan reminds readers, and her clear, winningly sympathetic prose seems designed to help sufferers understand themselves. One key to her solution is to admit that total control isn’t possible (she calls it “fool’s gold”), and throughout the book, Nathan skillfully anticipates this and other natural reflexes of those going through mourning.
A sensitive, multipronged approach to comprehending and surviving deep loss.