In this debut memoir and self-help guide, Powers examines the grieving process from firsthand experience, using the informative language of clinical psychology.
In 2001, the author, a psychologist, suffered two immense losses: her husband, Bob, died after a battle with kidney cancer, and her daughter, Chris, was the victim of a heroin overdose. Distraught, devastated, and lost, she turned to her background in clinical psychology for guidance. At the start of the book, she declares that “we must match the ruthlessness of grief with our own zealous action....I might have remained lost if I hadn’t given the process all of my attention and creative energy.” Thus, she deeply examines the titular concept of “ruthless grieving” by relating her own journey “through to the other side of loss.” She explains how the experience can be different for every person. For example, she says that her husband’s death was peaceful, surrounded by friends and family; several months of sickness prepared them all for his passing. She notes that there was time to tie up loose ends, work out paperwork, express love, and ponder spirituality together. By contrast, she says, the death of her daughter, less than three months later, was a horrifying shock. The author doesn’t shy away from divulging her own deep, complicated feelings about what she calls the “unheroic death” of her daughter, and devotes a good portion of the book to examining different ways of coping with losses brought on by addiction and suicide. Her story forges a continuous narrative through various aspects of therapy, creating an engaging yet informative read. The book’s rawness and truth is commendable and, at times, heartbreaking. It’s no easy feat to confront such torturous feelings head on, and Powers does so with love, valor, and unwavering perseverance. Although the book has a tendency to be redundant, it works overall, as the author encourages readers “to pick and choose sections of the book as your interest and needs develop.” Interactive questions and a “Twelve Steps of Grieving” guide are useful, clever tools to assist readers who wish to write about their own grieving process in order to better understand themselves.
An essential book for those struggling with grief, and particularly those suffering from the loss of a loved one through addiction.