Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Widow's Book Corner - The Alchemy of Loss

I bought The Alchemy of Loss by Abigail Carter some time ago and hadn't gotten around to reading it until a few weeks ago. The Amazon description is included below...

From Publishers Weekly
Carter's husband, C. Arron Dack, was probably in Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the World Trade Center, when the planes hit on 9/11. Although she hoped he'd miraculously survived, when he didn't turn up the next day, her grieving began. Carter, who now lives in Seattle, Wash., bases her grieving process on a book by Kathleen Brehony called After the Darkest Hour: the first stage, blackening, which in alchemy strips down lead to its original alloys, corresponded to her initial phase of disorienting grief, when she hardly knew how to live day to day, much less how to comfort their two small children, ages two and six. Next, the whitening stage purified the metal; for Carter, some new routines took hold and she started feeling as though she might make it. The final stage, reddening, when the base metal turns to pure gold, corresponded to Carter's own enlightenment. She accepted that she wasn't very good at her former job anymore, and she accepted that she didn't want to live in the house or the town that she'd shared with her husband. Resilient in the end, Carter shares all her doubts and fears along the way, which other grieving widows may appreciate.

Publishers Weekly is correct, I appreciated this book and Abigail sharing her story. Her husband's death was very different but in the end; grief is the same. Abigail discussed the up and down periods very well and made me again understand, it's just how it is.

I did find myself thinking, would it be easier to have the whole nation grieving with you? I felt that at least the country stopped with her when her world stopped. For me, after the initial couple of weeks, it was hard to discover that time had kept ticking without my Matt here, that the world didn't stop. But Abigail also shared some difficulties with the situation besides the obvious such as not having a memorial that she thought was unique to her husband. There is no "perfect" way to lose a loved one. Each circumstance has its uniqueness that makes it especially difficult.
After reading this book, I realized that 9/11 left a HUGE wake of grieving people. I mean, I knew this when it happened but now I feel it. I will never forget standing in my college sophomore apartment watching the Towers fall. Everyone talks about remembering 9/11 but this book and my loss really made me think about all those grieving afterwards. I can't even imagine. Sometimes you simply can't understand grief until you go through it.

I went to Hot Yoga tonight led by one of my favorite Insturctors. The Instructor  shared at the begninning of class that he was in the military and had lost friends on 9/11 so he wanted to have a memorial type class and encouraged us to stay silent and he would do as he quietly guided us through the postures. He reminded us that part of meditation is understanding that it is impossible to quiet our minds and that we are not the hectic scattered thoughts racing through us.
On the train today, I was contemplating which grief/widow book to read next. I remembered that on last week's episode of the Housewives, Carole Radziwill mentioned a book by the widow of a former football player, Pat Tillman. I was espcially intersted given Matt's love for football. I googled the topic and learned that Pat Tillman was an Arizona Cardinals player who left the team to enlist in the wake of 9/11 and lost his life in Afghanistan. His wife. Marie Tillman, wrote the book The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, and Life. This book shares the story of their love through letters exchanged between them for years. Pat even left Marie a last letter should he never return. I also found an article about Marie in the Chicago Tribune written last month. The article shared that she had just moved to Chicago with her new husband and 6 month old baby. I felt very connected to those that lost on September 11th, eleven years ago today. Needless to say, this will be my next book.

Today I am remembering all those lives lost eleven years ago and the people that were left behind grieving. I hope that those that mourned have lived on to find happiness and peace.


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