Comfort: A Journey Through Grief

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief a memoir by Ann Hood (2008)

“Grief is not linear. People keep telling me that once this happened or that passed, everything would be better. Some people gave me one year to grieve. They saw grief as a straight line, with beginning, middle, and end. But it is not linear. It is disjointed. One day you are acting almost like a normal person. You maybe even manage to take a shower. Your clothes match. You think the autumn leaves look pretty, or enjoy the sound of snow crunching under your feet.

Then a song, a glimpse of something, or maybe even nothing sends you back into the hole of grief. It is not one step forward, two steps back. It is a jumble. It is hours that are all right, and weeks that aren’t. Or it is good days and bad days. Or it is the weight of sadness making you look different to others and nothing helps. Not haircuts or manicures or the Atkins diet.

Writing about Grace, losing her, loving her, anything at all, is not linear either. . . Grief doesn’t have a plot. It isn’t smooth. There is no beginning and middle and end” (52-3).

This a very small, short book, but oh, so heavy. I could not put it down! I saw it a week or two ago on the new nonfiction shelf at one of the branch libraries, and I just knew I had to check it out.

I learned from this book that not only do older people sometimes die of a virulent strep infection, but supposedly otherwise healthy five year old children. I knew when I started this book what would happen. It says so on the book flap.

Ann Hood arrived one day in April of 2002 to pick up her 5 year old (whom she’d had at age 39) daughter Grace from ballet class, and the teacher told her that her daughter had possibly broken her arm. So they go to the ER, where they said yes, it was broken, and that the pediatric orthopedist might want to do surgery, but that is could wait a few days. Grace started running a fever, but her pediatrition wasn’t that concerned. However, Ann was concerned and took Grace back to the ER, where they still didn’t think anything serious was going on. Two days later, after surgery and intubation, Grace died in her parents’ arms, while they are singing her Beatles’ song, Grace’s favorite music.

This book is about Ann’s grief, and how she deals with it. How she deals with it differently from her husband (Lorne). How their son (Sam!) deals with it. How Ann could finally deal with sorting through Grace’s things. How she could not tolerate the song “Amazing Grace” anymore. How she gave up her love affair with the Beatles, because all things Beatles reminded her of Grace. How they missed having a little girl, but found, now in their 40s, that they could no longer conceive, even with IVF. How they adopted a baby from China. Annabelle did not, could not, replace Grace, but she brought hope and laughter back into their lives.