Balboa Press

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By Anna Hodges Oginsky

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In an era where a grieving populace is saturated and irritated by those telling them to embrace grief, Anna Hodges Oginsky validates the healing power of befriending grief that, in another author’s less skillful hands, would come across as New Age psycho-babble.

As author Anna Hodges Oginsky goes through the Kubler–Ross steps of grieving after the sudden death of her beloved father, she writes about her personal approaches to finding meaning and relief.

A friend of mine who was once in rehab told me that the counselor said, regarding pain and the alcohol used to dull it, that pain was a part of life and one must accept it without resorting to drinking that is at best, a very temporary fix that can actually make the depression worse and shorten one’s life.

I was reminded of this incident reading Oginsky’s terrific book. Rarely have I seen an author bare their soul to this extent. She gives the reader how hopeless her emotional situation was over the unexpected death of her father. She shows a shattered heart and her inability to get to the healing process: one telling example occurs when listening to the eulogy about her father being in a “better place;” Oginsky practically screams off the page,”NO HE IS NOT IN A BETTER PLACE. THIS IS WHERE HE IS SUPPOSED TO BE. THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE THAN RIGHT HERE. WITH  “NO HE IS NOT IN A BETTER PLACE. THIS IS WHERE HE IS SUPPOSED TO BE. THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE THAN RIGHT HERE. WITH US.”

But the value of this book for mourners, soon-to-be mourners, and even those not yet confronted with the death of a loved one, is how Oginsky was able to move onto the healing stage.  She did so, by not fighting or avoiding grief, but by befriending it.  This takes the process much further than the above-mentioned rehab counselor.  His remedy was to accept pain but not use it positively.  Oginsky’s is to use it, not in manipulative or selfish way, but in a productive fashion. From this she accepts that it is healthy to be in denial, to be depressed to the point of stasis, and by recognizing and befriending the other-wise crippling grief she can have a happier, healthier life.

Books of this type have the danger of falling into New Age psychobabble or Bible-thumping, or worse, a superior quality; all of which alienate readers who don’t find solace via spiritualism. Oginsky avoids these howlers, and writes in a clear, succinct way that draws readers in.

~Ron Capshaw for IndieReader