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Gardening and Grief: A Review of “The Accidental Tour Guide” by Mary Moody


Book cover of The Accidental Tour Guide: Adventures in Life and Death by Mary Moody

If you’re a veteran subscriber of Bound2Books you know that I have written quite a few reviews on literature relating to death, loss, and cancer. The reason for this has been selfish because after losing my Dad to cancer in 2011 I have searched for meaning, understanding, and hope in this unending grief we all find ourselves in.

There are many ways to work through grief. Cheryl Strayed hiked great distances after the loss of her mother. So it doesn’t seem too strange that Mary Moody would look to gardening and plants to work through the ongoing grief of caring for her dying husband and then also after his death.

She talks about her garden and career that lead her to travel the world. Even though Moody isn’t always explicit, you can hear in between her words, the comfort nature brings her in this time of upheaval.

Moody talks about how grief can get mixed up with “regular life” and it is sometimes one of the hardest aspects of grief to deal with. The world goes on around you as you care for a loved one – bills need to paid, dinners cooked, clothes washed. All the while you know finality of death is looming. Even after loss, grief still gets mixed up with life, it is just there is giant human-sized hole in your life and you can never quite seem to fill it.

When Moody talks about her husband’s death. It is extremely confronting. He is distraught. He is aggressive and delusional. As his body shuts down delirium and the toll of dying takes hold. It is horrible to witness. I know first hand. Watching someone die in front of you is not about angels singing and peaceful bliss. There is a lot of trauma that no one speaks about and to have Moody detail this in her book has helped me process my own grief and sorrow around my father’s pain. Of course we, like Moody, had nurses and doctors helping us look after my Dad, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Despite the many books I read and review about death on my blog, there is still such a silence around death and dying. I wonder if it is out of fear. As though speaking it out aloud invites it into your home.

We are told to hold things in all the time and books like Moody’s feel like a direct rebellion against this societal fear and taboo of death. Shout it from the roof tops! If you ask me…

What books have helped you get through difficult times of grief and pain? As always, share the reading love.

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