The Virgin Widow is a memoir– a self-help/personal growth book for individuals who have recently lost a partner, written for those who are aware that lifelong partnership is never guaranteed. When the reality of partner loss is thrust upon us, we are most often unprepared. The grief that accompanies the loss is typically overwhelming, as painful as picking one’s way through rubble after an earthquake.
Not only do we acutely mourn the specific comforts and familiarity of the beloved– we are forced into a new, unwelcome, and radically shifted world-picture that eerily enough contains many of the same objects, people and places, in a different light. “Virgin Widows” are innocent, first-time widows and widowers who have an unexplored base of experience upon which to draw the wisdom, philosophy and behavior necessary to find a way through the myriad, intricate and immobilizing situations demanding their attention.
The book provides guidance on how to navigate this kaleidoscopic and confusing time — opening up a variety of ‘windows’ on the process of moving through this altered life landscape, and consciously working with change and transition.
The Virgin Widow traces the compelling and universal journey of the author, Dr. Andrea Gould, a successful psychologist, through the spectral phases of her own widowhood. Follow the author’s personal journals, the reader will study the healing journey — replete with all of its uncertainties, challenges and triumphs — of a trustworthy and sensitive sister. Like millions of women, Andrea became a “virgin widow” overnight, thoughtfully willing herself to survive the challenge with grace.
As a psychologist she is almost by definition, sensitive to the nuanced shades of psychic change, and so as she mourned, her journal entries became a repository of conscious reflection on the process of adjusting to change and transition itself. These notes from the ‘front’ are meant to guide others on their own healing path, just as a field guide’s penciled drawings of blue jay sightings and deer tracks assist fellow voyagers in the natural world. Intended ultimately as an interactive tool, experiencing The Virgin Widow will help readers learn about what quotidian pitfalls lay ahead, receive solace, and encourage thinking and reflection about how to cope with change and sudden loss.
In fact, The Virgin Widow presents a larger philosophy about change and transformation through the structures of its format, and the presentation of its distilled wisdom. The Virgin Widow models a process of conscious choice within the upheaval, and embraces the vicissitudes of interior monologues. It frankly acknowledges just how difficult it is to manage these internal voices, shifting from one world-outlook to another.
Finding her way through the grieving process, the author relied heavily on her practices of meditation, internal self-talk and journal-keeping attempting to make sense of her new and tenuous life as a widow. What emerges is a pattern of evolution, and a distillation of how coping tools can work for the average person. Making transparent the experience of loss and transformation helps readers know that they are not alone– that the healing cycle has a dynamic rather than a static, stepped rhythm helps mourners as well as caretakers relate to the unfolding of healing from personal crisis.
The Virgin Widow is a special book because it addresses difficult matters with a light and humble touch. Existential problems around the “ordinary” arise, and these issues are treated with humor and anecdote throughout. Moreover, The Virgin Widow provides a high degree of wisdom and objectivity about these matters through its psychological commentary. The memoir is thereby lifted into another realm of educating readers about how to develop creative competence for adjusting to change.
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Genre – NonFiction
Rating – G
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