This book was suggested to me by at least three different people over the last 3 months, and on the third occasion, I decided that the Lord may be trying to give me a gift, so I picked it up!  Every page seemed to hold something for me, even though Jerry’s story includes greater losses than I can even fathom.  Several people told me it’s the best book on grief and loss they have ever read.  He deals with catastrophic loss including “terminal illness, disability, divorce, rape, emotional abuse, physical and sexual abuse, chronic unemployment, crushing disappointment, mental illness, and ultimately death.”  He says, “If normal, natural, reversible loss is like a broken limb, then catastrophic loss is like an amputation.”

Here are a few quotes from the book just to give you a taste of what you will receive in reading Jerry’s honest and transparent journey through grief and loss:

“It is not, therefore, the experience of loss that becomes the defining moment of our lives, for that is as inevitable as death, which is the last loss awaiting us all.  It is how we respond to loss that matters.  That response will largely determine the quality, the direction and the impact of our lives.”

“…[T]he quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise….  I chose to turn toward the pain, however falteringly, and to yield to the loss, though I had no idea at the time what that would mean.”

“If we face loss squarely and respond to it wisely, we will actually become healthier people, even as we draw closer to physical death.  We will find our souls healed, as they can only be healed through suffering.”

“Loss deprives us of control.  Cancer ravages, violence erupts, divorce devastates, unemployment frustrates, and death strikes–often with little warning.  Suddenly we are forced to face our limitations squarely.  Our expectations blow up in our face.  We wonder what has gone wrong.”

“People in denial refuse to see loss for what it is, something terrible that cannot be reversed.  They dodge pain rather than confront it.  But their unwillingness to face pain comes at a price.  Ultimately it diminishes the capacity of their souls to grow bigger in response to pain….  In the end denial leads to a greater loss.”

“Many people form addictions after they experience loss….  So they watch television every moment they can, work sixty hours a week, drink too much alcohol, go on a sexual rampage, eat constantly, or spend their money carelessly.  In so doing, they hold suffering at a distance.”

“Sorrow never entirely leaves the soul of those who have suffered a severe loss.  If anything, it may keep going deeper.  But this depth of sorrow is the sign of a healthy soul, not a sick soul. ”

“Loss forces us to see the dominant role our environment plays in determining our happiness.”

“The death that comes through loss of spouse, children, parents, health, job marriage, childhood or any other kind is not the worst kind of death there is.  Worse still is the death of spirit, the death that comes through guilt, regret, bitterness, hatred, immorality and despair.”

“Regret keeps the wounds of loss from healing, putting us in a perpetual state of guilt…. People with regrets can be redeemed, but they cannot reverse the loss that gave rise to the regrets.”

“Despite the fact that I had been a Christian for many years before the accident, since then God has become a living reality to me as never before.  My confidence in God is somehow quieter but stronger….  I have slowly learned where God belongs and have allowed him to assume that place–at the center of life rather than at the periphery.”

“Yet a worse state still, far exceeding even sorrow or guilt, is the absence of all feeling, for that means that the soul is dead.”

“Forgiving people give up the right to punish and instead wish wrongdoers well, whether they are starting a new marriage after a divorce or a new life after serving time in prison or a new relationship with God.  Forgiveness hopes that wrongdoers experience a good life, which is full of the mercy of God.”

“I knew I had to make peace with God’s sovereignty, reject God altogether, or settle for a lesser God who lacked the power or desire to prevent the accident.”

“No matter how deep the pit into which I descend, I keep finding God there.  He is not aloof from my suffering but draws near to me when I suffer.”

“The risk of further loss, therefore, poses a dilemma.  The problem of choosing to love again is that the choice to love means living under the constant threat of further loss.  But the problem of choosing not to love is that the choice to turn from love means imperiling the life of the soul, for the soul thrives in an environment of love.”

“Loss is a universal experience…But loss is also a solitary experience…But loss does not have to isolate us or make us feel lonely.  Though it is a solitary experience we must face alone, loss is also a common experience that can lead us to community.”