Hardcover, 176 pages
Published by Algonquin Books
Publication date: April 1, 1996
This book is of particular value because it realistically shows that grief processes can be long and painful. The shock of an unexpected, senseless, sudden death is particularly hard to take.
The author's yearlong diary, started a month after the death, shows us his groping search for meaning. After the fire he is "dazed, hurt, and afraid" and unsure how to get help. Not active in any organized religion or spiritual practice, the author turns to a wide range of sources to find solace. His extensive reading exposes him to many ideas about life and death from sources as disparate as Shakespeare (the source of the book's title), the Mahabharata, Emily Dickinson, an Ogala Sioux holy man, and others.
He gamely tries everything from support groups to therapy in an attempt to find peace, but nothing works to heal the pain. Physical activity and contact with nature give some relief, but he continues to ruminate on his loss.
The sober realism of the book provides a good contrast to some other grief books which suggest that there is always complete light at the end of the tunnel. The author's state of mind, after over a year of grieving, can best be described as a mature acceptance of what cannot be changed. But there is still a scar on the author's heart, as is often the case after such a death.