The Memoir ‘Once More We Saw Stars’ by Jayson Greene

I listened to Jayson Greene on a podcast a while ago and noted to one day read his memoir, Once More We Saw Stars. With young children, it’s not the type of book I’d usually put on my reading list but there was something in the way he spoke about his experience that made me want to push past my discomfort and read it.

When the story begins, two-year-old Greta Greene is sitting with her grandmother on a park bench in Manhattan when a brick crumbled from a windowsill overhead, striking her. She’s rushed to hospital but dies shortly after, leading Greene and his wife Stacy into the unimaginable.

I found it unbearable at times but also felt a strange sense of commitment – if he could put such honesty and rawness out there, I had an obligation to read it. It’s a story about grief, loss, hope, healing, love, and the fragility of life.

As he tells The Guardian: “Trauma is a rip in your understanding of the universe… The idea that you can prepare for trauma is wrong. You can’t. Trauma is the unforeseen and the terrible. I think people are drawn to stories in which terrible things happen because in some ways they are one of the most proven mechanisms we have in making sense of the world and making sense of our emotions.”

Read a review of Once More We Saw Stars.

Buy it wherever you get good books.

‘Any Ordinary Day’ by Leigh Sales – A Book About Blindsides, Resilience and What Happens After the Worst Day of Your Life

We’ve all heard a tragic news story and subsequently wondered what the chances are it could happen to us, and what our life would then look like. After a personal brush with death, journalist Leigh Sales was driven to find answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event.

Her new book, Any Ordinary Day, explores what happens when ordinary people, on an ordinary day, experience catastrophic events. She speaks with those who’ve faced the unimaginable – from terrorism, to natural disaster, to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time – and in a warm and candid manner, asks questions that most of wonder but would be too afraid to ask.

As someone that’s led a pretty sweet existence so far, with no real trauma or grief to deal with, I’ve often pondered when my run of good luck will be up and how I’d cope if something catastrophic was forced upon me, so I found the research in this book about how the human brain processes fear and grief strangely comforting.

Far from being a depressing read, it’s an honest and beautifully written commentary on humanity and resilience. It’s also a much-needed resource for how to be helpful to others who are dealing with grief or trauma.

Read an extract of Any Ordinary Day

Buy as a book, EBook or audio

Terrible, Thanks for Asking Podcast – Explores Hard Things with Honest Answers

Terrible, Thanks For Asking is raw and intimate podcast that explores hard things people go through that are difficult to talk about and typically shied away from when the topic arises. The host and author of It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too), Nora McInerny Purmort (who is a 30ish widow mother with her own grief), wants to explore what’s really going on when others ask ‘How are you?’ when clearly the answer is not ‘Fine’. She feels there is strength and value in being able to speak honestly about pain so each week she explores something heartbreaking and uncomfortable with her interviewees. There’s crying, laughing and awkwardness but you get the sense that Nora is a genuine comfort to the people she speaks with and that they benefit from being able to tell their stories to an empathetic listener. Listen to the podcast. Buy the book.

Speak, Memory: A Story About Artificial Intelligence and Grief

A thought-provoking story about how a programmer used artificial intelligence (AI) to keep talking to her friend after his death.

Speak, Memory asks whether AI can help to ease grief and ultimately, just because we can, does it mean we should?

Modern life all but ensures that we leave behind vast digital archives — text messages, photos, posts on social media — and we are only beginning to consider what role they should play in mourning. In the moment, we tend to view our text messages as ephemeral. But as Kuyda found after Mazurenko’s death, they can also be powerful tools for coping with loss. Maybe, she thought, this “digital estate” could form the building blocks for a new type of memorial.

It’s similar in concept to the Black Mirror episode Be Right Back’

Read the full article here.

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