In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced the 5 stages of grief in her book Death and Dying and it is those 5 stages that Claire Bidwell Smith frames her adult life within her book The Rules of Inheritance.
At age 14, Bidwell Smith is informed, within a few short months, that both of her parents have cancer. She knows that by the time she is 30, she will most likely not have any parents at all.
Grief is seldom a linear occurrence. While it would be wonderful to read Kubler-Ross' book and think, Yes, I have gone through stages 1 and 2, just 3 more and I am done with this, grief is a tricky little troll that sneaks up on you at any given moment. Bidwell Smith does an excellent job of identifying the stages that she was in throughout her life as well as giving the reader an opportunity to navigate these losses with her. Giving snapshots of herself at 14, at 18, at 22, etc., coping, dealing, struggling, we see that she is still working through those stages of grief and guilt through alcohol, drugs, and damaging relationships.
It is difficult to explain to someone that has never been through the processes of death and dying of someone close to them, exactly the gamut of emotions that you go through as you watch a parent or loved one die or the hole that you are left with when they are finally gone.
Through reading this book, I was forced to finally deal with some of the things that I have held onto since my dad's death a few years ago. I was challenged to reconcile the actions of the man I had known all my life with the man I knew right before he died.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that has gone through (or is going through) the grieving process, but also to anyone that enjoys reading a poignant, thoughtful autobiography.
This is a paid review for the BlogHer Book Club. All opinions and statements in this review are my own.