Friday, February 06, 2009

When God and Grief Meet by Lynn Eib (review)

When God & Grief Meet by Lynn Eib
Copyright 2009
Tyndale House - Grief/Comfort - Christian
187 pages, incl. lists of resources

Author and pastor Dan Hans, who lost his three-year-old daughter to a brain tumor, says, "To lose a parent is to lose your past; to lose a spouse or close friend is to lose your present; and to lose a child is to lose your future." Each death shakes a little different part of your world.

If you want to start a lively discussion sometime, just ask a roomful of grievers whether anyone has made an insensitive remark to them since their loved ones died. I guarantee you the recollections will be vivid, free flowing, and still hurtful no matter how much time has passed.

"God wanted another flower in His garden."
"At least you have other children."
"God must have needed her more than you do."
"At least he lived a long life."
"You're young--you'll find someone else."
"I thought you'd be over this by now."

I just finished reading When God & Grief Meet about twenty minutes ago and I thought it was one of the best grief books I've ever read, so I'm sitting down to hammer out my review while it's still fresh in my mind. Again, this is a very Christian book, with Bible verses peppered throughout the text. Some folks might not like that, but since I'm a Christian I have always found comfort, hope and reassurance in Biblical scripture.

As a grief book, in general, what I truly loved is that this book targets no specific type of loss (a parent, children, spouse, etc.) but has general appeal. The author leads a grief support group and describes examples of a variety of losses and grief experiences, along with ways people emerged from their "grief storms". She talks about the fact that grief is something that stays with you forever, but which you learn to live with. I'm sure a lot of people who've experienced loss really appreciate reading that kind of statement because we've all been told it's about time to "get over it" or have been patted on the back while someone who simply is ignorant about loss makes a completely inane statement that implies that your grief is just a flicker. For those of us who have experienced loss, we know better. Loss is not fleeting; it's a hole that is never filled. It stays with you, forever. You never, ever stop missing someone you truly loved.

Like my old favorite classic grief manual, Good Grief by Granger E. Westburg, When God & Grief Meet is the kind of book that reminds you, You're not alone. It's okay to still feel that absence, even years later. You will get through the hardest part and learn to live with your loss.

No matter who you are, what you've accomplished, or what you believe, the intensity of your grief will surprise you. . . . when new waves of grief come, I encourage you to remind yourself that your strong grief is a testament to your strong love.

There's a chapter entitled, "Throwing Rocks at God's Windows." I hadn't heard that there's a Jewish proverb on this subject: If God lived on earth, people would break His windows. That made me laugh because I understand the anger, the questions, the disappointment, the pain and how people who believe in God frequently throw those unanswered questions back at him in anger, after loss.

"What did we do to deserve this?"
"When am I ever going to stop reliving those last days?"
"Where was God when I prayed for a miracle?"
"Why did she have to die just now?"
"How am I ever going to go on without him?"
"Who really cares how much I'm still hurting?"

After this opening to the chapter, the author talks about the sense of "profound injustice" (bereavement counselor Robert Zucker's wording) people feel, especially after a particularly cruel or untimely loss. As an example, Lynn Eib describes two friends whose losses were unexpected. One of them, Gigi, lost both parents in a freak car accident and found herself reliving their last moments over and over, again, as they fought to escape from a sinking car but drowned before rescuers arrived. She also talks about a friend whose sister was kidnapped and murdered, some parents who've lost children to suicide, a father whose 3-year-old son was crushed by a heavy window left propped against his neighbor's house and whose neighbor then actually told the father You should thank me for sending your child to Heaven. Unbelievable.

My rating: Huge thumbs up. When God & Grief Meet is wonderful. I hope I don't need it too much, myself, and don't have to recommend it often but it's another book I'm putting on the keeper shelf for future reference. By far one of the most comforting, reassuring, intuitive, lovely grief books I've ever read.

You can read another review, here:

Wendi's Book Corner

Tonight is drawing night. If I'm late posting, this evening, it's because the turnout was so terrific. Please be patient with me! The winner's name should be up by midnight, U.S. Central time.


  1. What a wonderful review! I especially like that you explained the rocks in the window chapter! I've added a link to your review on mine. Please let me know if you want me to remove it.

    :) Wendi
    Wendi's Book Corner

  2. Wendi,

    Thank you! No, I don't mind the link at all, thanks. I'll dash over to read your review, as well. :)

  3. Wow. This sounds like a really powerful book. I'm not sure I'm up to reading it right now but I will definitely add it to my list.


  4. Anonymous12:56 PM

    Oh! This looks really good. I love that throwing rocks at God's windows bit.

  5. Amy,

    I found it light reading but if you read Wendi's review you'll find that is apparently very individual. She found some parts rough to get through. It's worth reading, when you feel like you're ready for it. I thought it was absolutely wonderful.


    That's a grabber, isn't it? I'd never thought of angry questions in that way, but what a great word picture!

  6. I can't tell you how many clients I've seen that would benefit from a book like this. Grief really is a tricky thing and they're never really goes away, we never totally get over everything. But it's learning how to cope with it...I'll have to check this one out!

  7. Chris,

    Exactly. Some people need a lot of guidance when it comes to learning coping mechanisms, don't they? I do think this book is helpful because it's reassuring. What most grieving people really need is to know they're not crazy. What they feel is normal and it really is awful and painful and it's okay to have questions and feel torn apart. Plus, they're absolutely not alone. The hardest part is when you feel totally alone in your grief, I think.

    I have to tell you something I think you'll think is funny because I'm obviously such a nut. When my father died and my mother was diagnosed with cancer two months later, then I got pregnant with my second child, the local mental health facility had a free depression screening and my husband sent me. He said with all I'd been through I probably needed help. So, I went and filled out the form then talked to the psychologist and I love this part . . . He looked at me, looked down at the results, looked up with this big grin and said with a sigh, "You are by far the healthiest person I've seen all week."

    Hahaha! I just love that. I fall back on that, sometimes! LOL

  8. That is indeed a good one to keep in the books Nancy :)

  9. I took a doctoral level course on grief once, at Wheaton college, because I assumed that's where the level of grief in my life earned me a position. It was a great class. One of the things that I remember most clearly is the professor saying how stupid people's comments are. (Not in those words, of course.) He said the best thing to do is LISTEN to them, and that makes perfect sense. Also, he recommended that the griever listen to requiems, because they are masses for funerals basically, and they really let you sit in your grief until you're ready to let it go. Fascinating post, Bookfool.

  10. Bellezza,

    This author made a similar comment about just listening to people being the best thing you can possibly do. And, in fact, that last book I read before diving into the grief book -- Lessons from San Quentin -- told about how the author was sitting in the prison chapel, basically mourning his loss of freedom. And, that was how he met his best friend, a "Lifer". While Bill Dallas sat with tears running down his face, his new friend simply sat beside him. That's it -- just sat with him. Later they spoke, but at the time, it was just the compassionate gesture he needed.

    I understand that comment about feeling you've experienced a doctoral level of grief. I don't know that I'd place myself at that level, but there's a certain level of window-cracking that I'm sure I've leveled at God.

  11. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Thanks so much for your kind and thorough review of my new book, When God & Grief Meet. I appreciate so much your taking time to read it and post such thoughtful comments. Blessings on you and all your book reading!


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