I don’t often post any book reviews. But one just released by a friend of mine caused me to make an exception. It’s a fast read, but don’t be surprised to find yourself going back and re-reading parts that touched you at the core of your personal experience.

The Cycle of Grief, by Betty Gurak, is one of the most moving, personal approaches to handling the loss of a loved one that I’ve ever read. It’s not long. It doesn’t get mired in psychological concepts or formal studies. Its a documentary of one woman’s experience of the shock of the sudden loss of her husband and the journey she traveled as she made her way through the darkest days, months and years to where she finds herself now.

Betty's Grief Book

Betty takes us on a multi-year journey, from the initial shock and disbelief through the stages as she experienced them, told in a combination of narrative and poetry and illustrated beautifully by her grandson-in-law.  “It was a tree so full of life when sorrow came to play. A barren tree took its place, its leaves had blown away.”

“Tom never made it back to our home. At the fourth hole, the Lord decided to call him to His home instead. It was then that the brick wall made its appearance.”

Betty describes the darkness that descended. ” The cries became louder, the pain deeper.” She believed her heart would never heal.

She talks of the things that helped her through that time. “Writing for me was like listening to music–soothing.”

And the times she closed herself away. “There were days I would sit on Tom’s recliner and wrap an imaginary cocoon around me; a place where nothing could hurt me again.”

On the rare occasions when something caused her to laugh, she felt guilty. “I put my hand to my mouth in hopes no one would know the laughter came from me…. How dare I laugh like that…. I didn’t know how I was expected to act.”

Months later she noticed the wall was beginning to crumble–just a bit…the darkness was showing signs of hope….

“In time I began to see another change in the brick wall…. It was starting to lose its hold on me as it continued to crumble… Brightness began to filter through the holes…. The hope continued.”

“I am seeing that, just as the tree goes through its cycle of life, so must I go through the cycle of grief.”

“…happiness will return, but you have to be willing to let it in. Get involved with something that makes you happy. Find something you like, and maybe you can share it with others.”

Betty found solace in her writing, and chose to let the readers know they are not alone.

Anyone who has gone or is going through their own cycle of grief will find Betty’s story will help you through your own journey.

“I still think of you every day, but now it puts a smile on my face.”

Betty's Husband

Find Betty’s book on Amazon at:


About Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse

I, like so many others, am a novelist struggling for recognition. My last three novels, THE EYES HAVE IT, IN HER MOTHER'S SHOES and STAR CATCHING, are available in e-book format through Amazon and other formats by request here or on my website. AUTUMN COLORS was my first novel and is still available through Amazon and B&N in multiple formats. My early writings are women's fiction, one also suitable for YA. My work-in-progress is a historical fiction about the Armenians who settled in Troy, NY in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Come visit me at my website: www.dawnlajeunesse.com.
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