Book Review

Don't Let Death Ruin Your Life
by Jill Brooke

Book Review by Meg Avery, Sugar Hill, GA

“Don’t Let Death Ruin Your Life”
by Jill Brooke

Although this book does not specifically address the loss of a child, I would highly recommend it to any bereaved parent.  The book is divided into six parts:  The Power of Memory; A Road Map Through Grief; Finding Meaning From Loss; Family Politics; Making Memories Last; and Leaving a Legacy.    A bereaved parent could relate to nearly all the issues in each of these topics.  They were presented in a very real image; not from a clinical or professional aspect.  I think one of the reasons I liked this book so much is because of the ideas it gives to make your loved one still a part of your life and not only for the individual, but for other family members and friends.  There were so many practical and genuine suggestions that made so much sense to me and gave me reason to stop and contemplate and truly relate what I was reading to what I am living.    In one chapter the author writes, “Loss is not something one should get over.  Loss is something you live with.   After all, what is grief but an emotion that says you have loved someone?”

This book stresses the importance of talking about our loved ones, and not keeping silent. The author writes:  “As the survivor we already know that it is our job to be our loved one’s historian. No one we have ever loved can totally disappear from our lives.   Our loved ones live on in our gesture, our mannerisms, our beliefs and our feelings.  The deceased leave their mark and imprint on our very being.  As a result of this internalization process, the influence of our loved ones extends far beyond death.”   It tells how important it is to share his/her favorite story, movie, color, saying, etc. as well as the treasured memories with family.  In this way, it creates a bond between generations.  Each family member should have some connections and truly, do want to know more about living and deceased family members.    The old ways of thinking “let’s not talk about him/her anymore now that they’re gone” is slowly giving way to talking more about those who are no longer with us – sharing their stories, bringing them to life for their relatives, creating a realistic impressions of their life.    It is like bringing a family tree to life; it is not enough to have a written family tree of names in a book somewhere.  Bring those names to life; talk about them; share their emotions, careers, passions, and stories. 

There are lots of great ideas for personal growth also.  Suggestions on how to handle situations, create rituals and develop survival techniques are discussed.  This book was easy to read and it came across as a very practical guide.  It didn’t make “clueless” suggestions and didn’t have any typical cliches.  It was, quite honestly, right on the mark.  The author “gets it” and that’s what makes reading this book worthwhile. 

Her closing remarks are:  “The heart is not as elastic as one would hope.  But we don’t have to accept a life where we allow the emotional scars to disfigure.  Instead, we have the choice to embrace strategies that will diminish the pain and enhance our appreciation of what we have left and what is still possible for us.  With every ending there is a beginning.   May your memories soothe you, sustain you and inspire you.”

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