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.
“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.