Within weeks of losing my daughter Katie in a car accident, I began searching for resources to help navigate my grief and heal the hole that was left in my soul. I picked up books that I scoffed at without even opening, I tried to read theoretical books written by therapists and researchers, and I spent hours at the library. I wanted someone to speak my language of loss. I needed to find an author whose experience mirrored mine and could help me deal with my grief.
While perusing Amazon for possible purchases, I read the “look inside feature” of Kelly Buckley’s book Gratitude in Grief. If you are not aware of that feature on Amazon, it lets you read a few chapters of each book and often times allows you to peek at the table of contents which I always find insightful. This features give you a really good feel for what the book is about. After reading the introduction to Kelly’s book, I ordered it immediately and waited for its arrival.
Kelly’s son, Stephen, died in a boating accident at the young age of 23, so I suppose I identified with her shocking loss since my daughter died suddenly in a car accident at the age of 17.
But what really inspired me when I read her book, was Kelly’s choice to deal with her son’s death in a different way; one that brought her healing, honoured him, and was just so.....inspiring. Even though Kelly’s pain is palpable in her words, the reader can see that she has chosen peace and gratitude as a means of managing the unthinkable.
The very best part of Gratitude in Grief is that I could apply Kelly’s “one little thing” approach to my own path, starting that very moment. Kelly and her younger son found one little thing to be thankful for each and every day. This simple act helped them look for the good that was still all around them and helped them focus on Stephen’s life, not his death.
I liked this idea and approach and began taking baby steps forward by doing this too. Sitting at the supper table with my husband and son, we stared in silence at the empty chair at the table; Katie’s spot. Soon after reading Kelly’s book, I asked them “what was the best thing about your day?” The answers weren’t always rosy, but it did make us focus on being grateful for just a moment and some days we giggled at memories of Katie and her silly rants at the supper table that always made dinnertime entertaining in our house.
Did Gratitude in Grief “fix” my grief? No. Anyone on this path knows that grief cannot be fixed and that it will never go away. Did this book challenge me and frustrate me at times? If I am honest, yes it did. Gratitude was a tough pill to swallow in those early days and sometimes the very thought of being grateful after my daughter died aggravated me a bit. But after practicing the act of gratitude just a little bit here and there, like at the supper table, I felt a shift within myself. I found that I looked for that “one little thing” so that when I lay in bed at night, I had something new to add to my gratitude list.
Kelly wrote her book with the intention to help other people after the loss of a loved one. She sprinkles humour throughout her heartache as she shares her daily thoughts over the first few months after her son Stephen died. Her approach is admittedly unconventional and non-traditional but it helps the reader reflect on their love and to live their best life.
You can find Kelly’s book on Amazon or her website: https://www.kellybuckley.com