Monday, 23 February 2015

The Lovely Bones - Living with the Death of a Child

    Do you ever read a book that changes the way you look at the world, or as you read a book you think "Man, that author really gets me, it's like he/ she peeked into my head".   I have had both experiences, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was the latter experience for me.
    The lovely Bones came to my book collection through the Tweed Public Library's semi- annual book sale.  I picked it up more on a whim.  A few years ago Christopher and I had rented the movie, and I would not rank it among my favourites.  I knew that it was a disturbing concept, the story of a girl who had been violently murdered, told by the dead girl.  I'm going to be honest the way it was envisioned for the film, I just didn't get it.  I'm not sure why I picked the book up.
    First let me share that the subject of the book is difficult to read, there are parts that as a mother and as a woman made me shudder.  To me the book wasn't about her gristly murder, it was about how her family dealt with her murder / death and how she dealt with it in "her heaven".  I am pretty sure that Ms. Sebold knows about the loss of a child.  Her words rang true to me.  It was as if she had snuck back into my history 10 years ago and wrote down everything that I was thinking, feeling.
    This was not the most beautifully written book I have ever read, but it really struck me, burrowed into my consciousness.  It was honest.  It brought so many things back for me, and not in a terrible way.  Alice Sebold spoke about the town members giving the family "that look".  I remember "that look".  I remember my community rallied around our family to give us meals, give us their love, but then a few weeks later many felt uncomfortable.  Many times people I knew saw me and walked across the street pretending they had not seen me.  I'm not sure if they thought that losing a child was contagious, or that I would see them and begin to scream in despair.  The truth was I became a bit of a recluse after we lost Gabe.  I did not want to look at little boys his age and feel that terrible feeling of "why do they get to live, but my child didn't".  I did not want to deal with the ghoulish people who would stop me and ask "Aren't you that woman who lost her child?"  They would then begin to ask awful questions about our accident.
    The Lovely Bones gave me a feeling of being seen.  That sounds like a crazy thing to say of a work of fiction, and particularly of a book.  The thing is, losing a child is a club that no one wants to be a part of.  Many of us locally have connected to give comfort and support to each other, but even so you still feel alone.  Parents who have never shared our horrific pain or loss may think they have an idea what we live with, but they don't.  This book, put my thoughts and feelings into words.  It spoke of my grief of my healing.  It suggested a heaven that I had never thought of, but was alright with.  When I say that the book made me feel "seen", what I mean by this is, is that it's words mirrored my experience, allowing me to remember that I am not alone (even after 10 years).


  1. I believe one of our fundamental need's as humans is to know we are not alone in our experiences. I am glad you have found support through such a difficult journey.

  2. I purchased this book on a tip from a friend that this was going to be a must summer read. It surely didn't disappoint. I could not put it down. I couldn't wait to turn the page to see what happened next. It really gave an interesting perceptive on what haven would be like. Also, that the people we leave behind are never really alone because, our spirit is always there to guide them.