A new grief book I appreciate.

Different people talk differently, comfort differently, choose different vocabulary and styles of speech. Because I’m a words and speech person, I notice that.

When I offer comfort, I try to use fewer rather than more words. I try to offer less rather than more “there there” language and “umm hmm”. Though I often have a tear when I talk with a family, though I will occasionally hug a guy who has lost a dad, I avoid touch.

Lots of grief books speak with a soft voice, talking about how much you must be hurting and how they can’t imagine the pain. There are lots of words.

Sometimes, however, the person writing doesn’t have to imagine the pain. 

And sometimes they can speak with specificity about what’s hard and what has to be done, and give practical guidance. For a few years, Nora McInerny has written and spoken in this space. 

Now, Clarissa Moll brings us a thoughtful, practical account of grief, drawing from her own experience as a self-described young widow. 

Now Clarissa brings us Beyond the Darkness: A Gentle Guide for Living with Grief and Thriving after Loss.

Her personification of grief as someone that comes to live with you is, for me, the most compelling concept. Sometimes as an unwanted but inevitable house guest, sometimes as a toddler maturing. Then she talks about five dimensions of loss: physical, practical, emotional, spiritual, and parental. She writes about what happens when the grief isn’t new. She talks to the church about how hard going to church can be after a loss.

I find it a helpful resource.

  • Rather than me outlining the book, see this review by Gayle Clark
  • For a taste of Clarissa’s writing, this article came out in July 2022: “My Husband Died Suddenly in the Wilderness
  • And to hear her voice, listen to “Surprised by Grief” with Clarissa Moll and Daniel Harrell. Each of the hosts of this podcast lost a spouse in 2019. Clarissa’s husband, Rob, died in a climbing accident. Daniel’s wife died with pancreatic cancer. But these two had already thought about life and death more than most people. Rob wrote a book, The Art of Dying, several years before his death, and Daniel was working as a pastor. They talk about their own experiences and the work they are doing with others and invite us into the conversation. The content is often hard, but listening to them interact is remarkably helpful.
  • And, if I may be so bold, Beyond the Darkness: A Gentle Guide for Living with Grief and Thriving after Loss is a practical and profound book that picks up (at least in my mind) after my book for the first few hours of grief, This is Hard.