#GriefAwarenessWeek Review: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Published by 4th Estate

This slim volume contains the powerfully emotional thoughts of acclaimed novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as she contends with her raw grief following the death of her beloved father, James Nwoye Adichie. The chapters are each just a few pages long thereby allowing the reader time to reflect on every step of her journey as she examines her pain and tries to reconcile herself to her loss. Her notes on grief provide snapshots expressed in her uniquely elegant style which speak to the universal suffering felt by those of us who have lost parents or other deeply loved family members.

My wariness of superlatives is forever stripped away: 10 June 2020 was the worst day of my life.

page 15

As she shares her pain, anger, frustration and utter disbelief that she will never again see her father, small details emerge of this kind, gentle and brilliant man. Like many thousands of bereaved individuals around the world the author had to deal with the pain of losing her “Daddy” at the peak of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, compounding the loss still further. She and her five siblings are marooned at different points on the globe, communicating their memories and sadness over Zoom and waiting on the vagaries of international travel before they can arrange a funeral. At a time when all of your usual compass points have been torn away, the feeling of utter helplessness is palpable.

In sharing such an intimate account of her own grieving process I think that the author helps us all to recognise and articulate the sorrow that we experience when a loved one dies and also provides assistance in expressing our condolences to others who are bereaved. She states right at the start:

You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping for language.

page 5

I think that many readers will be grateful that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has provided us with the words that both honour her own devastating loss and, at the same time, help us give voice to our own emotions.

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