Tag Archives: Book Review

  • -

Book Review: Permission to Grieve by Shelby Forsythia

Tags : 

I was honored to be asked by author Shelby Forsythia to review her book Permission to Grieve: Creating Grace, Space, and Room to Breathe in the Aftermath of Loss. Shelby is an Intuitive Grief Guide and the host of the Coming Back Podcast which are conversations that tell the truth about life after death, divorce, diagnosis, and other important topics.

Shelby’s breaking point was Christmas 2013 when her mom, who she’d seen struggle for a year and a half with breast cancer, suddenly died. Her death was preceded by her dad being in and out of the hospital for two years for major brain surgeries, Shelby’s body battling her mind as she fought binge eating disorder, and what felt like a total loss of home, security, and stability after she came out as pansexual. She affectionately refers to her college years as “the four years of hell.” Losing her mom was the tipping point for Shelby.


Permission to Grieve is a book for people who are tired of covering up and pushing down their pain. It’s a book for people who know that there’s a better, more compassionate way to approach the worst thing that has ever happened to them. It’s a book for people who believe that grief is not an enemy to be vanquished as quickly as possible, but an opportunity to connect more deeply with their human selves. Because even in the midst of loss, Shelby writes, we can create grace, space, and room to breathe.

Drawing on her experience as a grieving person and two years’ worth of interviews with grief experts like Megan Devine, Kerry Egan, and Caleb Wilde, Shelby Forsythia makes the case for radical, self-honoring permission—free from personal judgement and society’s restrictive timelines and rules. Permission to Grieve guides you to call your grief out of hiding and invites you to give it permission through thoughtful writing prompts, easy-to-follow exercises, and clever visual illustrations.


GROUNDBREAKING….Shelby’s thoughtful and groundbreaking approach to grief in Permission to Grieve provides the universal truths to help someone who has experienced loss of any kind, move from surviving to living again.

COMPELLING….Having experienced so many losses in my own life I thought I knew what it takes to move through grief. Once I started reading Permission to Grieve, Shelby’s compelling, thought-provoking, and heartfelt words transported me to back to a place in my heart I thought I would never find again.

TRAILBLAZER….Shelby Forsythia is a true grief trailblazer in her new book, Permission to Grieve. Weaving her personal loss story with grief myth-busters, thought provoking “Pause Buttons” and real world actionable tools, Shelby brings loss out from the abyss of darkness back into the light.

Some of my favorites quotes from Permission to Grieve include: 

– “Whether someone you love has died and you can’t imagine yourself surviving in a world without them…or you’ve just been served divorce papers, wrecking your dream of a long and happy future…or you’ve just received a life-changing diagnosis that takes away your balance, health, and control, the outcome is the same: This is not my life. This doesn’t belong to me. This is not happening.” (Page 29)

– “Getting fired from a job, having a relationship hit the rocks, seeing a parent or grandparent get sick…these are all difficult losses to experience and are grief-triggering life events. But instead of honoring our grief or even taking time to look at it, we’re taught to bypass our feelings, reject the fact that we’ve been hurt by what’s happened, and carry on.” (Page 32)

 – “What if we had permission to share our feelings with others without fear of being a burden? What if we had permission to believe that the life of an animal is just as significant as the life of a human? What if we had permission to carry loss with us even after time has passed? What if we had permission to show weakness, break down, and cry in front of others?” (Page 46)

– “It is normal and human for us to ride the waves in grief. It is incredibly scary at times, especially when our lives up until our loss have been relatively smooth sailing. But we will never fully witness the next emotional wave if we lock up our grief and don’t give it space to move through us. All grief wants is the experience of moving through us.” (Page 60)

“Don’t ask your losses to stay small so that you can feel safe. The moment loss happens, we no longer fit into our old lives. Post-loss, we know more. We’ve seen more. And we’ve grieved more. Allowing grief space to permeate your life “before” and influence your life “after” is a powerful piece of permission, one that honors your role as an active participant in the world. And when your world changes, so do you.” (Page 77)


– “Hold this book close to your heart. It won’t take away the hurt, but it will give you a roadmap for how to carry it forward.” Stephanie Zamora

“This book is relatable on so many levels to anyone dealing with death, diagnosis and the other various struggles we incur during this lifetime.
You will be finding yourself saying “that’s me” and “I feel the exact same way” allowing you to feel as if you’re not alone in this journey that you probably have never ever prepared yourself for. Comforting and written with heart and soul. A must read!”
Amazon Review


Permission to Grieve is available September 4th 2019 on Amazon and on Amazon Kindle.


Sending you love, comfort and peace!

  • -

Book Review: Widowed & Widowed 2 by John Polo

Tags : 

I was honored to be asked by author John Polo to review his books Widowed and Widowed 2. John, also known as the Better Not Bitter Widower is a widower, step-Dad, author, public speaker, and Hope & Empowerment Coach.

John met Michelle as a teenager, and they fell in love. Eight years after their high school romance, they reunited and planned to spend the rest of their lives together, alongside her amazing daughter. Two short years later, Michelle was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer. She died at the the very young age of 30.

As John picked up the pieces of his broken heart and devastated soul, something amazing happened. He discovered a deep passion for writing and speaking about love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment and hope. His goal is to help others both honor their pain and see that a hopeful tomorrow can indeed exist.

His book Widowed. Rants, Raves and Randoms was released in 2017; a year after Michelle’s death. His second book, Widowed 2. Now I Live. was released in 2019.


Widowed chronicles the immediate aftermath of John’s beloved wife Michelle’s death. He shares his thoughts, feelings, and as he calls it, his “rants, raves and randoms” about how her death impacted his life especially their future hopes and dreams. 

Widowed 2 chronicles what John is experiencing two years after Michelle’s death. Although he is still mourning, John writes about how he is moving through the pain to find a sense of hope again. It is this hope which has propelled him into helping others who are dealing with similar losses. 

Better Not Bitter WidowerMY REVIEW

Widowed and Widowed 2 are not your average grief and loss books. This is a good thing and is what makes them stand-out. Each book is a raw, soul-filled, and often humorous tribute by a deeply grieving husband to the love of his life. From the very first page, John Polo immediately draws you into the life he was living shortly after his wife’s death. Using a unique approach and diverse writing style, John shares his intimate thoughts and feelings through personal stories, anecdotes, poetry, quotes, diatribes and hashtags. You feel the love. You feel the pain. You feel the emptiness. You feel the descending darkness. But you also feel the joy. The laughter. The compassion. The hope. The light at the end of the tunnel. The promise of the future that is still to be. 

Some of my favorites quotes from Widowed include: 

“We CAN grieve as we move forward. We CAN move forward as we grieve. The two ideas are NOT mutually exclusive. They can walk hand and hand.” (Page 34)

“From this point on, every time someone asks you your emergency contact, you are going to want to cry.” (Page 53)

“PSA: Shut. Up. Everything happens for a reason.” (Page 120)

Some of my favorites quotes from Widowed 2 include: 

“I loved her my way. I will grieve her my way. My way.” (Page 43)

“Sometimes the grieving want company, And, sometimes, they want to be left alone. The truth is, we almost always want the invite. Where does everyone go?” (Page 67)

“I feel cheated. We were robbed of our 50 years together. I feel lucky. I got to call the love of my life ‘my wife.’ I feel cheated and I feel lucky. I feel both.” (Page 164)

After reading these wonderful books, all I can say to John is:

– #your #words #moved #me

– #you #are #not #weird #you #are #amazing

– #thank #you #for #sharing #Michelle #with #us

– #you #done #good #my #friend #you #done #good


– “This book made me cry so hard, and then laugh even harder. Have Kleenex ready and go pee before you start. Because you won’t want to put it down.”  Amazon Review

– “This book is wonderful, and very different than other books out there on grief and the loss of a spouse. The writing is simply raw, visceral, direct, and very real. I found myself nodding my head as I read John’s words, with so many memories of my late husband flooding back into my mind. John’s reflections on the experience of being widowed are spot on. The font changes and random thoughts he included reminded me of the way so much of life felt so random in the early days, like how you could be knocked to the ground by a song or something else triggering a memory. This book is unique and very special. I know I will go back to it again & again. Well done, John Polo!” Amazon Review

– “I lost my husband and have read several grief books. This one is different. It is not full of just fluff words. It gets to the point in the first pages. It’s raw, painful, letting you know that you are not alone in those crazy, painful feelings that overtake you in such a loss. It’s profound. John Polo can say in two sentences what others take two chapters to say. It’s funny because yes, we widows/(ers) seem to find humor in some of the darkest places. This is my go-to book and now I’m eagerly awaiting is second book. His website also lets you know all the other things he does, seminars, life coaching, etc.” Amazon Review


Widower and Widower 2 are available on the Better Not Bitter Widower website and on Amazon.


Sending you love, comfort and peace!

  • -

Book Review: A Widow’s Awakening by Maryanne Pope

Tags : 

I was honored to be asked by author Maryanne Pope to review her book A Widow’s Awakening. Maryanne is an author, playwright, screenwriter, blogger, public speaker, workplace safety advocate, environmental educator and professional Auntie – started Pink Gazelle Productions in 2002, two years after the on-duty death of her police officer husband, Cst John Petropoulos of the Calgary Police Service.


Discover the true meaning of love…

Do you believe in soul mates? What if the death of your soul mate meant the birth of your life-long dream?

A Widow’s Awakening is a fictional account based on the true story of a young woman’s struggle to come to terms with the death of her police officer husband who died while investigating a breaking and entering complaint.

Engaging, powerful, heart-wrenching, and at times humorous, this honest look at the first year of a widow’s grief captures the immense difficulty of learning how to accept the unacceptable while transforming loss into positive change—and is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

A Widow's Awakening


“Based on a true story, A Widow’s Awakening, is a hauntingly beautiful story of enduring love, overwhelming heartache and discovering resiliency. After the tragic death of her police officer husband Sam, Adri struggles to breathe let alone move forward in her life. With descriptions that are heartfelt, painful and often humorous, author Maryanne Pope artfully paints a picture of what it is like to have your entire world pulled out from under you. Having lost my own loved one tragically, I could so relate to everything Adri was feeling, experiencing and describing. I cried, I laughed, and found compassion for this woman who was courageously trying to navigate through what seemed like a terrible dream. This book is a must-read for anyone who has lost someone they loved and struggled to find their way in the aftermath of tragedy. Thank you to Maryanne for so bravely and honestly sharing her remarkable story of love and hope.”


– “I started reading A Widow’s Awakening on Sunday and finished it Monday. The first third of your book touched me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I cried so hard, my eyes became swollen; the pain was so real. I haven’t cried that hard in a long, long time. The grief you expressed was so real to me, as I experienced my own grief in a similar way. Reading your book has been healing for me.”  Cristy

– “I bought your book yesterday and meant to wait until the next day to read it. I crawled into bed and tried to sleep but something kept at me. So I crawled out of bed and read your book from start to finish. It was amazing. I couldn’t put it down.” Darcy

– “My heart is beating harder and my breathing shorter. I am hugging my husband tighter and kissing him longer. I have burnt supper while reading! I have read books until wee hours of the night but I have not felt this much about a book before. You are an incredibly gifted writer…I feel like I am right beside you and that I am getting to know John and your relationship together. I love how he loved you. I love your writing style, how brilliantly you tie everything together and how you authentically share your soul.” Kim


A Widow’s Awakening is available at BHC Press and all major book retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, etc.


Sending you love, comfort and peace!


Heal Your Sh*t Interview

Free Sample Chapter

New Book

Free Sample Chapter

Grief Diaries

Guide To Pet Loss eBook

Guide To Pet Loss eBook