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Excerpts from the Ether: Diving into the Wreck

Something that has always stood out to me about grief is how lonely it is. When you’re going through the loss of a loved one, it can be a very isolating experience. No one around you quite understands what you’re feeling. My main intention behind writing and publishing The Rules of Inheritance was to put my experience out into the world so that others would feel a little less alone in their own journeys. Over the last couple of months since the book was published, I’ve received some incredible letters from readers and I’m so humbled to share some of them here.

In this particular letter the writer reminds me of one of the universal traits I so often come across with grief, and it’s that, as grievers, we are so hard on ourselves. We put so much pressure on ourselves to get through it, get over it, get away from it, when really, the only way through it is to really sit with it, to steep ourselves in our grief. We must acknowledge how difficult it is to lose someone we love, and we must forgive ourselves our confusion and despair. Those qualities are simply a reflection of how much love we have for the person who is gone.

February 26, 2012

Dear Claire,
I just finished your book.
I started last night – my little (8 year old, not so little) baby girl asleep next to me… my husband out with a friend. Read until 12p – taking in each word, thought, feeling (so many)… tears streaming my face. . .Finished this eve - my daughter tucked sweetly in bed.. sleeping husband next to me.  Heavy heart, light heart. over and over.
Almost 3 years ago, I watched as my dearest, sweetest, best friend cousin died three months into being diagnosed with colon cancer.. her beautiful daughter and mine born just a few weeks of each other, 4 years earlier………Six weeks later, her brother – my soul mate, so heavy in life pain and loss – committed suicide in a dark, lonely hotel room.
And I was so sure that part of me went with them….
Thank you for your words – they were so painful -  & comforting. I am sure you are and will be bombarded…. but i just needed to say thank you……. for reminding me that it’s okay to still be sometimes crippled with how much I miss them.
And then to hold my sweet daughter and sleeping husband – and be reminded that I am alive.
Peace, strength, light and love,
Norway, Maine


  1. Yes, I think we write to connect. We really long for authentic community and words that so place the colors, shapes, odors, feelings of grief, or any other emotion for that matter, and we find homes in each other’s hearts. I am heavily influenced by Etty Hillseum, an Interrupted Life, Richard Wright’s Black Boy and a plethora of others. Nice post; hope you are feeling good!

    Comment by Esther Bradley-DeTally on April 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm

  2. Thank you, Esther. I’m looking forward to checking out these writers!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 30, 2012 at 9:33 am

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