Why did I choose this book?
I know, I know; it’s the middle of September. Why am I writing my August book review now? I was looking at Elstow Abbey website one day, where both my parents are recently interred, and reading Father Paul’s newsletter, where he talked of how he felt the best way he could support folks through their grief is by being kind. He also mentioned reading Richard Coles’ book.
Did I want to read it so soon after my parents had both been laid to rest?
Would it be cathartic? Would it stir up all of those feelings of helplessness and overwhelming sadness once more?
In the end I downloaded it, but could only read the book in small doses, but neither could I indulge in reading a novel in between.
Did you feel empathy with any particular character?
Of course! Rev Richard Coles is pouring out his grief, feelings, thoughts and behaviour of himself, his dogs, his friends and acquaintances when faced with the loss of David, the love of his life. I do not have a dog but can imagine, if you are living on your own, having dogs snuggling up to you through the night would be such a comfort for them as well as for yourself. I was stirred by his honesty; his ability to paint a picture in words of every scene and yes, his sense of humour even at the darkest times of despair and hopelessness. I have to admit I have not, to my knowledge, listened to him talk on Radio 4 or on TV and so I had no preconceived idea of what Richard is like as a person, but I immediately warmed to the man; the church minister and the person who is obviously an extremely good and loyal friend to those close to him.
Is there a lasting thought or memory of the book which remains with you?
Yes, certainly, but one is painful and the other is heartwarming.
I was shocked by the ‘few’ and I hope that is the case, messages and letters from those who purport to be Christians and yet were not only judgmental but viciously cruel in their choice of words at such a sad time in Richard Coles’ life. Where is Christian love? Where is the evidence of ‘loving one another as I have loved you’?
I felt warmed to the offer of two very dear friends, Beth (I think it was her name ~ hard to look back on Kindle) who helped with the practical side of sorting David’s things in a way that Richard could never do in his state of mind but she was also there for him as a companion when he needed it most. Then there was Lorna, whose long term friendship offered a place to live as Richard ‘found himself’ once more. The generosity of both of these ladies (and other relations and friends too) to be there and just allow Richard to grieve in his own way and his own time, felt like being surrounded by an alpaca blanket; soft, soothing, warm and full of love.
And finally, because ‘The Madness of Grief’ deserves a final word, this book would be an eye opener and helpful not only to those bereaved, but also to those who wish to support them, and even folks who wish to widen their understanding of human experiences.