When grieving is exhausting, when it has been long enough that everyone has expected you to “move on”, when even you are tired of grieving, it can be hard to sustain the strength to read a book. But sometimes, there can be nothing better than diving into someone else’s story, as a way of getting outside your own grief. Well, pull up a comfy chair and a cup of tea, Christy Wopat‘s book is like a great conversation with a good friend. If you’ve had a stillbirth or early neonatal loss, you’ll spend the whole time nodding in agreement. If you haven’t, you’ll be taken on an emotional journey through the resiliency of love. A mother’s love is like no other, even when there’s no one to “mother”.
Like me, Christy has lost twins and later went on to have two more children. Almost a Mother chronicles her loss story, as well as how she adjusted to the new normal of having children to raise. For those of us who have been through this, her book provides a great touchstone on familiar emotions. And her sense of humour makes reading it a joy, not a drag. Yes, I’ll admit to shedding a few tears, but perhaps both because I’ve reached a place in my grief where this is comfortable, they were the ‘good’ kind of tears! The ones that make you feel so much better after they’ve been released. I laughed too. Knowing how so many of us, in so many different scenarios, have still had to endure the same indignities is comforting. If you’re familiar with Christy’s work on Still Standing Magazine, you’ll know what tone she sets in her writing, which is warm and sensitive, as well as funny.
But perhaps the bigger question is why would you want to read this book if you haven’t had a loss? In many ways, this is actually an easier question to answer! Almost a Mother opens a door to this world and does so in a way that is gentle and humorous. Despite harsh criticism for those who don’t understand the pain of this grief, Christy allows you to feel empathy on all sides. It’s the kind of solid advice you get from someone who’s known you for years. I can see this book being given to a friend, who wants desperately to understand but doesn’t have the experience to draw from. When you don’t have the words, this might be a great way to subtly give them the hint!
I’ve been privileged to work with such great writers at Still Standing. They’ve helped me through my grief, improved my writing, and got me thinking about the experience of losing a child in whole new ways. I’ve seen the immense diversity of our community and despite it all, amazing commonalities between us. Almost a Mother provides Christy’s experience, and the unique relationship she has with her children Sophie and Aiden is a beautiful thing to read.