This book deals with accidental death and trauma related to watching a loved one drown.
This book is recommended for adults, suicide loss survivors, overdose loss survivors, people affected by a mass-fatality event, parents who have experienced the death of a child and people supporting others who are grieving. It is not recommended as an early read after the loss of a loved one.
There is nothing wrong with grief - that is the main message embedded in Megan Devine's book, It's OK That You're Not OK (aptly subtitled: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture that Doesn't Understand). This message is greatly needed in our fix-it-quick culture where grief is often viewed as a problem to be solved within a particular time frame, rather than what it is: a normal, healthy response to profound loss and transition that has no set timeline or one-size-fits-all path forward or through. A therapist used to counseling people in grief, Devine wrote her book after watching her beloved life partner drown. This personal experience of great loss led Devine to a deeper and clearer understanding of grief not as something to be overcome but rather something that invites us to live in the reality of loss by building a new life within loss and alongside our feelings of grief.
The book is well-written - something I always appreciate - and also well-organized, full of insights and practical advice. As a grief support specialist and stress resilience trainer, I particularly like Devine's hands-on, self-care tips for managing stress and anxiety and improving sleep during the bereavement period, as well as her science-based look at the biology of grief, including information on the whys of common grief-related symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, weight changes and more - something I've never before seen in a book on grief.
One aspect of the book that gave me pause and something that some readers might find off-putting (even offensive) is Devine's attempt to rank losses in terms of a hierarchy of grief/loss. Because grief is inherently me-centered, I think this perspective - seemingly contradictory to what she says elsewhere regarding the individual nature of loss - can be attributed to Devine's continuing struggle to come to terms with the loss of her life partner and the trauma of having personally witnessed his death; the traumatic death of someone we care deeply about can be difficult to navigate no matter who we are.
- What does Megan Devine mean when she says "it's OK that you're not OK" regarding grief?
- How do cultural messages shape the way we respond to loss - our own and others'?
- Do you agree with Devine's assessment that loss experiences can be ranked and comparatively categorized?
About the Reviewer
Elizabeth Lewis is a grief support specialist, stress resilience trainer and spiritual counselor. She is a frequent blog contributor to Remembering A Life.