“It’s Ok that You’re Not Ok” by Megan Devine

book cover

Subtitle: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand

Recommended to me by: Robyn Posin

The way our culture deals with grief is vastly broken. We treat it as a problem to be solved rather than as an experience to be carried. We shame grieving people for not doing the process “right” (what does that even mean) rather than listening to and accompanying them. We spout platitudes like, “It’s all for the best,” to separate ourselves from the reality of loss.

Megan Devine shares about her own catastrophic grief at the accidental death of her husband at age 40, and offers support for others going through grief.

Pain is a healthy, normal response when someone you love is torn from your life. It hurts, but that doesn’t make pain wrong.

Suffering comes when we feel dismissed or unsupported in our pain, and when we thrash around inside our pain, questioning our choices, our “normalcy,” our actions and reactions.

She advises experimenting to see what helps even a tiny bit in the depths of grief. What lets you feel companioned in your pain. What lessens the suffering. What supports wellness and avoids “worseness.” What are your internal signals of overwhelm, and what to do about it.

She addresses how (and why) to stay alive, physical and mental effects of grief, how to manage anxiety, and why to make some kind of art to express your grief. Advice to supporters is: listen. Don’t try to fix, minimize, or put the focus on yourself. Listen.

The last section of the book addresses how to handle would-be supporters’ missteps, and how to help them be more helpful.

The word trauma is only mentioned once in the book, even though it focuses on traumatic sudden losses. I wonder how much the combination of trauma and grief can be eased with trauma healing techniques.

Highly recommended to anyone who has been knocked down by grief, or had a friend knocked down by grief. (That’s just about everyone.)

Megan Devine blogs and runs online Writing Your Grief support groups at her website, Refuge in Grief.

Available at Powell’s Books.

3 comments to “It’s Ok that You’re Not Ok” by Megan Devine

  • […] Devine’s book It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok is a compassionate and thorough exploration of catastrophic grief, including suggestions for […]

  • Teresa Ford

    Will “It’s OK you’re not OK” help a child with the sudden death of his daddy. He’s 10 yrs old now but lost his dad 3yrs ago to a tragic accident at work. He seems to be trying to deal with it, and I think sometimes he wants to talk but he doesn’t know how or what to say. He lives with his parental grandmother now due to some changes in family situations, and he can’t talk to her because she still hasn’t accepted this yet, but I don’t feel like you ever really accept the sudden death of someone you love deeply. I try to tell him I’m trying to understand, because I lost my daddy suddenly when I was 13 yrs old, and he will talk to me for a few minutes, but he needs more than what I can give him. I hate to complain, but he did go to a counselor for some outburst problems, but that didn’t help at all. He talks to me more than anybody else, and I’m the one who has less contact with him. Can this book help him or is it written to old for him to understand and work with??

    • So sorry to hear of the child’s loss. This book isn’t written for children, but it might give you some good ideas on how to talk with him. You might show him Megan Devine’s website refugeingrief.com and discuss some of the blog posts together. He might also like “Tear Soup,” which is in a picture book format. You could talk about that together too. Best wishes to you both!

      PS: Maybe give this book to his grandmother?

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