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H is for Hawk
Winner of BookBrowse's 2015 Nonfiction Award.
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How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

Created: 04/03/16

Replies: 13

Posted Apr. 03, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 164

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How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?


Posted Apr. 03, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lorettaf

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 25

RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

Compared to my grief, I thought her grief to be excessive. Granted she was very close to her father, and his death was sudden. Maybe if she had been able to prepare for his death, her loss would have been easier to bear. In my case, I lost a beloved grandfather who was like a father to me. But since he was sick and very old, unlike Helen, I had time to think about his upcoming death. However, I do think that people react to loss in highly individual ways, and I respect those differences.


Posted Apr. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 56

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RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

I agree that it is important to respect individual differences. My own father had died not long before I read this book and outwardly my grieving process had nothing in common with Helen's. But as as the book went on I did find a lot of her internal processing resonated with me. And that she was able to express her feelings and emotions really beautifully.


Posted Apr. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
BarbMJ

Join Date: 10/10/14

Posts: 11

RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

I too found the grief to be excessive. I've experienced sudden loss of a parent and did not come close to the level Helen expresses. I realize that everyone is different but this grief was destroying Helen's life. I didn't think her father would have appreciated that reaction to his death. I also kept wondering how her mother and brother were dealing with the loss. Some indication of that might have put Helen's grief into perspective for me.


Posted Apr. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
normar

Join Date: 05/15/11

Posts: 21

RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

Helen is not able to find comfort in family or friends. Sh is very isolated. I found comfort when my parents died by sharing with others who had a similar experience. I think this made her loss more painy


Posted Apr. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanp

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 91

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RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

When I lost my father I didn't have the luxury of grieving. I had a family and a job that I had to take care of. My grieving was private and I put it aside each morning as I tended to business. I found her handling of her grief rather self indulgent until it became apparent that she had depression. I lost my husband when he was relatively young and once again I had to get on with my life as I was caring for my elderly mother. Maybe my having to deal with everyday life was a blessing.


Posted Apr. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susann

Join Date: 04/28/11

Posts: 13

RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

I don't think her grieving was excessive, but her response was so focused and single-minded: absorb the grief by training the hawk. When I have had major losses, I was not able to channel it into a single activity, but basically dealt with it by allowing myself to be sad when I needed to be, and the rest of the time trying to adapt to the "new normal".


Posted Apr. 05, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 164

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RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

I posed this question because like many of you, I felt her grief as an adult for a parent to be unusual -- and I lost my mother, then my husband and my father, in the space of four years, when I was perhaps just a bit older than Helen. (And then a second husband, ten years later.) It was the cumulative loss, and in particular my husband's death, that caused my depression, but I did not have the luxury of giving in to it. I had children, and for them at least, I needed to work, and for a time I also had my father with Alzheimer's to look after. I had no family to lean on, but I did have the support of friends, as it seems Helen did too. Looking back, I can see that perhaps as stressful as life was then, having to work and be responsible for children was a blessing, as JoanP said.

What did resonate with me was her need to do something that helped her feel closer to her father, as hawking did since they had shared expeditions together, and since he had supported her in her childhood passion for hawking. I found myself taking up small habits that brought me closer to my late husband (listening to his favorite radio station instead of mine, when in the car, for example). I also agreed with her dismissal of the "stages" of grieving. My feelings were all over the map, there is no single universal process or time frame.

I suspect Helen was dealing with other issues than grief, which compounded the grief, which she only hints at in the memoir (career, moving, love life). But I'm glad that she shared her experience of working through all that, and I'm glad that she found a new balance and appreciation for her human connections.


Posted Apr. 06, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 56

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RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

JLPen77, I'm glad you put this question up and appreciate you sharing your experience so generously You have been through a great deal. I think I have learned from reading the book and hearing of others' experiences, as well as losing my own Dad, that grief is a highly personalised experience, even though we all inevitably share it. Like having children, no one can tell you what it is like until you experience it, even though there is obviously much shared experience too.
I feel glad to have read this book and think I like it more as I think about it afterwards, if that makes sense.


Posted Apr. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 164

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RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

KateB, Thanks for your kind words. And yes, it makes perfect sense to me that you, or any reader might like a book better after thinking about it afterwards. I felt that way too with this book. Discussing a book adds value to me for that reason: putting thoughts into words, and hearing or reading others' thoughts, brings more clarity and appreciation.


Posted Apr. 12, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
judyb

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 23

RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

While the whole idea of hawking was alien and sometimes shocking to me, the hawking process Helen goes through to deal with her grief resonated with me. I too lost my father suddenly from a heart attack that killed him in his sleep when he was only 60. I reacted by withdrawing emotionally from everyone, even husband and child, and lived the pain alone by keeping it inside while I went through the motions of everyday life. I too became only a watcher remote from real life. I felt that my grief was extreme but could not escape it. My mantra, the thing that kept me from going over the edge, was: 'This is just the price I have to pay for having had him as my father and for loving him.' I would not have given that up to avoid this grief of losing him. About 9 months after his death (the time it takes to give birth!), I had a dream that my dad and I met. He smiled and gave me a hug. He was glad to see me and I was so happy and relieved to see him. The dream was so vivid and real that I could smell the starch and feel the crispness of his clean white shirt. In the dream I begged to go with him but he disappeared immediately and I was inconsolable. Other people, real in my life, came into the dream to say, "Get up. Get up. You have a life to live and work to do." I woke up with tears streaming down my face. I think the dream gave me permission to say goodbye, something I wasn't able to do after he died and something I could not bring myself to do when I was awake and conscious. After that, my grief became more manageable and I was able to move on and reconnect with the people I loved. So, extreme grief? Maybe. But grief is what it uniquely is for each person, and each person has to find a way to survive it. Helen's story of her survival was mesmerizing.


Judy
Posted Apr. 12, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pattys

Join Date: 09/17/11

Posts: 9

RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

Helen's experience of grieving was very different than my own. I hesitate to compare us because it is such a personal thing. I have lost many people close to me and I have reacted differently each time. When my own father died suddenly, the only thing I knew to do was to go back to work right away. I was sad, but didn't really show it. Other deaths have changed my life. I can understand Helen's desire to take on the hawking and I'm sure she had no idea the effect it would have on her life. I didn't get the impression that she had ever had bouts of depression before it came on while working with Mabel. I hope things are going well for her now.


Posted Apr. 13, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marganna

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 111

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RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

Each grief & loss & the processing of it is totally an individual experience. I've had major losses & I've watched friends deal with major losses. Each was handled totally differently. I wouldn't call anyone's response to grief as "excessive". When my 27 yr old husband died suddenly in a boating accident & I had a business to run & a 7 month old son, I managed my grief in what some might call an "extremely excessive" manner which was destructive to me & to others. However, I managed to live & return to rebuilding my life within some months. My next major loss threw me back into an emotional unbalance but this time I had professional help. I wish I had had a hawk & a White to bring me back to the world of visibility sooner & with less pain; there are others who think that would have been a good idea, too.


Posted Apr. 30, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Windsong

Join Date: 05/07/13

Posts: 70

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RE: How does Helen's experience of grieving compare to your own experience after a major loss?

I wish I read this book before my sister died of pancreatic cancer because I think it would have inspired me to immerse myself in a project that allowed me to work through my grief. Instead I became immersed in helping others and I forgot about myself.


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