Grief Doesn’t Do Math Book Review


Grief Doesn’t Do Math offers comfort and connection, while embracing a personal way to experience and endure the grieving process on one’s own terms. Grief Doesn’t Do Math envisions a wider lens for grievers beyond the renowned five stages. This book includes journal entries, poems, and reflections written over the course of seven years by author Heather H. Burwell as she experienced her own journey of grief. Grief is a nonlinear process and something we all encounter in our lives, a burden that can be eased through sharing. As noted in the epilogue, “This is my grief virgin voyage, and I share with you for a sole reason: to help other people sitting in their dinghies in torrential rainstorms, tossed upon similar waves.”

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Recording artist and author Heather Burwell offers a real and hopeful examination of grief in Grief Doesn’t Do Math. Burwell weaves in her own story of grief as she dispels the popular, linear “five stages of grief” that just didn’t work for her after the sudden death of her husband when their son was only four years old. But, if not the five stages, then what? The five stages have become such a widely adopted model for grieving that there seems to be no other path. Until now. Burwell changes the narrative on grieving by offering an alternative guide for those whose grief journey isn’t fitting into the prescribed pattern.

Interestingly, Burwell describes that the five stages of grief were originally the five stages of “dying” that unintentionally got translated into stages of “grieving”. In other words, the prescribed stages were never intended as a prescription for grief, thus why they don’t fit the grief journey for most people.

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Grief Doesn’t Do Math is a short read at 74 pages. It’s one-part memoir, one-part approval to grieve at the pace and in the way that works for the individual, and one-part counseling based on Burwell’s role as a chaplain. Reflection questions are included to help the reader work through their grief struggles.

Definitely recommend this book for anyone who’s working through grief of any sort, as grief extends to circumstances much broader than the death of a loved one.

Who would benefit from this book?

Anyone struggling with grief would find comfort in knowing the grief process is a very personal journey and sometimes looks more like spaghetti thrown at the wall than a perfect line to follow. Anyone looking for quick answers and easy solutions won’t find that in Grief Doesn’t Do Math – or anywhere. But the assurance and guidance Burwell provides is a beacon in the storm.

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The book reviews at Finding God Among Us focus on Christian books – adult and children, fiction and nonfiction. Our specialties are books on faith and new Christian book releases. We’re proud to be included in the Top Christian Book Review Bloggers. I chose to read this book with no obligation for a review.

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