Review: Grief: The Great Yearning
I’ve written four novels, all published by Second Wind Publishing, and although I thought the subject matter of each book important enough to spend a year of my life writing and another year editing (to say nothing of the years on the arduous road to publication), I have a hard time telling people the novels are important.
The basic theme of all my novels is conspiracy, focusing on the horrors ordinary citizens have been subjected to by those in power. Most people who have read the books seem to like them (though a few who didn’t like them seemed befuddled by what I was trying to accomplish). Light Bringer in particular seems to arouse a difference of opinion. Written to be the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories, Light Bringer traces the push toward a one-world government back 12,000 years. Based on myths, both modern conspiracy myths and ancient cosmology myths, Light Bringer is a thriller, or mythic fiction perhaps (if there is such a thing). I never intended it to be science fiction since the science is gleaned from ancient records rather than futuristic imaginings, but that is how it is perceived. Still, despite the scope of the book, despite it being my magnum opus and the result of twenty years of research, I can’t in all honesty say it is important to anyone except me. It probably won’t change anyone’s life or anyone’s thinking. For the most part, we bring to books what we believe, and so those who believe in conspiracies see the importance of my novels, while those who don’t have even a smattering of belief that there are machinations we are not privy to might even think them far-fetched.
On the other hand, Grief: The Great Yearning is an important book. It is composed of journal entries, blog posts, and letters to my dead life mate/soul mate, all pieces written while I was trying to deal with the unbearable tsunami of emotions, hormones, physical symptoms, psychological and spiritual torments, identity crisis and the thousand other occurrences we lump under the heading “grief.” Because of this, the emotion in Grief: The Great Yearing is immediate, the experience palpable. This is a comfort to those having to deal with a grievous loss because they can see they are not alone. (One of the side effects of grief is a horrendous feeling of isolation.) They can see that whatever they feel, others have felt, and that whatever seemingly crazy thing they do to bring themselves comfort, others have done.
This book is also important for the families of someone who has suffered a grievous loss. Too often the bereft are told to move on, get over it, perhaps because their families don’t understand what it is the survivor has to deal with. Well, now they can get a glimpse into grief and ideally, be more patient and considerate of their bereft loved ones.
This book is especially important for writers. I’ve mostly given up reading for now because of the unrealness I keep coming across in fiction. So many novels are steeped in death, with bodies piling up like cordwood, yet no one grieves. The surviving spouses think as clearly as they did before the death. They have no magical thinking, holding two disparate thoughts in their minds at once. (For example: I know he will never need his eyeglasses, but I can’t throw them away because how will he see without them?) The characters have no physical symptoms or bouts of tears that are beyond their control. There is no great yearning to see the dead once more (and this yearning is what drives our grief, not the so-called stages). In other words, we are continually conditioned to downplay the very real presence of grief in our lives. If we don’t see people grieve in real life, in movies, in books, where are we to get a blueprint for grief?
As Leesa Healy, Consultant in Emotional-Mental Health wrote, “If people were to ask me for an example of how grief can be faced in order for the healthiest outcome, I would refer them to Grief: The Great Yearning, which should be the grief process bible. Pat Bertram’s willingness to confront grief head on combined with her openness to change is the epitome of good mental health.”
So, yes, Grief the Great Yearning is important, and it’s good to have a chance to spread my message: It is okay to grieve. It is important to grieve. And as impossible as it is to imagine now, you will survive.