In a 1959 speech, John F. Kennedy famously said: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger and one represents opportunity.” Although today it is widely recognized that this is not the correct interpretation of the Chinese characters, President Kennedy’s wisdom about a crisis yielding unique opportunities may be more important than ever.
This also holds true for many that are grieving indeed it is in those moments of grief and the crisis that death brings that certain cultural and traditional norms are questioned and challenged.
In his latest offering author Brilliant Pongo shares his journey with grief in a book he has titled “Grief Sucks, But Hope Again ; a memoir of pain and loss”
He challenges readers to re-examine the efficacy of what some societies hold as cultural or traditional with regards the conduct expected during mourning or grieving.
Speaking to ZimEye Pongo said, “Indeed, we face so many challenges in the aftermath of a death nevertheless we tend to only highlight and talk of the good and the successes and neglect to speak up on the challenges we encounter during and after the funeral wake.
We rarely share testimonies about how we overcome some of these challenges.
We keep a lot inside and only share success. We must be brave to talk about these issues.
It is my hope that as people read this book we normalise talking about the challenges of dealing with death and perhaps start questioning the efficacy of what we hold as cultural and traditional norms and start challenging and debating whether some of these are fit for purpose in our day and age.”
Brill Pongo is a prolific author with more than 10 publications which include Christian books and self-help books said after the death of his wife he felt he had to share his experiences with grief.
In the last couple of years, the grief memoir has become a genre of its own, a form of public mourning and sometimes of self-therapy, where the bereaved search for meaning from the confusion and mind numbing pain that comes with the death of a loved one.
When one loses a loved one be it wife, mother, father, child or sibling, there comes with it an intense type of grief that has power to turn your world upside down. The death of a loved one resists meaning and it plays havoc with the order and chronology of language. How can words give shape to shapelessness or articulate silence and dissolution? As Emily Dickinson said: “Abyss has no biographer.”
Indeed, there are no words that can describe grief caused by the loss of a loved one.
Nonetheless, all one can do is to share their experiences with grief as Brill Pongo has done in this memoir ‘Grief Sucks’.
The book has 18 chapters with a range of topics. Brill Pongo, narrates his experience with grief through poems that he penned during his low moments of grieving and intricately weaves together the poem to the story and experience that he was going through at that particular moment.
He talks about how he dealt with some very difficult situations, during his grieving.
He questions the stages of grief as set out by psychologist. He asks rhetorically whether the stages of grief relate or not to lived experiences.
He also ventures to explore cultural differences that affect the way people mourn and grieve.
And he touches on some difficulties faced by migrants who live in the diaspora and challenges of deciding where to bury a loved one.
He adds a personal touch to all this by sharing his personal experiences about family fallouts, strained relationships with his in-laws and how cultural differences can sometimes be abused and used vindictively. In this book Brill Pongo also offers insights on how friends can help someone who is grieving.
Overall it is an interesting and amazing read. Once again Brill Pongo has shown great prowess in his ability to tell a reverting story and teach at the same time.
A worthy read that I would highly recommend. The book is available on multiple online platforms such as Amazon, Waterstones, bookdepository, barnesandnoble, and Blackwells book store.