Option B is a tough but necessary read. Sheryl Sandberg shares her experience of being a widow with young children, using her grief as an example of how to deal with adversity. It’s important to know this setting out, because the time isn’t always right to read about death. The book covers a wide variety of traumatic experiences, adding yet more depth to the perspective.
We learn that what makes trauma hard to overcome is the belief that it is personal, pervasive, and permanent. Whatever has happened, it happened to me, it has ruined everything, and I will never feel any way other than I feel right now. The work of grieving is the thankless task of earning wisdom. This happens, it just happens sometimes, it has happened to others just as it did to me, time will pass, and eventually I will learn to accept this terrible loss.
It’s hard to know what to say to someone who is going through grief or a major life crisis. Part of the reason is that the wounds can be so raw, there really isn’t anything anyone could say that wouldn’t rub wrong. I severed a friendship after my grandmother died because I was offended that he called her Nana. As though she were his! The temerity! I look back and realize that I repaid kindness with cruelty, and I’m shocked that it felt so justified at the time. We were young-ish, and neither of us had yet lost a close relative. Neither of us knew our way through the gauntlet. Hurt hurts.
One of the great strengths of Option B is its discussion of how to talk to people about their tragedies. It could serve as an instruction manual. How do you talk to someone without stumbling into one of the many, many pitfalls? How do you talk about your own loss with others? The next time I find myself in that situation (on either end), I believe I will pick up this book and seek some advice.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.