Deccan Chronicle

Book Review | Rising beyond personal losses

Deccan Chronicle.| Victor Rao

Published on: May 5, 2023 | Updated on: May 5, 2023

The three-part book invites you to discover each of the three entwined phenomena of grief, growth and grace.

Cover photo of 'Grief Growth Grace' by Neena Verma. (Photo by arrangement)

Cover photo of 'Grief Growth Grace' by Neena Verma. (Photo by arrangement)

"Death belongs to life as birth does. The walk is in the raising of the foot, as in the laying of it down," Neena Verma writes in the opening lines of her book, through the words of Rabindranath Tagore. This book is for you, if you believe that resilient and meaning-centric life radiates light in the dark night of pain. It is an inspiration in itself and affirms transformation from pain to purpose. Laden with heart-wrenching personal narratives, it is for everyone who has loved and lost.

A companion, counselor, educator and a grieving mother herself, Neena Verma has come up with an in-depth and engaging book that steers grief onto a ‘growth and grace’ pilgrimage.

The three-part book invites you to discover each of the three entwined phenomena of grief, growth and grace.

The Part I revolvng around ‘Maze of grief’ affirms the inevitability of loss, death and grief in human life. The two chapters ‘Mystique of growth’ and ‘Marvel of grace’ explore the phenomena of ‘Post Traumatic Grace’ and ‘growth wisdom’. The other chapters take you on the self-transcendent path of forgiveness. It unfurls the five petals of the flowers of grace- gratitude, reverence for life, affirmation, confirmation and the very essence of life.

"When we embrace the dark, we are ready to welcome the light," Neena says.

The book illustrates many real-life cases of people finding their own way to overcome grief and anguish.

Neena lost her son Utkarsh when he was barely 23. She says perhaps one of the hardest to talk about is the loss of a child. "No parent can ever be strong enough to contemplate the thought of losing a child. When parents die, they leave behind a legacy. When children die, they leave behind shattered dreams, which pierce you like sharp broken glass pieces," she explains.

However, rather than buckling down to the tragic turns, she gathered courage to move on. With faith, compassion and strength she chose to reconstruct a life of purposefulness.

Through the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, she says, "Life is both dreadful and wonderful. Smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow."

The feature of the book is the author’s resilience to life’s adversity and pain through sanguinity and perceived control. She advises everyone to stay strong, adapt and resurge.

"Supple strength is not about defying or demonizing the dark, but honouring it and responding with purpose and poise," she says.

Neena believes in the ‘one-task-at-a-time’ motto. She says, "Aapproach work for its own sake and for good easons, not as an escape from pain." 

In her ‘Way to well-being’ chapter, she focuses on the concept of Sabbath, a Hebrew word for sabbatical. In ancient biblical tradition, Sabbath (seventh day) meant time for rest and worship.

In the chapter "Resilient Adaptation," she beautifully explains the true meaning of restoration. She says, "Restore means rekindling the will to live and the will to sustain."

Moving forward, she cites Hollywood blockbuster ‘Cast Away’ where Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland, heartwarmingly quips in an interview – ‘at the end … it’s going to be okay… as long as you keep breathing and have a certain kind of perspective and proportion to your life.’

Neena eloquently describes the meaning of forgiveness and its healing power. It allows the emergence of a transformed self that poet David Whyte wisely calls ‘a larger identity than the person who was first hurt.’

Forgiveness is not easy; it calls us to rise above our injury and pain.

For instance Priyanka Gandhi spoke in a TV interview about her transformation from being ‘furious with the world’ when her father was slain brutally, to becoming a ‘forgiving daughter.’   

The author concludes with a soulful prayer:

"May we embrace our pain with a sense of purpose. May we meet adversity with a world-view of abundance. May we heal our wounds with the warmth of our wisdom."  

Grief Growth Grace

By Neena Verma

Rupa Publications

Pages: 302, Price: Rs 395

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