Love & Loss: A Story About Life, Death, and Rebirth is a deeply personal account of author Jane Bay’s grief and gradual healing after the death of her Tibetan daughter. While difficult to talk about her daughter’s death immediately afterwards, Bay was able to write about her experiences. “It created a safe place, a sanctuary, a container to hold the pain.” With courage and candor, she shares the overwhelming emotions of grief: shock, anger, confusion, sadness, and deep pain.
Written as an “email diary,” Love & Loss incorporates the author’s communications with her daughter, Namgyal Youdon, until her untimely death; email exchanges with friends for two years afterwards; and a skillful weaving of narratives throughout that expands on her experiences.
From the very first email Bay sends about Namgyal’s death and for each one thereafter, she receives an outpouring of love and support from her friends. Each offers expressions of sorrow, sympathy, and comfort — sometimes sharing their own loss and grief. Sprinkled throughout these communications are quotes from spiritual teachings, poems, song lyrics, prayer rituals, and meditations — some come from Bay, some are offered by friends. Each is an offering of love to help her heal.
As her friends journey with her, Bay shares her thoughts, feelings, and even physical changes with an open heart, knowing it is the only way she will get through this devastating time in her life. “No one can save me but myself, and what I’ve needed since Namgyal died has been the space to be present with my feelings, not to bury them, or hide from any of the experiences I was going through, no matter how painful it was at any given time.”
The result is an interconnectedness that creates an amazing transformation — and not just for the author. “Do you know how many people have changed because of the relationship you had with Namgyal? Do you know how many hands are touching when they may never have touched before?” As Bay shares the words of comfort she receives, her friends find healing for pain in their own lives or the lives of others they know. “Your story empowers me to believe that my story, too, will have a happy ‘ending’ — that will truly be, in fact, a new beginning in my own life. Thank you so much for your friendship and for sharing your amazing journey with me and your other dear friends.”
That is the real gift of this book: the message that others can help us heal and our healing can help others. By providing an authentic look at grief and an honest approach to healing, Bay offers hope. “There is life after death, not just for the person who has died, but for the loved ones left behind who must go on living, and hopefully living in the moment with a greater sense of joy.” Unique and poignant, this is an important book for everyone coping with loss or helping someone else cope with loss.
Donna Baker Church is a freelance writer and editor. Donna may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .