Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: On Loss and Living Onward by Melissa Dalton-Bradford

Title: On Loss and Living Onward: Collected Voices for the Grieving and Those Who Would Mourn With Them
Author: Melissa Dalton-Bradford
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Source: Digital Copy

When it was nearing time for me to leave for college, I started counting the days. As the day of departure grew near, and I got more and more excited, I was a little shocked to see my mom in mourning. It wasn't until I was working in college admissions that I realized that this was a thing-- that parents had a hard time letting go of their college-age children. When it was time for Melissa Dalton-Bradford's oldest son, Parker, to go away to college, she must have been going through some of these emotions. But her mourning for losing her son to college turned tragic when he died in a swimming accident during freshman orientation. Dalton-Bradford, who uses her skill as a poet to beautifully craft this memoir, uses this experience of losing Parker as the grounding narrative of On Loss and Living Onward, with stories about her own experience anchoring each of the sections of the book, but she also includes essays from others, along with quotes from famous (and not so famous) people who are intimately familiar with loss.

While I can see that On Loss and Living Onward would be very beneficial for people who are grieving a loved one, I read it as someone who does not know the pain of loss. For readers like me, it's an excellent primer, an insight into grief and loss, emotions none of us will escape if we're lucky to live long enough. Dalton-Bradford deftly shares her own story and instructs her readership. I feel like I now have a better sense of knowing how to mourn with those that mourn.

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