When Cariad Lloyd was 15 her dad died of pancreatic cancer. Years later, she started Griefcast, a podcast dealing honestly and openly about grief, in all its forms. This book comes out of what she’s learned through her own journey with grief and from all those she’s spoken to. It’s for people who have lost someone they loved or who know someone who has and would like to do better in navigating it.
Lloyd discusses the loss of her father at a young age, but also delves into (and picks apart) the five stages of grief that are often thrown out as the stages we should all go through and then come out at ‘acceptance’. She discusses the origins of those stages and how they have been misapplied. Spoiler alert: there’s no real end to grief. You not doing it wrong if you still feel like shit and miss your person years after they’ve gone. It’s just human to miss someone and want them back.
She also describes how modern day mourning was so influenced by Victorian Britain (this is a very UK-centric book since she is British), how before then it had been more of a free-for-all, and how the Victorians ushered in etiquette and rules. There were time periods of grief depending on who had died (brothers and sister six to eight months, uncles and aunts three to six). All this cost money and those without means had to pool together for funerals because you had to do it this one way or be shunned, I guess. Just what you need when you’ve lost someone.
Interspersed throughout are snippets from other grievers and how they’ve coped, what they’ve learned.
A couple of quotes that especially hit me:
But I have convinced myself somewhere in the back of my brain, deep, deep in the basement, that he’s not dead. I know he’s dead, but not dead you know, actually, definitely dead. He’s just dead, you know?
I suppose this is the brain’s way of protecting you, that you can continue to function, mostly, because the truth isn’t fully there all the time. It’s hiding away. I still feel, a year on, like she’s going to come back some day. If I wait long enough, she’ll be done being dead and I’ll be able to talk to her again. It’s nonsense. But it’s there.
He’s gone. There’s no grandpa for her and I feel like I’ve let her down because I had one and he was great. She doesn’t have my childhood, it’s going to be different.
Another thing that’s hard to reconcile. I had all my grandparents until I was 25. Mine really drew the short straw in that department. And so our childhoods will be different. They won’t go and spend the night at their grandparents’ house, won’t be looked after by them. Won’t get that relationship. It sucks. I hate it.
Overall this is a solid book about grief. It’s not preachy, she’s very open about her own feelings and how you can feel like you’re moving forward but then be hit by grief again. It has funny moments, her writing is very accessible. This is probably going to be my last grief book for a while (everyone cheers!). I needed them for a bit, and I guess now I do feel less alone. A little bit anyway.