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Read My Book: Phyllis Nakonechny on Vidh: A Book of Mourning

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Filed under: Read My Book

After my husband’s death, came what I call the astonishment of grief. My astonishment came from the immediate and surprising realization that I felt cut off from everything and everyone around me. It is this immediate sense of separateness and emptiness that followed the death of my husband and the unexpected loss of identity – as if I had been emptied of myself – that I address in my book Vidh: A Book of Mourning.

One day when I was desperately searching the internet for anything that would affirm my own experience with grief, I came across the word vidh. I discovered that the root of our word widow is an Indo-European word linked to the Sanskrit vidh holding various shades of meaning, such as empty, separate or apart. It seemed to delineate perfectly the experience of grief.

Except at funerals or memorials, we do not invite conversation about death and its presence in our lives. We’re not very good with sadness … not in ourselves or others. It makes us uncomfortable. It wasn’t very long into the grieving process that I understood that it was usually best to keep my feelings secret and to pretend that I was fine.

What I wanted most in those first few years – more than grief counselling, or too-lengthy self-help books – was to feel connected again to others, to hear the voice of someone like me, someone who knew what I was having to learn. I couldn’t find it, so I decided to be that voice for others. By writing this memoir, I hope to break through the unspoken code of secrecy that surrounds the experience of loss.

I think it must be true that we all know something about love and loss and I hope that in relating the experience of my journey into widowhood, others will find in Vidh a quiet voice that offers consolation and the assurance that we are not alone.

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