The Year of Magical Thinking

Still reeling from the sudden death of her husband and the prolonged critical illness of her only child, Joan Didion undertakes a reflective journey into the nature of grief in her book The Year of Magical Thinking.

It is, perhaps, the saddest book I have ever read (with the least hint of sadness in the title). But it should be read. I’m profoundly affected by having read it. 

Didion writes from a perspective almost missing from the world of grief literature. Even after this emotionally devastating series of events, Didion maintains “no eye is on the sparrow.” She ends her book with those words. Wrecking me. 

Her calm emotional honesty disturbs.

Toward the close of the book she reflects on grief’s surprises. She writes,

"Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself."

Sometimes I forget how tragic it is to be lost, to live in a darkness with no light. Tonight I cried for Joan Didion and all of the others grieving a life without the hope of ever seeing anything beautiful emerge from the grave.