Don’t be put off by the title of this book. I won’t deny the base of the story is sad but it is also about strength, friendships and learning to find yourself again.
My Mourning Year by Andrew G. Marshall is an unflinching account of one man’s loss. Andrew lost his partner Thom, his best friend and the one man he could be himself around, back in 1997 to a devastating illness. Andrew kept a diary over the following year of his struggle to survive and find the meaning of life again. On the 20th anniversary of Thom’s death, Andrew decided to release his diary to the public after it helped the many friends who had read it.
Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go: this is not a self-help book, at least not in the traditional sense. So, if you dislike the kind of books that tell you what to do with an underlying attitude of smugness, you will be relieved to find none of that superiority here. However, while Andrew may not offer direct, in-your-face advice, there is no doubt that, as was the case with others, his story will help people in a similar situation.
Andrew’s diary entries are very real and very raw. This story is not like the movies; it is real life. I was in no doubt about how much Andrew loved Thom and how seeing Thom suffer was taking a terrible toll. However, unlike these Hollywood ideals, not everybody can 100% dedicate themselves to caring for a dying person, waiting on them constantly and doing not much else with their own life. Andrew is very open about his selfish moments, how he wants to spend every last minute with Thom but finds it hard to forget his own needs. Andrew still needs to work in order to pay the bills. His life cannot stop. This is what I loved about My Mourning Year. I can imagine there are many people having the same conflicted thoughts who are overwhelmed with guilt and are struggling to understand their feelings. By putting his own unedited story out there, Andrew is telling these people they are not alone. Feeling understood is something important and in this indirect way, Andrew’s story helps as much as any self-help book.
I can’t deny that this book is a heart-wrenching read. Therefore, I almost feel bad saying I enjoyed reading about Andrew’s struggle but I did. The diary format made it a snappy read and I always found myself always reading one more chapter. Additionally, the prose of this book was beautiful. Andrew has been a professional writer for years and is also a trained counsellor so you could say he knew what he was doing but My Mourning Year has the deep emotion one can only get from writing from the heart. There were also some light-hearted moments to enjoy, especially those concerning Tyson the dog. In fact, Tyson helped Andrew so much he decided to get his own puppy, Flash. This is another period of his life he wrote about in The Power of Dog, which I will be reviewing in an upcoming post.
I really can’t do this book justice in this review. You really need to pick up a copy yourself in order to truly understand the emotional depth and level of hope My Mourning Year brings. When you read it, come back here and let’s have a discussion in the comments about what the book did for you.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.