Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review: Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go

Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go by Amy Wright Glenn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was published November 21, 2017.

I had very personal reasons to read this book. Last year as I was trying to process my own grief from my own experiences and the terminal diagnosis my father received, I met with a chaplain on our campus who used the term "holding space." I was nervous about talking to someone, but knew I needed to, and it something I was glad I did. I've read many books about grief, even spent an entire podcast episode discussing books on grief and how reading can help you through a tough time. The people who were there for me had a powerful impact, and the space they held for me allowed me to hold space for others in the days leading up to and after my father's death. Yes, I too was grieving, but there was also this space. So when I saw this book come across the NetGalley listings, I knew I wanted to know more.

Amy Wright Glenn is a former Mormon who went on to study comparative religion, and works as a doula and hospital chaplain. She writes about the importance of holding space in various moments of grief, and not only at the end of life - loss of pregnancies, stillbirth, when a family member is injured, cancer diagnoses, and so on. She discusses the importance of her own meditation practice in developing the grounding and strength that allows her to hold this space for others.

What I wasn't expecting, but enjoyed, was a parallel discussion of her Mormon upbringing, how the LDS teachings form her background if not her beliefs, and how those ideas intersect with many other religions. I don't often get to read former Mormon narratives that aren't completely villainizing what they've left behind, and it was interesting to learn about.

I have some interest in this idea of the grief doula. I know people who volunteer for hospice and other things outside of their "real" jobs. This is a book I would want to return to, at the very least to check out her recommended reading.

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