Grief, Healing, and a Rare Bird: A Review of Anna Whiston-Donaldson's New Memoir

Rare Bird. A memoir of loss and love
Every once and a while you meet someone (or in the case of blogging - come across someone) with whom you feel an instant connection. About three years ago while I was still reeling from the loss of my son from cancer, I began seeing other bloggers posting a blog button for An Inch of Gray and saying, "Let's lift her up." Of course being curious, I clicked over.

Author Anna Whiston-Donaldson
Anna was a mom who started out writing a blog about crafts and DIY projects; but after one fateful afternoon, her blog became about grief. It was a rainy September afternoon - much like it is today where I live. The rain came softly at first, so she allowed her squirrely kids out to play. But then the rain came harder and swelled the creek bed in their neighborhood, and only one child returned.

Her beautiful, precocious, gentle-hearted son, Jack, was gone.

I got chills typing that. And I get chills every time I read Anna's blog. She writes so eloquently and with such grace (that's what we say about moms who have lost children - they have such grace). It seemed to me that she was still able to love God despite having suffered this horrible circumstance. And I didn't understand that because my own relationship with God was shattered after losing Joey. She drew strength from one of Jack's very favorite Bible verses:

And so she set about writing a book about that: the healing process. I fell in love with Anna and her words and offered to help her promote her book. But, I must admit, when it was in my hands I was afraid to open it. My own wounds were still so raw. But she does not write about Jack's accident. You can read about that here.

What she does write about is the after. The funeral, picking out something to memorialize Jack, the lingering feelings of doubt, sadness, resentment, and shame. Yes, shame.

Rare Bird is a story about Anna's healing process; and since it's a process, it is still on-going. I was drawn so much to her words as I have felt the same feelings she has felt. Seeing grieving from her perspective helps me as I work through my own grief. 

This isn't just a book for those who have lost a child or lost someone they love. Life hands us many things that we feel are unfair and cruel. Anna shows us that it is okay to question, to doubt, and to feel anger and shame. This book is a journey through one of life's toughest lessons, and Anna is our guide.

The book has already been praised by The Washington Post and Publishers Weekly. See Anna tell about the book in her own words:

Rare Bird isn't just a book about grief and healing. It's a book about human-ness and hope, vulnerability and trust. Anna's sweetness, faith, strength, and resolve clearly resound on every page. I cannot recommend this book enough. Even if I hadn't hugged Anna in person at BlogU, I would still tell you to read it.

Jessica of Four Plus An Angel, Courtney of Our Small Moments,
Me, and Anna - still smiling despite our collective grief.
Visit Anna's author page, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Get her book here. You will be so glad you did.

*I begged Anna for a copy of the book to review, which she graciously sent me. A big thank you to Julianna of Rants From Mommyland for the beautiful graphics. Stay tuned for my end of the month wrap-up (Around the Pond with the Frog) when I give away Anna's book, plus the other books I'm reviewing this month.

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