Book ReviewsPraying Our Grief: Comfort and Prayers for Widows

Book written by Linda Perrone Rooney

 

Resurrection Press

(Totowa, N.J., 2008)

64 pp. $5.95

 

Each of us feels and deals with our grief in our own way, and it always seems presumptuous to me when some writer says, “Here’s the way to handle it.” It was with that in mind that I picked up Linda Perrone Rooney’s book, Praying Our Grief: Comfort and Prayers for Widows. At only 64 pages and measuring 5 by 7 inches, the size and page format of the slim book didn’t bode well either and yet, from its very start, it captured my imagination and hope.

 

The first thing that strikes you as you thumb through this book is the table of contents. The 30 chapter titles seem like a checklist of the emotions, concerns, obstacles, fears and hopes you will encounter as you deal with the death of a loved one.

 

Chapter 1 is titled “I Can’t Believe This Is Happening.” The author writes in a way that seems to apply to all of us: “Letting go of a life-partner with whom you have shared an enriching and powerful exchange of love is heart-breaking. For those whose marriage was difficult or disappointing, the heartbreak remains, because anyone who has struggled to build a successful marriage clings to the hope that it will one day happen. Death deals a fatal blow to those dreams.” She continues: “Whether he died after a prolonged illness, or suddenly, without warning, it’s normal to experience a sense of disbelief in the face of a husband’s death. This denial doesn’t necessarily leave in the first hours or days, so be gentle with yourself as your new reality is revealed to you.”

 

“Making Funeral Arrangements” is the subject of Chapter 2. The author then moves onto such practical concerns as “Facing the Family” (Chapter 3), “The Need for Solitude” (Chapter 6) and “Conquering Anxiety” (Chapter 10). Other chapter titles include “Being Single in a Couple’s World” (Chapter 18), “I Can’t Do This By Myself … Can I?” (Chapter 23) and – the final chapter – “Rainbows After the Flood.”

 

Each chapter begins with a short essay, followed by an “action” thought. For example, the “action” thought for Chapter 17 is: “Anger is a good emotion to journal about. When you experience anger, even provoked by something real, you have at least two choices: let it go and respond in a way that affirms your values, or name your anger and talk it out. The old advice of ‘counting to ten’ before responding is actually very healthy. … Never go to bed angry; instead, release your anger to God, in prayer, and ask for guidance in shaping your response.” Each “action” thought is followed by a prayer, a scripture passage for reflection and a journaling suggestion.

 

 

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Having gone through the traumatic loss of a loved one, I can well appreciate the stages that each chapter represents. Some stages will take longer than others, depending on the individual. But still, it is good to know that there are chapters beyond the suffering now being experienced.

 

This is a book I would especially recommend to bereavement committee members; they might also suggest this book to widowed people who could benefit from it. I would also recommend this as a book that could be read by couples who are planning their “pre-need arrangements”; reading this book together might better prepare the spouse who will be left to face all these problems someday.

 

Printed with permission from The Southern Cross.

 

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