WordPress blogger Carol Balawyder‘s book Mourning Has Broken explores her grieving process after the death of her sister.
As with many griefs, Carol’s is entangled with her mourning over losing other relatives and friends and even her retirement. She writes:
I try to separate my sister’s loss from that of my mother, who died nine months before Diana. Daughter. Sister. They weave into each other by stitches on a quilt. To grieve the loss of a mother and a sister at the same time is more than the sum of the two parts.
Carol identifies her book as a memoir, but it’s not a memoir in the usual sense. Instead, it’s written in the form of lyrical essays. They are all stand-alone pieces, but together they function to give the book an arc, thereby making it a memoir in a nontraditional sense.
The journey of Carol’s grieving takes place against a spiritual landscape, but Carol herself is not a particularly religious person. That she keeps searching in religious and spiritual arenas shows me that she is a very spiritual person. She refers to herself as an immature person on more than one occasion, but I found her to be a wise person in many respects.
The high point, or climax, of the book’s plot arc, occurs in the title essay “Mourning Has Broken.” In this piece, Carol’s new Reiki Master tells her that at the commemorative for Diana, Diana will give Carol a sign if Carol asks for one. When Carol’s sister gives her a sign it’s more powerful than imagined and has a profoundly healing effect on both Carol and on the reader going on this journey with Carol (the book’s protagonist I refer to here, rather than the actual Carol).
The writing style of the book is beautiful and distinctive, but I felt as if my best friend was sharing with me. I found myself very charmed by the book. I also made notes throughout the book, so that I can refer back to passages later.
All memoirs are part reflection and part storytelling, but the majority are heavier on the storytelling than the reflection. Lyrical essays tend to be heavier on reflection. In this book, Carol creates a perfect balance of the two (50-50? maybe), which I find fitting for the subject of living through grieving.
Carol’s book is the loveliest book about grief and mourning that I’ve read.
There are a few typos Carol’s editor left in the book, but Carol is cleaning them up in the Kindle edition. If you’re interested in reading Carol’s fiction, she has a story online at the literary journal carte blanche. You can find “The Witness” here.