There is a comfort that comes from reading a book about grief that resonates in our heart. Because it is written by someone who also has felt the grip of grief as we have. There is an understanding that goes beyond the professional alone and this book is one of those.
In 1987 Judith Bernstein’s son died following a battle with cancer. She was unprepared as so many of us are for such a devastating loss. As a psychologist at that time she knew that many professionals believed there was a fixed period of grieving. A loss was something to be gotten over. Yet as a bereaved mother she kept asking how you would ever get over this? What can be normal again after you’ve lost a ‘child’?
Her own experience of loss led her to find out more than just what she was thinking. What were other parents thinking. How were they coping and how were they living after the death of their own children. In “When the Bough Breaks” she shares those very things and gives thanks to the parents who so openly welcomed her into their world.
Arranged in two parts, the first deals with the impact of grief itself. What influences the way we deal with grief and how do we mourn? What makes us similar in that mourning and yet very different? Here in her recounting of the interviews she touches in on many things – the relationship we have with our child, our intimate relationships, the loss of an only child and the way the child died, including murder and suicide. When she talks of ‘child’ their age ranges from three to forty-nine with an average age of nineteen.
Part two is focused on the rest of our lives. Despite the sadness, there is living. Life is forever changed as well as our relationships with others. In her interviews she taps into the day to day difficulties of living after loss – dealing with “the hardest question”, the masks we wear and facing difficult days. We hear how those who have walked before us have picked up the pieces of the nightmare they found themselves in.
She says of her book, “The message of this book is that parents do not return to normal after losing a child. Rather, the ordeal, like the earthquake, changes the terrain of our lives….”
This book is a sensitive and inspiring journey of loss and adaptation. It describes how parents changed through their loss. What helped and what hindered their mourning and how they were able to come to terms with a world in which it was possible for their children to die. In the information shared so openly by these parents it gives much hope and comfort to all of us who walk a similar path.
Maureen Hunter is an inspirational writer and grief steps mentor giving comfort and hope to many. She is passionate about helping people to step through grief and build a new and different life after loss, one in which their loved one is always a part of.