If you have never experienced the grief of losing a loved one, consider yourself lucky. Death is a certainty. We all die eventually, but processing the death of those you love is difficult. It’s an overwhelming and all-encompassing experience that weighs you down. It truly feels like you are drowning, and there is no chance you’ll ever breathe again. Notes on Grief isn’t the easiest read, but it’s not a long hard read either. Next time, we’ll pick a happier book for our book club, I promise.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie captures this overwhelming experience as she explores her grief after her father’s death. What I loved about Notes on Grief isn’t how Adichie takes about the immense impact of loss on herself and her family, which I will get to later. No, it’s how, despite this loss, she still finds ways to showcase how loved her father was. Adichie had every right to write a book filled with anger over losing someone during a global shutdown. Isolation was not easy, and so many experienced the death of loved ones during COVID. Instead, Adichie used this chance to write what feels like a beautiful eulogy to her father. You can feel the love on every page. Yes, this book is sad, but she didn’t let the sadness completely consume her. She chose to celebrate his life in these few pages.
The Lesson I Learned
Grief over the death of a loved one never truly ever leaves us. When life goes back to normal, the pain of missing your person will always be there, but you learn to carry that weight with you. It becomes easier with time. Maybe it’s because, after a while, you can’t picture your loved one’s face anymore. You forget what they smelled like or the sound of their laughter. Guilt creeps in as you forget the small things, but Adichie takes the time to sit down and write about her father. You can tell that this wasn’t an easy book for her to write, but her father has now been memorialized in these pages. She shared the love of her father to the world, and he can never be forgotten.
I might not have the same reach and influence as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in publishing stories, but that won’t stop me from memorializing key moments of those I’ve loved. Grief can freeze you and leave you hopeless. But, grief is only a manifestation of how much you loved someone. And if you aren’t a writer, memorialize your loved ones in any way you want. I’ve noticed that when you take the time to remember the small details, it helps lighten the pain. Death sucks. Never seeing a loved one again sucks, but remembering the good time you had with them helps.
I keep a baseball on my desk for the hard days. I know how to throw a slider, a knuckleball, a changeup, and a four seam fastball. My grandfather showed me all the grips and how to flick my wrist when I could barely fit the ball into my hand. It is one of my most treasured memories and helps me get through the long, frustrating, hard days.
I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t some grand fantasy adventure where a humble farmer’s kid becomes the hero and saves the world. It was real. It was filled with raw emotions about a wound that is still fresh in a lot of people’s lives. COVID was hard, but Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie felt cathartic. Finally, someone articulated grief into a powerful but small book. Do I think everyone should read this book? No, but if you are looking for something to help you understand grief more, or to not feel so alone in the sadness of losing a loved one, then I can’t recommend this book more.
5 out of 5 Stars