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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Book review: ‘Grief is Love: Living with Loss’ by Marisa Renee Lee

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It happened so fast.

One minute, your loved one was talking, laughing, alive — and the next minute they were gone, as if a thick line were drawn somewhere between life and not-life. Even if you had time to prepare, time to get used to their impending death, it happened too fast. You have to continue without them, but how? In the new book “Grief is Love” by Marisa Renee Lee, you’ll see what may be next for you.

So you’ve recently lost someone and the fog has yet to lift. You’re in disbelief and your closest companion is grief, which Lee describes as “the experience of navigating your loss, figuring out how to deal with the absence of your loved one forever” while still refusing to live without the love of the one you’ve lost.

Lee says that she was “a strong Black woman, a type-A striver” in the aftermath of her mother’s death, and she thought she had to stuff her feelings aside and bounce back quickly. She didn’t give herself a chance to understand her emotions, including guilt and anger, and tamping them down just made things worse. She came to realize that she needed permission to grieve and feel in a manner that seemed right to her.

She also needed to find a place, physically or emotionally, where she felt safe to grieve. That, she says, is particularly difficult for Black people and for men in general who may have issues with vulnerability.

She learned that grief is not a timeline or a should-anything; it can be a lifelong process that can come back to surprise you, even at the most inopportune times. Anxiety, depression and mental illness may hit you when you grieve, too; so can deep, fierce anger, as Lee learned.

Marisa Renee Lee (Photo/David Needleman)

Don’t be afraid, she says, to reach out to people you can trust to help you carry your burden. Also, don’t be afraid to set boundaries when needed. And finally, remember that you will be changed by someone’s death because, “You are their mark on this world.”

You are their legacy.

More than 6,000 people die in the U.S. every day. You’re only concerned with one of them. “Grief is Love” helps you to endure.

It may take a little double-checking, though. Author Marisa Renee Lee uses so much of her own experiences in this book that help for grieving readers may not initially feel as forthcoming as you may wish it would be. Even so, there’s much to glean inside her tales because she’s honest about her journey, her various feelings and the bumps along the road. Readers who are deep in the throes of grief will also be greatly comforted by her assertion that your person died but the love you shared never will.

Lee reminds readers that joy will eventually come by again and that seems more like a promise than anything, which is all you may need from a book like this. For you, “Grief is Love” is right for when the worst thing happened.

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