Another Path by Gladys Taber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Gladys Taber was born in 1899, roughly the same year as my great-grandmother. I read her columns toward the end of her career in a magazine my mother received, back when I was a child in the 1970s. I remember her sensible yet sensitive tone, and how she was in step with nature, the seasons, and the quiet of home. In her case, the home was Stillmmeadow, a 1690 farmhouse she shared with her companion Jill; both stayed on after husbands died or divorced and raised their children together.
Another Path is her memoir of going through the aftermath of Jill's sudden death. She describes leaving the hospital in bright sunshine, feeling stunned that life around her carries on, overwhelmed with the paperwork, exhausted after doing even the smallest of tasks. In short, she eloquently wrote of my experience last month after my mother died suddenly-- her experience and mine were so similar that it was an enormous relief to know that I wasn't going crazy; that all the strange reactions were within the normal range of sudden grief.
Her remedies have helped me, too. She advises going outside and spending time in the normalcy and beauty of nature, to appreciate the order, the chaos, and the cyclical nature of the world. She also advises to resist the urge to isolate oneself, and instead to strengthen friendships and form new ones. I've found both of these to be tremendously helpful in easing the pain of loss. It doesn't make the grief go away-- nothing can do that-- but it puts the grief into perspective so that it doesn't take over one's whole being.
This book has been long out of print, but if you can find a copy, it is a touching tribute to her companion as well as a very comforting short read after experiencing a life-changing death. One of my favorite quotes: When you walk a dark path, it is a good thing to know there are footprints on the soggy turf. Someone walked this way before, and you, in turn, leave footprints for another who will soon stumble this very way. At times, someone may be close enough to reach out a hand and say, "There's a bad spot here."
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