Finding Peace After a Breakup, Divorce, or Death
Review posted January 29, 2015.
Hay House, Carlsbad, California, 2014. 182 pages.
I picked up this book because I like Louise Hay’s work, and of course can always use more healing after my divorce. I also recently broke up with a boyfriend for the first time in my life. We’d only been dating two months, but still, this was new to me.
David Kessler I hadn’t heard of before, but he is an expert on grief and loss, so he brings solid credentials to the book. I think of Louise Hay as New Age-y. She focuses mainly on the power of affirmations, which I have some skepticism about. However, they take a solid look at your self-talk after loss and help you reframe your thinking and choose to see the positive. And Christians will find nothing to fault here. They may want to substitute “God” where Louise Hay uses “the Universe,” but everything else I think they can agree with.
In the Introduction, the authors explain how they’re trying to help:
A broken heart is also an open heart. Whatever the circumstances, when you love someone and your time together ends, you will naturally feel pain. The pain of losing a person you love is part of life, part of this journey, but suffering doesn’t have to be. Although it’s natural to forget your power after you lose a loved one, the truth is that after a breakup, divorce, or death, there remains an ability within you to create a new reality.
Let’s be clear here: We’re asking you to change your thinking after a loss occurs – not to avoid the pain of grief, but to keep moving through it. We want your thoughts to live in a place where you remember your loved one only with love, not with sadness or regret. Even after the worst breakup, the meanest divorce, and the most tragic death, it is possible to achieve this over time. That doesn’t mean that you deny or run away from the pain. Instead, you let yourself experience it and then allow a new life to unfold – one where you hold the love dear, not the sorrow.
The three main areas they focus on are helping you feel your feelings, allowing old wounds to come up for healing, and changing distorted thinking about relationships, love, and life.
Here’s a paragraph from the chapter that most interested me, on divorce:
Grief is a time of mourning all that has been lost – the dreams that have been shattered, and the loss of hope for the marriage you thought you were going to always have. However, when you can arrive at sweet acceptance that what has happened did actually happen, you will find that grief is also a time of renewal, rebuilding and reforming. You now have the opportunity to create yourself anew. Who will you be after the divorce? Don’t just leave a void for others and your past to fill and define you. Choose who you want to be. This is a new chapter, and you have the opportunity to start again. If you’re thinking, It’s too late for me to start again, just know that that is only a thought – and one that isn’t true. If you’re still residing on the planet, it’s never too late for you to start over.
I did like that, after the chapters on break-ups, divorce, and death, there was a chapter on the death of a pet, and then a chapter on other losses, such as job loss or miscarriages. Here’s a paragraph from the chapter “Honoring Pet Loss”:
The reality is that grief from pet loss is not as easily fixed as some would have us believe. It’s hard to live in grief that’s judged as unworthy. Grief is about love, and our animal companions often show us some of the most unconditional love we could ever experience. How often, despite our best efforts, do we absorb some of society’s judgments and think, I shouldn’t be grieving this much? Yet when we let these thoughts in, we betray our genuine feelings.
This is a gentle, hopeful and encouraging book which reminds you that a broken heart is also an open heart.
Let your thinking manifest hope to your sorrow. Choose your thoughts wisely. Be kind to yourself, and reflect on the loss with love. If you’re grieving the death of a loved one, remember how you loved them when they were present; know that you can continue loving them in their absence. You can go from grief to peace.