Karen Trench’s husband Charlie committed suicide on April 6, 2015, without warning. She was utterly devastated by the loss, and this book is both a chronicle of how she worked through the early days of grief and despair, and a handbook for others seeking to overcome their own traumatic losses.
LOVE LOSS LIGHT is a deeply personal account, a detailed examination of the author’s deepest heartbreak and how she managed to survive and even grow from it. She does not shy away from honest exploration of her own most painful emotions, whether grief at her husband’s death or anger at him for having committed suicide. She also does not hesitate to express the warmest gratitude for those who helped her through the darkest times, whether close friends, new acquaintances, or poets and philosophers. While she is honest about her pain and the devastating effects of her loss, she is also determined to maintain a positive and uplifting outlook. Even in the darkest parts of the book, she offers a hopeful, loving perspective, focusing on her thankfulness at being surrounded by friends and family when she needed them most.
Throughout the book, Trench remains positive and focused on the value of grief as a sign of having loved and been loved, and a guide to growth and a stronger future. Her guidance is offered with a gentle and empathetic voice, expressing her beliefs and hoping that the reader, who may also be grieving, finds some comfort and help from what she has to say. Her suggestions – seeking help from friends and support groups, allowing oneself to sit through and feel one’s grief properly rather than rushing through it or trying to suppress it, and seeking spiritual and emotional guidance to grow through grief rather than to be trapped within it – are based on her own direct experience of what was helpful for her and may also be so for others. She is not judgmental – while she acknowledges anger towards her husband for making the choice to take his own life and leave her behind, she also forgives him, showing understanding and compassion for the depression that drove him to that point.
The poems and quotes with which Trench opens each chapter are well and thoughtfully chosen, often offering their own form of solace and spiritual instruction. Her perspective does lean towards the mystical and supernatural – if you are a skeptical rationalist, this book is probably not the best guide for you. However, while her own religious beliefs are not hidden, she is flexible enough, and allows enough space, for people of multiple religious traditions to find hope and wisdom in her words.
LOVE LOSS LIGHT is a warm, kindly-written and generous effort to help those who have suffered a devastating loss find hope and growth through the full experience of the grieving process.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader