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On Loss and Living Onward, by Melissa Dalton-Bradford

By Kellie Purcill

Loss: noun: failure to keep or to continue to have something

: the experience of having something taken from you or destroyed

Grief: noun: deep sadness caused especially by someone’s death

: a cause of deep sadness

: trouble or annoyance

There is no dictionary-wrapped definition which fully conveys or explains loss or grief. For all who have lost, who have mourned, who have been wracked by pain, every ache and stab, every fresh realisation and memory is a unique, isolating event. For those who stand near or beside those who have lost and grieve, there is so much pain to bear witness to, let alone wade through to be with those we love.

We all know the echo of empty words, the stinging reassurances that “[insert fatuous/well-meaning/faithful/condescending/hopeful/comfort-intending phrase here]”. But what is there to say or do when sorrow drags us to the floor, or leaves us standing distant from the mourner, unsure of what would be best?

Melissa Dalton-Bradford’s second and latest book, On Loss and Living Onward, is a balm to the grieving heart, the sodden eyes of – as the subtitle shares – ‘for the grieving and those who would mourn with them’. Melissa begins chapters with experiences from her own journey with loss, following the death of her eldest son Parker. Then there are quotes, excerpts, poems and scriptures in collections: ‘Life at death’, ‘Love at death’, ‘Living after death’, ‘Learning from death’, and ‘Light, love, and life over death’.

Dolorifuge: noun: something that cures or alleviates grief.

On Loss and Living Onward is a gift, born from the ashes of tragedy, shared with wide-open heart, grace, elegance and honesty. I cried repeatedly through its pages, not only from the beauty and comfort I found, but also in remembering those I had lost, the depth of my own grief, and the knotted pain and hope that comes with living onward. On Loss and Living Onward was cathartic, a wash of warmth, a hug of encouragement that those who mourn can survive, can share their pain with others who care they have fallen into an abyss, that others can or will climb out of the chaos with them, or simply sit and love in silence.

I whole-heartedly recommend Melissa Dalton-Bradford’s On Loss and Living Onward for those who are grieved, and for those one bruised heart removed from the trauma and mourning, who want to know how best to catch the broken pieces of their loved ones. On Loss and Living Onward was released yesterday, and is available here.

<iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/94186920" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/94186920">On Loss and Living Onward by Melissa Dalton-Bradford</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user9674194">Michelle Lehnardt</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

About Kellie Purcill

lives way on the other side of the planet in her native Australia and gives thanks for the internet regularly. She loves books, her boys, panna cotta, collecting words, being a redhead and not putting things in order of importance when listing items. She credits writing as a major contributing factor to surviving her life with sanity mostly intact, though her (in)sanity level is subject to change without warning.

6 thoughts on “On Loss and Living Onward, by Melissa Dalton-Bradford”

  1. Since my husband died, people have asked me, "What book helped you most?" Until now, my answer has been immediate: A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. After reading On Loss and Living Onward, I'll name Melissa's book first. Its passages and selections validate the indescribable (and yet well-depicted) depths of how grieving feels and how it alters life–forever.

    I fully recommend On Loss and Living Onward to every mourning soul and to everyone around them who wants to understand how to "be there" for them.

  2. Thank you for this beautiful review, Kel.

    This is the best one line capture of the book that I've read yet:

    "On Loss and Living Onward is a gift, born from the ashes of tragedy, shared with wide-open heart, grace, elegance and honesty."


  3. I do struggle at times knowing how to comfort those who are mourning as I have never experienced severe grief. Thank you for a review of a source that can bring comfort to those in need.


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