cover image Grieving Room: Making Space for All the Hard Things after Death and Loss

Grieving Room: Making Space for All the Hard Things after Death and Loss

Leanne Friesen. Broadleaf, $26.99 (242p) ISBN 978-1-5064-9237-7

Minister Friesen urges mourners in her graceful debut to “give [their] sorrow the space it needs.” After her sister, Roxanne, died in 2013 following a protracted struggle with melanoma, Friesen was wracked by a mix of guilt, fear, and anger. Eventually, she realized that contradictions are a hallmark of grief and should be embraced as part of mourning process (“We aren’t over it and we are moving forward”). She critiques unhelpful approaches toward grief, including insensitive comments like “God only takes the best” and notions that Christians with “enough faith” will be healed while others will continue to struggle (she cites a scriptural passage in which Jesus heals the son of a man who’s battling his own “unbelief” as evidence that those with similarly “flip-floppy faith” are loved by God regardless). Each page simmers with heartache as Friesen recalls unexpected waves of sadness triggered by songs, first holidays without her sister, and thoughts of milestones that will never happen, lending depth to her insights and practical advice (instead of asking a mourner how they’re doing, she suggests: “Tell me what you are missing about your loved one”). This will go a long way toward reassuring those who are grieving. (Feb.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misattributed Friesen as the author of A Modern Medical Miracle.