Sunday Book Review – Widowish” A #Memoir by Melissa Gould

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing a book I came across that immediately grabbed my attention – Widowish: A Memoir by Melissa Gould. I thought the title was attention grabbing, and as a new widow myself, I felt compelled to read to see why the title had an ‘ish’ attached, it had me curious as to the meaning – did ‘ish’ mean kind of a widow? Sometimes a widow? So I dug in to discover and you will discover my findings in my review below.

With over 5000, 4 1/2 star ratings, I can certainly appreciate this woman’s journey of grief, confusion, guilt, and ultimately, finding happiness on her journey.


Melissa Gould’s hopeful memoir of grieving outside the box and the surprising nature of love.

When Melissa Gould’s husband, Joel, was unexpectedly hospitalized, she could not imagine how her life was about to change. Overwhelmed with uncertainty as Joel’s condition tragically worsened, she offered him the only thing she could: her love and devotion. Her dedication didn’t end with his death.

Left to resume life without her beloved husband and raise their young daughter on her own, Melissa soon realized that her and Joel’s love lived on. Melissa found she didn’t fit the typical mold of widowhood or meet the expectations of mourning. She didn’t look like a widow or act like a widow, but she felt like one. Melissa was widowish.

Melissa’s personal journey through grief and beyond includes unlikely inspiration from an evangelical preacher, the calming presence of some Real Housewives, and the unexpected attention of a charming musician.

A modern take on loss, Widowish illuminates the twists of fate that break our world, the determination that keeps us moving forward, and the surprises in life we never see coming.

My Four Star Review:

Amazon alerted me to this book on sale and as a new younger widow myself, I felt drawn to it. I could identify with so much of what Melissa had lived through. We read many books and stories about love and loss, but their meanings somehow give us a heftier impact when we have walked in the shoes.

Melissa’s world comes to a shocking stumble when her husband’s health takes a turn for the worse and has to come to terms with the loss of her loving husband Joel. She often finds herself not believing her husband is dead and it’s her friends that help her through the transition through widowhood. While her love is undying for her husband and some months have passed, Melissa finds herself conflicted as she discovers she’s having feelings for a family friend, a fellow musician, Marcos, from her husband’s circles. Joel was a musician and Marcos also performs guitar, along with all his other do good ventures – helping homeless, teaching guitar, and more. The friendship between Melissa and Marcos strengthens after Melissa asked Marcos to help sell Joel’s guitar collection.

Through Melissa’s journey of grief, she takes comfort in the signs she believes she receives from Joel – signs that come from odd places – songs, a preacher named Joel, and television Housewives. These signs give her comfort in knowing Joel is around and wants her to be happy.

Upon one of her meet ups with Marcos, Melissa begins to feel an attraction for him, and the feeling is mutual. Melissa goes through the conflicting part about still feeling married to someone who is no longer on earth and a struggle to move forward with her life, even though she feels terrified of her guilt for doing so. Her paranoia ensues between her feelings for Marco and her guilt for having those feelings, feeling as though she is betraying Joel. She elaborates on all the new ‘firsts’ in her life without her husband, the chores she inherited, the important dates that passed – holidays, birthdays, her daughter’s graduation and more. Melissa carries all her feelings while journeying through her new life alone, worrying about how her daughter and others would eventually accept her endeavoring into a new relationship. Her person craved the company and conversation while in doing so, the guilt within her for doing so plagued her. Her dilemma was her own guilt and worrying about what others would say about her in a new relationship. She didn’t want people to think just because she was trying to move forward that she didn’t miss or love her husband anymore. There are no rules about when someone is ready to move on after loss and Melissa worried that she was disappointing people by dating someone nine months after burying her husband, especially her daughter. She felt as though people were judging her for not showing her sadness and going on with her life despite her grief and the unvarnished love she would always hold for Joel.

I felt I got to know Melissa and Marcos better than any description paid to Joel and their daughter Sophie, but in all fairness, although the story was built upon Joel’s passing it’s really about Melissa’s journey through the event and her transition through grief. A relatable read for those of us who have loved and lost and an inside look at the struggles of grief and how it affects us, for those who’ve never walked in the shoes.

Favorite Quotes:

“Grief was my constant companion who occasionally took naps.”

“I wanted to get to the other side of my grief, not stay in it forever.”

“There’s no rhyme or reason to grief, when it hits you, it hits you.”

Most powerful statement that vibrated within me was when Melissa said that she could finally stop envisioning her husband sick and dying, she could envision him how he truly was at his best. I still await that day.


35 thoughts on “Sunday Book Review – Widowish” A #Memoir by Melissa Gould

  1. Thanks for sharing this review, Debby. It just shows that every person’s experience is different, but there are still things we can get from other people’s accounts and things that inspire us. Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate so much to this book and your review, Debby. I’ve been on a handful of “dates” since Rick’s passing and felt that guilt Melissa describes. Yet, I know he would want me to be happy should I meet someone else. So far, that hasn’t happened and I don’t believe it will. I’m glad it did happen for Melissa. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for sharing your review of this memoir Debby and Melissa has been very honest about her own situation.. everyone’s experience will be unique but I am sure there are elements such as feeling guilt about being happy or finding companionship again are common to all. I do think the one thing that seems to come through is that the person they loved and lost would only want them to be happy… ♥♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You said it Sal, every relationship is different. And no doubts our lost loved ones would want us to go on and be happy, but they don’t have to live with the inner turmoil of guilt. Me, I was blessed to marry the love of my life, something everyone doesn’t get the privilege. Friendship is the game now, anyone else would only be second best. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robbie. Yes, I think that was the author’s point. I can only imagine her dilemma of trying to move on in her new life and the guilt lurking in her head for her new happiness. I’m so good at carrying guilt most of my life, not sure I can ever deal with that confliction. 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I suspect this is a common situation for many widows. I’ve told my wife that I wouldn’t want her to mourn my death forever if I pass. I’d like her to move on when she is ready. I’m sure that’s easier said than done, and people feel guilty guilt or afraid of what their loved ones and friends will think.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It sounds like an interesting book, Debby, and I understand why it attracted you.
    I appreciate your final statement about being able to envision your husband as he truly was at his best, and hope that he appears that way to you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lis. Not so much a comforting book, but more about one woman’s journey and how she dealt with her journey – grief, guilt and moving forward. Personally, her story would never be mine. But I’m always interested in human behavior. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Debby for your review. It goes to show even though two widows experience grief, each journey is different. You can still gleam some similarities. I did enjoy this quote you shared, “Grief was my constant companion who occasionally took naps.” How true a statement that is.
    Many Blessings to you
    Lisa xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lisa. You got it exactly. This wasn’t a self-help, nonfiction book, it was somebody else’s story. Many things were relatable, while many others I couldn’t conceive doing. But just as you said, it’s my curiosity to see how other people deal with their journeys. And yes, I like to quote things that grab me in a book. So aptly worded – grief is always here, just some moments we’re taken out of it, a respite so to speak and good for the soul. Hugs xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Like you, I glean quotes from books I resonate with and keep them in a folder. It sounds like Melissa’s book struck a chord on several levels. The cover is super great, and I’m glad you could find comfort in reading about her unique journey.

    Sending you loving hugs too, Debby! ((( )))

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “She felt as though people were judging her for not showing her sadness and going on with her life despite her grief and the unvarnished love she would always hold for Joel.”

    This triggered a memory from grade 11. That year, I read “The Outsider” by Albert Camus (it’s often confused with “The Outsiders”, the rebel teens book, which I never read). The book sticks in my brain because it’s about a man who understands the reactions society expects, yet he can’t give them what they want. He grieves after his mother dies but not visually, and he thinks about how others judge him. He thinks about faking it, but if I recall, he doesn’t attempt to.

    Society is like a club with many rules. Anyways, that’s what I thought about, and I often think about the main character in “The Outsider” and how others judge me by my reaction to an event, or lack of reaction.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A tricky situation, but mostly because of the perception and judgement of others. Personally, I don’t think I could date anyone new for quite some time if my husband were to pass away. See, now I’m judgmental myself! But, it truly is up to the widow how she lives the rest of her life. I do understand the feeling of guilt. I think that’s very natural.

    A couple of years after my sister-in-law (Mark’s sister) died, her husband entered a relationship with another women and they are now happily married. He always tells everyone that he still loves his first wife and misses her dearly. Our family has accepted the new wife – she is a wonderful person – and life, somehow, goes on… Dru will never be forgotten and most likely wanted Brian to be happy after she passed away.

    I hope you get to the point where you will remember your puppy as he was in his glorious years instead of on his dead bed, dear Debby! That would warm my heart too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Liesbet for sharing some of your own family experience. I totally get all you said about your BIL moving on, yet acknowledging his undying love for his first wife. That has to be something special on both of them. I can imagine the mental struggle he went through in that early new relationship. I’m still very raw and at this point couldn’t even imagine being with anyone else. In my mind at this point, I would feel like I’d be short-changing someone else because in my heart they’d be playing second fiddle to the love of my life. That’s me now. But I do enjoy reading and hearing stories from others about how they handled all that messy stuff. Hugs to you ❤ xx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A beautiful and tender review and such heartwarming and compassionate comments here, Debby! Although I am fortunate not to have experienced Melissa’s loss or situation my brother lost his wife a few years ago. Even as she was dying they discussed the future, she wanted him to be happy and just asked him to think about the children (they are adults but even so he understood). It took time but my brother is now engaged, his fiance a lovely lady but we still remember his first wife (they’d known each other since their teens) with great love and fondness. Melissa’s ‘Widowish’ is a book I would like to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Annika for sharing some of yourself here. I love all the feedback I receive on this topic. Grieving is the most painful thing one can endure, and nobody can truly know the extent unless they’ve lived it. This is why I’ve read so many books and articles, both on the grieving process, and stories from others who’ve endured. It’s enlightening for me to learn how people can move on – especially when you’re living the part where you can’t see that light in the tunnel. Hopeful stories make me feel just that – hopeful. Hugs ❤

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s