So Sorry for Your Loss: How I Learned to Live with Grief, and Other Grave Concerns
April 11, 2023
Union Square & Co.
Paperback, 240 pages
“Is one form of loss tougher to cope with than another? Grief is grief.”
So Sorry for Your Loss: How I Learned to Live with Grief, and Other Grave Concerns by Dina Gachman is not a self-help or how-to book. Rather, it is a compassionate, realistic glimpse at losing a loved one, the following grief and emotional eruptions, the learned coping mechanisms, and the much-needed healing that will hopefully happen over time.
Everyone processes the loss of family, friends, and even beloved pets differently, with sorrow often building long before the actual death. Through this remarkable non-fiction, Dina Gachman takes readers on her own journey of losing her mother to cancer and losing her younger sister to alcoholism barely two years later. The author also outlines other types of reactions to death, such as the widowhood effect and collective grief, and ways to navigate the process, such as employing a death doula, who can provide emotional, physical, and educational support throughout the dying process of a loved one.
The author points out the staggering reality of mourning in a society that does not always accept prolonged grief, especially in the workplace. Moreover, disability care and end-of-life care, such as hospice at home, can leave caregivers scrambling to learn how to care for their disabled or dying family members on their own while juggling sadness, uncertainty, stress, and their own self-care. In So Sorry for Your Loss, Gachman also touches on how others typically approach the grief-stricken. Common ways of expressing sympathy include dropping off casseroles and offering overused sentiments, such as “so sorry for your loss” or “my condolences,” which are not always helpful but still better than saying “time heals all wounds,” or worse, saying nothing. When mired in worry and sorrow, Dina Gachman discovered what people have been experiencing for centuries: The world does not stop simply because grief has you in a chokehold or a holding pattern. The author encourages others to find what helps them cope and get up in the morning, such as seeking grief counseling, joining a support group, and staying connected with family and friends, rather than retreating into loneliness and silence.
“Grief thrashes and roars, until it settles into a rhythm we can live with.”
The pacing of So Sorry for Your Loss is as quick or as slow as each reader needs it to be. Some parts will be relatable and scrape open emotional wounds, and other areas will evoke empathy for the author’s agonizing journey of losing her mother and sister and the emotional internal and external aftermath. Through her gentle prose, Gachman highlights that while patience is key when grieving, it is still okay to be furious at the universe; keep a loved one’s favorite shirt for years or forever; and allow the tears to flow unabated, even in public. Mourning has no set roadmap or expiration date.
The Epilogue offers extra material that will help others maneuver the landmine of grief, including A Few Things I’ve Learned about Grief, Recipes That Temporarily Annihilate Feelings of Grief, and some suggested resources, such as Al-Anon, Cancer Care, and Evermore. Dina Gachman is no stranger to loss, and her advice, borne out of her personal experience, is invaluable to anyone facing the daunting task of becoming a caregiver, reacting to family or friends in the throes of addiction, or accepting the need and the grace to cry and curse the unfairness of cancer, addiction, death, and that empty chair at the dinner table.
Dina Gachman is a Pulitzer Center Grantee and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Vox, Texas Monthly, and more. She's a bestselling ghostwriter, and her new book SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS: How I Learned To Live With Grief, and Other Grave Concerns, will be published spring 2023 by Union Square & Co.