It's called being Human
Updated: Oct 26
No Happy Endings - Nora McInerny
I couldn't put this book down - it is one of the best books I have ever read on loss - even if I did have initial misconceptions at first over the title. This book tells it 'as it is' but there is still joy in there too
One of her most heartbreaking dilemmas, and there were many, was the 'guilt' she felt (or was it guilt imposed upon her by others? ) at falling in love so quickly with Matthew when her heart had been shattered into a million pieces with the tragic death of her husband Aaron. To love again and so sonn was a situation she never thought she would be in.
Many widow/widowers feel judged and shamed by others if they find love after loss. McInerny was amazed that she could be in love with both men at the same time; in love with her dear dead husband and in love with Matthew .But she was.
And then I remembered my mum's words "Love is like a piece of elastic - it keeps giving" and that is the most phenomenal thing about being human - we do have this incredible ability to love and to love again - even if at the time it feels incomprehensible.
McInerny's style of writing is like she's in the room with you, it's very accessible - to all. I know many will relate to this 'open door ' in to her life, all her losses, struggles, emotions. This memoir doesn't 'fluff' anything up - it's life with its ups and downs, good news, tragic news, the good times the bad times too.
And that's a good thing. For most of us life is not without sadness, regret, or loss and it's never healthy to cover these experiences up, portraying the world as a Mills & Boon novel where life and romance is conveyed as perfect. Life is never perfect; we appreciate the highs that follow the lows...the laughter that follow the tears.
All through our lives; our school days and beyond we are taught and encouraged to achieve, to gain; school qualifications, sporting certificates, to graduate/gain a college degree, to pass your driving test, to buy your first car, your first home, a career, a family and so on, where life looks to be a string of achievements.. But when are we taught about loss? When are we taught how to cope when we lose someone or something; the death a loved one, the devastation of baby loss, the end of a marriage, loss of health, the loss of a career, our home, the loss of never finding that life-partner, of never having children? Society is extremely proactive on 'achievement' and' gain' but it fails us all on 'Loss' and this needs to change. No wonder so many in our society feel unable to share, to open up about their feelings - instead they pretend, and internalise and keep buried their true emotions. This is such an unhealthy way to live. Not expressing our emotional truth can be hugely detrimental to our mental and physical health too.
Sadly, but realistically, loss is a part of life and we need to be encouraged to talk about it - without shame, without being judged or criticised. I believe lessons on how to cope better with loss should be taught in schools,; primary-secondary-college. How many children do you remember from your school days who suffered a significant loss in their childhood? Perhaps a parent tragically died, or a family hit financially-difficult times, a sibling became very ill with a life-limiting illness, or they had to flee in the night for safety? For some this is a reality and we need the support to be available in order for them to be listened to and to build their emotional resilience. How can they possibly cope without it?
Whilst at the funeral of her cousin who died by suicide, McInerny wrote."Why had I instantly turned into everyone I had wanted to punch at Aaron's funeral? Everyone who had told me it would be okay, or that he was at peace now? Because I was uncomfortable. If we struggle with what to say when someone dies of cancer, we're absolutely dumbstruck when they die of mental illness. I wanted to make my aunt and uncle feel better, so that I could feel better.."
In my eyes McInerny is a breath of fresh air - just like Cathy Rentzenbrink and her book 'The Last Act of Love'. I am concluding this post with a quote and how her words, her sentiments are so true. We frequently say things to try to avoid making someone feel 'sad' or to try and avoid us feeling 'sad'. But these words are not what is really called for.. as she said "I didn't want to be sad, even if that was what the moment called for." Can you remember the last time someone said something similar to you, but your heart was breaking and you felt so unbelievably sad? Comments such as these are not emotionally beneficial to us. We need someone to listen and we need to feel OK with telling them how sad we are. Be a shoulder to lean on. We all need one from time to time. We don't tell our brain "I want to be sad"- it's not intellectual - our heart naturally does it - it's called being human.