Kate Inglis is a Canadian author - not that that really matters, except for the fact that somehow, because we live in the same country, I feel more akin to her. Although, having said that, the more probable reason I feel this way is that she has written a deeply personal book about grief, that resonated with my heart.
I don’t think my little book review will do it as much justice as some of the reviews on her website or on Amazon, but I will share what I really liked about it.
This memoir is about Kate’s experience when her twin boys were born prematurely. One survived, one did not. Notes for the Everlost is a poetic, raw, and moving account of the trauma and grief of her heart wrenching loss.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book is Kate’s writing style. She uses creative images, metaphors and explanations to capture aspects of grief that are exceedingly difficult to express with words. She weaves the harsh reality of loss through a layer of lyrical and melodic expression; not in a way that dampens the raw feelings of grief, but in a way that makes it even more powerful. Her words appease the rational and intellectual mind while speaking directly to the abstract and transcendent heart. And, it works. Grief, afterall, is an experience of the heart.
This memoir is immensely honest about the depth of pain in grief. Reading it brought back memories of my own grief - and it invoked fear within me. Fear of “it” happening again. Fear of feeling the shock and impossibility of loss again. This, though, was buffered by an undercurrent of hope that ran through the text. Kate has masterfully crafted the book in this way - somehow capturing wholeness in brokenness. As I was reading, I knew that if (no, when) it happens again, I will survive it and cope.
Some other aspects of the book that I found really helpful were:
The trauma of the healthcare settings: Kate captures the chasm of life saving - in the cold, clinical silos of healthcare - with life ending, and the resultant grief and trauma. I think this is an aspect of healthcare that goes largely unnoticed but is a HUGE dimension of grief - the effects of complicated, complex and emotional medical decisions that people deal with long after they leave the hospital.
The misconceptions of grief: Kate dispels the misconceptions of grief the run rampant in our society. She understands how our society mis-handles grief and she writes about her experience in navigating this.
She gives practical strategies for dealing with jerks. Perhaps they are well meaning jerks, but, under the pressure of grief, this practical advice is invaluable.
She includes the spiritual wrestling and rumbling. The mysterious. The unseen. Loved that.
And, lastly, the book ends with a number of pages where Kate writes her reflections year after year. Whereas many grief books only tackle the first year, Kate writes about how her grief was:
each year for 10 years! I’ve always struggled with how to understand and explain how “healing grief” feels after so long...and she captures the spiral* of it perfectly.
In summary, if you love reading, poetic and detailed images, and memoirs about grief, I'd recommend this book. I think people who have suffered the death of a baby would find it especially resonate, due to the commonality of experience. Having said that though, I thoroughly enjoyed it even though I don't fit that description - I think there is enough universality in the specifics of Kate's story that many people would connect with.
Buy Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief here:
Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.
*Spiral: A quote by Ashley Davis Bush from the book: Hope and Healing for Transcending Loss
“Grief is like a spiral. You feel like you are going around in circles and coming back to the same material. But in fact, your grief is always in motion. This means that you come back to what seems like old feelings at a slightly different place on the path. You are changing, integrating, grieving, moving deeper, moving higher, always along the turns of this grief spiral. Be patient with yourself in the process.”