Grief possesses an incredible ability to sharpen and obfuscate thought. One moment the world is seen with perfect clarity while the following moment the griever can feel untethered and rapidly losing any mooring in this world. Writing about grief becomes paradoxically easy and difficult. The ease stems from the manner in which words effortlessly fill the page. The difficulty arises with the realization that no amount of words will ever draw close enough to an adequate description. I am grateful for writers who have attempted to make sense of their unique grief. Grief is individually unique, yet one person’s experiences can reveal so much about us.
A good grief memoir tells us: This path has been walked before. Yes, you have yet to walk it and your footprints might not fit the prints already present, but a path does not become a path until many many people have trudged the same swatch of land.
These five memoirs capture the confusion, heartache, fear, and nascent hope of grief.
Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (loss of her husband)
Philip Roth's Patrimony (loss of his father)
Meghan O'Rourke's The Long Goodbye (loss of her mother)
Joyce Carol Oates' A Widow's Story (loss of her husband)
C.S Lewis' A Grief Observed (loss of his wife)