Living Forward After Loss: Rebuilding Your Life After Losing Your Life Partner describes the poignant challenges Kathleen Ho faced during the first 18 months after her husband David died from a stroke, with Ho providing suggestions to help others navigate this heartbreaking path.
“If you have met death,” she writes, “I share this unimaginable pain with you. But I want you to be blissful again. Our life is too short and precious to be dissatisfied and vengeful . . . you must have the courage to stand up back [sic].”
Ho provides a mixture of personal stories, inspirational quotes, practical suggestions, snippets of information from experts, grief-related resources, and historical examples to help other people find bliss after a tragic loss. Most chapters include a bulleted summary of key points, which is helpful as a reference.
She is willing to be vulnerable when revealing her pain, frustration, and depression and discusses her low points, including when a friend needed to persuade her not to commit suicide.
The author employs a conversational tone, which will likely appeal to many readers. When sharing personal anecdotes, though, her writing can meander, with some stories closely resembling ones already shared in the book. Some readers may prefer more structure. The text also includes numerous copyediting errors and could use tightening.
Additionally, strategies that worked well for Ho may not suit someone else. Well-intentioned people, for example, would tell her how “life is too short to be discontented” and that she “should be grateful for being healthy and alive”; she offers the same type of advice to readers. This is easier said than done for someone in the grips of deep grief and may not resonate or be the best approach for everyone.
Ho’s book will likely be perceived as a guiding light for some people, but not everyone will be served best by taking her approach, especially just 18 months after a major loss.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.