By Megan Devine
Reviewed by Sally Fox
If you’ve known devastating loss, reading It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine can be like sitting with a compassionate friend who knows that you’re not crazy and doesn’t try to fix you. “The way we deal with grief in our culture is broken,” Devine says at the start of her book, then she illustrates how often we hurt the grieving friends whom we most want to comfort. We expect friends to manage their losses, implying that they should “just get on with life” after a suitable period of time. We think we offer help with our hopeful platitudes but leave our deeply grieving friends feeling alienated and dismissed, worried that it’s not OK to feel the pain they are still feeling.
After describing how many forms of support can hurt someone dealing with grief, Devine shares what can help, drawing from her work as a therapist and personal experience with tragedy. Never again will you attempt to cheer people out of their feelings or wax on about a probable silver lining. Instead, you’ll understand the power of being present to a friend’s pain even when it feels unbearable, listening for what your friend needs, and keeping your heart open with compassion.