There is one odd moment that I am sure happened, but could use more explanation. She states that when speaking to his parents, she had the sense that “one day I will be all right again.” I would have liked to know more about this — how she knew this at that moment. Most likely it was her life force rising to say, “you are not the one who is dying.” As far as the book goes, the phrase seemed to come at an awkward moment, and to take a little of the creative tension out of it. But as this book has just entered its second printing, any such criticism is probably moot. Many people have clearly found A Widow’s Awakening to be a source of support and help to them. The sometimes jokey tone of the book, occasionally a little jarring to someone who is mostly a reader, not a mourner (at the moment), apparently doesn’t detract from this support. In fact, it probably helps.
When John had died, Maryanne went home, to sorrow, confusion, anger, and fear, and that persistent sense many have known, that John was both present and absent. Her brother came to stay with her and look after her. Thoughts spun through her mind. Reading her account of the first night — the first several — I thought it remarkable that she was able to sleep at all without some kind of strong sedation.
It was a pleasure to read that this Canadian family and circle of friends had the sense and unity to make sure that someone was with their sister and daughter, and friend, each night, for quite a long time, till she finally was able to manage on her own. For an American, I am afraid this can be a surprise. Though many families would do this, it may not be something every family, with our busy, business-focused lives, would necessarily feel able to offer for more than a night or two. It becomes clear that her circle of relatives and friends were concerned about her sanity, for good reason.
Very soon, Maryanne found herself thinking all sorts of bizarre thoughts, such as the sudden idea that she was the Second Coming of Christ. She saw signs and portents everywhere and kept thinking she would probably be dead (though not a suicide) in seven months. She had all sorts of thoughts that clearly alarmed some of those to whom she expressed them. Many different ideas do present themselves to the newly bereaved. It is a kind of thinking in some ways outside of space and time, for we try to follow the lost loved one as far as we can.