I had plans to blog today about a book-to-film article I read that I wanted to share following up on my post from last week. But then, on Monday, I heard the terrible news that my client, Jennifer Perillo’s, husband died suddenly at just 51 leaving behind Jennie and their two daughters, ages 8 and 3. I was so shocked and saddened by this news that it’s really taken over all my thoughts since. And just yesterday I learned that my 79-year-old cousin passed away after a long battle with cancer, so I’m thinking a lot about death and its effects on those left behind.
Many members of the food and blogging community have come together to support Jennie, who is loved by everyone who knows her. I initially met Jennie through another client, Shauna James Ahern of glutenfreegirl.com, who wrote such a beautiful piece about Jennie, her husband, writing, and community, that I felt compelled to share it with you all.
All of this made me wonder about writers and what motivates them during times of sadness. Writers who write personally, through blogging or memoirs, in particular. When something wonderful happens, they generally want to write about it. And when something tragic happens, same. Writers write. It’s what they do, and it’s to our benefit when someone with the uncanny ability to articulate in just the right ways what a painful situation feels like, looks like, and sounds like shares with us those feelings and experiences, and in a way that makes it relatable to the reader. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking comes to mind. It’s about the sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and the simultaneous severe illness of their only daughter. And Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination is another great example. This is also a memoir, about the loss of a pregnancy in its ninth month, a reflective and poignant look at a different, but no less painful, sort of grief.
I wonder if you have any favorite memoirs about loss. I’m not sure I actually want to read them right now given my state of mind, but I do appreciate the comfort that other people’s experiences can have on our own.