Richard Gilbert A.B.,M.Div, FAAGC, CPBC

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Fasten your seat belts. Grab on to a good friend and all of your inner resources, for this book is not an easy read. Almost like a soap opera with every page a cliffhanger, this book is one of the most overwhelming, yet persuasively caring books I have every read. Most of all, even in its occasional brutal honesty, it is one of the most helpful pastoral looks at spirituality, especially for the bereaved, that I have ever read.

. . . one of the most helpful pastoral looks at spirituality,
especially for the bereaved, that I have ever read.

Andrea Maresco (Joanetta Hendel) is a bereaved parent. Her young son died of respiratory complications. The death of any child is a horror packed in surprises. The child (Benjamin) died of respiratory problems that were not expected…just like the death of a child is never expected, and certainly never welcome. The book is the diary of feelings, experiences and insights of a woman who lost a child, lost a husband, lost a marriage, nearly lost her own emotional wellbeing, and on many occasions, felt she had lost the God she had come to know and to trust.

The book is a page by page expose of what some couples go through after the death of a child. We see the pain and struggle of the father (seldom written about), and see demonstrated most vividly the truth that death does not fix broken relationship, but scatters the pieces further and further from any recognizable expression of relationship. The father was abusive, controlling, subject to a variety of addictive behaviors, and he had those tendencies before Benjamin’s death. As happens in grief, we fall back on whatever is “normal” for us, and that becomes our set of journey markers. Edward, the husband/father, had a very poor set of markers to rely on for his journey, and the worst rose to the top in its destructive fury that left everyone scattered and scarred.

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