Verdict: WIFE OF THE DECEASED is an honest, valuable, and clearly written memoir that will help others through the process of grieving for a lost loved one.
A widow must come to terms with the loss of her husband and learn to go on with her life without him.
Dawn Bell had a wonderful life—a beautiful daughter, a fulfilling job, good friends, and most of all, a loving and much-beloved husband. That changed when, on Sept. 3, 2010, her husband, Matt Bell, a UPS pilot, died in a plane crash in Dubai at the age of thirty-eight. All of a sudden, Dawn was thrown into the role of a grieving widow, with a four-year-old daughter to care for and a crushing burden of pain and loss. This book is the detailed account, taken from her journal entries, of the first three years of her widowhood, and of how she learned to get back on her feet and cope despite her grief.
WIFE OF THE DECEASED is a raw, clear, and honest memoir, putting forth Bell’s emotions and actions in stark detail, even when they are unflattering or irrational. Her goals, as she herself states them, are to ease the suffering of those in grief for a loved one, “demonstrating what a typical day engulfed in grief looks and feels like,” and validating “a fellow griever’s pain, rage, sadness and hopelessness.” By these measures, she succeeds admirably. Her writing is emotionally vivid, and her account of her day-to-day life after Matt’s death is more affecting precisely for being matter-of-fact and straightforward in its description of her feelings and actions. Her willingness to put all her feelings on the table will undoubtedly be valuable for those who feel guilty about, for example, feeling irrational anger at a would-be-sympathizer, or not being able to cope with socialization at a difficult time, or other problematic emotions and needs. Even though at times her own struggle keeps her from being the mother she wants to be, her relationship with her daughter is deep and her ability to express and understand Ava’s feelings is admirable. Anyone who is caring for a child who has lost a parent will find something to help them through the process here, if only a sense that they are not alone and are not awful for not always being perfectly present and not always knowing exactly how to help their child. The memoir does bounce around an awful lot from moment to moment and from event to event, but that only adds to the feeling of authenticity and the from-the-heart perspective. Her Christian religious views are clearly outlined, and will add to the value of the book for those who share them, but the book is not overwhelmingly colored by religion, and there is something of use here for everyone.
WIFE OF THE DECEASED is an honest, valuable, and clearly written memoir that will help others through the process of grieving for a lost loved one.