THE HARE-SHAPED HOLE - REVIEW BY LIZZIE PICKERING
As a bereaved mother of (at the time) young children whose sibling had died, and 23 years on as someone who provides grief guidance for people going through loss, through bereavement, divorce, diagnosis and many major life changes, I have stacks of excellent bereavement books on my desk, both fiction and non-fiction and I match my clients to those which might resonate for their individual and unique grief. But there are few books which I would recommend to anyone going through grief, until this one! John Dougherty has written a book which hit me in the heart immediately and resonated in a way I have rarely felt. So often there is the odd sentence or experience which resonates, but in The Hare-Shaped Hole, I found myself nodding quietly as I turned each page. And Thomas Docherty has illustrated each feeling and emotion beautifully.
When I work with adults who are living with the grief of children, perhaps over a sibling or parent, they always ask me ‘what should we say?’, ‘what can we do?’ - and Jacinda Ardern’s words always come to mind as a starting point: ‘We cannot know your grief, but we will walk beside you every step of the way’. Gerda the bear, Bertle’s new, wise friend gets this exactly right, not trying to placate, not trying to make Bertle better – just being by his side. ‘She cuddled that small turtle-child as he cried and let him feel all he was feeling inside’.
Much of my work is around the notion of continuing bonds, that rather than finding closure, or leaving the loss behind (which is usually the most distressing aspect of grief – of time passing, and memories fading, we find ways of connecting to the person we have lost, through memory books, writing, bringing them into our lives in a new way whilst they are not there physically any more. ‘Then speak out those memories! Speak them out loud! Let the emptiness know that you’re grateful and proud…..
This is not just the perfect book for children adapting to loss, or children supporting a friend (over a death, change in a friendship or divorce) but for adults too – I will be recommending it to both and it will be sitting on my desk to remind me, for many years to come.