Not the Book You Want to Read

Grief Exposed might not be the book you want to read.  And that’s okay.  There have been many days when it wasn’t the book I wanted to write—much less publish. I still tremble at the thought of someone reading it.

It’s a book about grief and loss and the brokenness that ensued after the death of my son, but not much more.  If you’re looking for a book that tells you how to fix everything—a book with an exact equation for reaching a happy, tied-in-a-bow solution to a painful loss in your life—then Grief Exposed is not the book you’re looking for.

As I wrote, my intention was never to define grief or explain loss. My only intention was to bleed my pain onto the pages of my journals.  Grief Exposed is more like a depiction than a definition. It’s less about telling you about grief and more about showing you grief—my grief.  I would have rather told you.  That would have been less intimate and less vulnerable for me.  And less grueling for both of us. But unfortunately, that wouldn’t have been as honest and maybe not as helpful. And I do hope the honesty of my words will be helpful.

While I’m being honest, I’ll give you another warning. I’m not the hero of this story. At times I fear I’m the anti-hero. I play the role of my own worst enemy. I shoot myself in the foot and sabotage my progress. Just when you think I’ve made some headway, I’ll trip over my own two feet and fall back.

Those infamous journals, from which my book was written, don’t paint me in a good light. Certainly not the glowing light of a hero. Had I known anyone was going to read my story and see my life, I suspect I would have (for the sake of self-preservation) at least pretended to have done better.

Grief Exposed not only exposes grief, it exposes me. It reveals a side of me I’d have rather kept hidden. A side of me few have ever seen.

So why, you ask, did I suffer myself such an exposition? Why didn’t I rewrite the whole thing or edit out all the humiliating stuff? Good questions. Now that the book is “out there,” I ask myself those questions every day. Had I done a major re-write, none of you would ever know the depths to which I fell. You wouldn’t have to cringe in disbelief as I reveal my petrifying fear, my unbridled anger, my sense of abandonment, or my attempt to turn my back on God. You wouldn’t have to ask yourself how I could have behaved so completely out of character for a man of such long-time faith and deep devotion.

I thought about changing it—about re-writing it. I thought about choosing the best excerpts from my journals, putting those in the book (with all the doubts and anguish intact), but then adding new text to explain how I resolved all the confusion or how God redeemed all the pain. You’d be able to see how bad I got, but you’d also be able to believe I got better. Every grief would be turned into gratitude. Every brokenness would become a blessing. Every pain would be healed. Every tear would be dried. Every wrong would be made right.

But nothing would be true. And at this stage of life, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is all I’m interested in.

I decided to risk my pride and good standing in exchange for integrity and honesty. I guess I’ll have to wait and see if it paid off.

There is a redemptive arc to the book if you read it all the way through. There is a blessedness and a kind of healing that eventually shines through. Some things do get resolved. But you’ll need to keep your eyes open and you’ll need to be patient. You’ll have to stumble through a lot of darkness before you get to the light.

Something drew me in—to wrestle and write and record my feelings every day for nearly ten years. It drew me in like a powerful magnet that I couldn’t deny or resist.  If something draws you in, even after all my warnings, then perhaps Grief Exposed is the book you want to read.

Let me know how it goes for you.

And God bless you…

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