I have spent some time away from blogging this week - not really by design - work, reading and life in general just sort of took over. I think I was also suffering from the "post holiday blues" a little and felt I should wallow a little in that emotion!
I actually finished The Young Widow's Book of Home Improvement By Virginia Lloyd last weekend but I felt I needed some time to digest it's story and beauty before I wrote about it and how it impacted upon me.
I have worked as a bereavement counsellor in the past and have experienced my own personal losses and my upcoming PhD research will be conducted into the area of grief and loss. It is a topic I do a lot of reading and thinking about.
This book is one of the most amazing first person accounts I have read. I was so moved by Virginia's story surrounding the meeting of her husband and his death from cancer only 11 months after their marriage. Virginia talks on her blog about not wanting the story to come across as "all gloom and doom" and I believe she truly succeeds in this. I felt the story was full of life and hope as Virginia writes about the physical and emotional aspects of caring for John as the cancer consumes his body and about the grief that then consumes her after John dies.
Whilst I found the whole book amazing the part that impacted on me the most was near the end of the book when Virginia writes about John's last moments before death. He is in hospital and Virginia is with him but what makes the moment so beautiful is the way that Virginia lies beside John in his hospital bed (due to John's illness they had been unable to sleep in the same bed for the majority of their marriage). Virginia writes:
I climbed over the rails of the hospital bed and lay the full length of my body against his. John and I were lying together again, as husband and wife.
The honesty with which Virginia writes her story is probably the thing that makes you connect with the story, and with her, so strongly.
As a health worker, lecturer but mostly as a person this book has moved me and I would certainly recommend it to anyone wanting to connect with a story that makes us think and reflect on our own experiences of life and death in an honest, raw and compassionate way.