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So Now What?

Harnessing Grief After Life's Major Losses


What does it mean to "harness" grief?

When faced with the tragic loss of a loved one, we can find a path that strengthens us, utilizes our experiences, and continues a meaningful relationship with that person. Author Alexandra McGroarty learned how to do so and is now gratified to share her insights. With her earned understanding, Alexandra offers her judgment-free, open-hearted, and fair-minded approach to living with and moving through grief, in whatever form it may take, in whatever way you choose.

Release Date

May 2023



Finalist on Foreword Indie Book Reviews for 2023


“For a long time during your grief, you might have felt adrift, lost, like a stranger in your own life. You are, nevertheless, still you, still capable of love, joy, remembrance, and laughter.”

I didn't expect to relate to it as much as I did. The passages are very deep and realistic. And nothing like a writer who knows what will really help. Little things that help one center and come back to the core.

When one is in pain as a result of a death of a loved one, if there was only one book to read, it would certainly be this one; it will undoubtedly help you in this difficult time. Simple to read and of great depth. 

The author has a gentle way with words, each day's page opens the heart to healing step by step, she puts into words things I'm feeling but can't quite articulate, so that when I read certain passages I think, "Yes - exactly!" and she is also giving me greater understanding of some things I’m experiencing and walking me through them.

Alexandra McGroarty imparts her personal experience, she’s so brave and that makes this a powerful source of wisdom and practical insights for dealing with grief. There're tools for finding meaning and purpose to move on with our lives despite the loss. And struggle with the complex emotions and challenges of grief and how it affects both us and the people around us.

The fact that it is well written makes it accessible. It has several quotes that touch your heart and with which many may feel identified.

Grief is inevitable. At some point in our lives—often unexpectantly—it will come knocking at our door. For the author Alexandra McGroarty, it didn’t tap lightly. She was completely blindsided by the death of her beloved husband, who was only thirty-nine when he passed. Though she is candid about nearly being leveled by the experience, Alexandra found a way to persevere. Through her lived experience, she created a guidebook to help individuals navigate the foggy, often solitary journey through grief.

Alex masterfully took her own tragic and raw experience and captured the complexity of stark realities in an easily readable book offering options and inspirations to navigate sudden spousal loss while raising small children, running a business, and moving into a new home.

I appreciated the Author’s Note at the beginning where McGroarty acknowledges that she is not an expert and has no official credentials to back up her observations. She is, as she says, someone “who has walked -- and in some ways will always be walking -- the path through grief.” I think this is a very vulnerable but also powerful way to open the book, as it could very easily be used to discredit her as an author on grief. However, I found it comforting, knowing that the book wouldn’t be dispassionate or overly clinical. Because she is leaning on her own lived experiences and not research or book knowledge, she can walk with the reader and offer them reassurance and companionship in their journey. As McGroarty writes, “we read about grief to learn if - and how - others survived it, that we’re not alone, and that we are seen” (4), and this book is an excellent glimpse into one woman’s walk through loss.

I highly recommend this book. It is written very well and is super easy to read. I’m glad it’s not overly wordy or long because reading can feel daunting when you are in the depths of grief. The author admits she is not considered an expert on the topic of grief; however, she so expertly describes grief as most experience it and gives such practical ideas in a compassionate way. I love that she skipped defining grief, as anyone picking this up to read would already know first-hand what it is. She describes how we live in a “death-denial” culture and how that hinders the process of grieving, mourning, and healing. She goes into detail on how to deal with the inevitable guilt, blame, and anger. I love the ideas she gives for creating remembrance rituals and the permission to let them go. The book is full of understanding and hope, which is just what we need.

It's the book no one wants to have to need. BUT, what a blessing that it exists for us. The author does a beautiful job creating a safe space to approach the topic of moving through grief in ways that truly allow us to heal. The book is not filled with platitudes; instead it defines our "death-denying" culture and shares how we might harness our grief through rituals for our lost loved ones or speaking to a medium. And, the author shares what not to say to a grieving person. I also enjoyed the chapter on building a new relationship with the loved one gone physically.

Admittedly, this was a tough read for me, as loss is the only thing I really fear. But, what a beautiful companion to one of life's only truths--loss happens.

There is something to be said for the honesty that McGroarty brings to their work. It’s a genuine sort of engagement between strangers, the writer and the reader, much akin to a surprisingly somber conversation between you and a stranger on a long trip. The writing style feels like McGroarty is leaning in, eyes wide and voice low, as she talks to you, waits for you to nod in understanding, and then continues. The context within this text is something we have all heard or had to engage with before, but it is the mannerism in which McGroarty writes that will stay with me.

I was looking for a book to help my friend cope with the sudden loss of both her parents. Her parents were still quite young and it was very unexpected. She was devastated and confided in me that she was having a very difficult time dealing with her grief. While I personally am a good friend to listen, I did feel a bit out of my element based on the circumstances and thought I’d look for a book that was more personable, and not just a standard coping guide that I had come across in my searches. The author of the book, who lost her husband Mike suddenly. She writes from a place of personal experience and offers her readers compassion and understanding. The book is full of hope and inspiration, and it offers readers a path to healing. I found her style to be one that will be very helpful for my friend, as it’s not just written in a straight medical/technical style, which I felt would be the worst type of way to approach the grief she’s been feeling. If you are looking for a book to help a friend cope with the sudden loss of a loved one, I highly recommend this. It is a book that will offer your friend comfort, support, and hope.

So Now What? thoroughly addresses what someone who has lost a loved one feels and needs during this difficult time. The first time I experienced grief was when I lost my aunt to breast cancer in 2000. She was in her forties and at the peak of her career when the illness took her away from us. Even though I was very young back then, I will never forget the pain I felt knowing that I would never see her again. She was a kindhearted person and an inspiration to everyone, and we really had a hard time letting her go. While reading the book, I thought that we could have dealt with our grief better if we had the chance to read this book at the time. The book covers various topics about death and dealing with grief. It will gradually help you understand all the stages that you are going to go through and ways on how you can cope with grief. It also shares what you can and cannot say or do to someone who is grieving. I love how detailed the book is and how it covered many areas.

McGroarty connected to her readers not only with her impressive writing but also with her own experience. It’s not easy to open up about one’s grievances, but knowing that she was able to openly share her story makes this book a perfect one to read for people going through grief and major losses.

Alexandra McGroarty’s book on handling grief is well-written and full of understanding about what grief is, what it does to you, and how to manage it. You don’t have to be a doctor to know how grief affects you and the upheaval it brings to your life. But every person will experience grief at some point, which makes us all experts in our own right.

McGroarty’s loss of her young husband forms the basis for this helpful book on navigating grief. Her writing shows her understanding of the problems and process and she acknowledges that everyone grieves differently and shouldn’t feel ashamed or alarmed if their journey is different from someone else’s.

Having lost my dad suddenly in 2021, I was thrust into the horror of wondering what had happened and how. I went through the anger, lack of energy, and confusion accompanying such a new and sudden emotion. I really wish I’d had a chance to read this book then. McGroarty’s empathetic approach to grief is a reminder that we are not alone in this tough place of pain. This book can also help you offer support and comfort to others who are going through loss.

Thousands of books have been written on managing grief or what one should expect as one processes grief. But none have the power to speak to you, to reach inside you and hold your heart so delicately as this book. Alexandra McGroarty is not a therapist, psychologist, counselor, or licensed expert on grief – she is forward about this in her Intro – but she has walked (and continues to walk) the path of grief. Reading this book is like having the long, utterly candid, gut-wrenching, ugly-crying, laughing until to wet yourself talks with a best friend – someone who fully understands because she’s been there herself and she knows that everyone’s grief looks different and you don’t have to work through your grief on a timeline or act a certain way – and that even if you can pull yourself together in the morning, you still might collapse into a pile of depression by lunchtime. AND THAT’S OK.

I highly recommend this book not only for those experiencing a major loss but those close to someone experiencing grief. This book can help guide friends and loved ones on what NOT to say, how to be there for your loved one, and how to listen. I am so thankful to Alexandra McGroarty for writing this book. I just want to hug her until our arms give out.

“So Now What?: Harnessing Grief after Life's Major Losses” is an exceptionally profound and insightful book by Alexandra McGroarty that delves into the intricate realm of grief and provides invaluable guidance for those who have experienced profound loss. Drawing from her own personal experience of losing her husband at a young age, McGroarty brings a deep sense of empathy and understanding to the subject, making her book a truly enlightening read.

The thing I appreciated most about this guide was how accessible it was. Author Alexandra McGroarty defines all of the terms she uses to talk about grief and also makes a point to say how important a shared language is when speaking about grief. Grief is a highly personal experience, and having common terms to speak about it allows individuals to communicate effectively. Though McGroarty is careful to define her terms, she never uses language that is too academic or complex, so readers will always feel on the same page with her. This makes it simple to put her words into practice, either by taking specific actions or just reframing a way of thinking. You won't feel overwhelmed if you happen to turn to this book while you or a loved one are in the process of grieving.

McGroarty emphasizes that there is no one correct path through grief or set time limit for it to last and that a variety of feelings are completely normal. As someone still mourning a loved one, I think that was my biggest comfort from this book--that my reactions and feelings were my own and a perfectly normal part of the process. This is a great resource for anyone grieving, anyone looking to help a grieving person, or anyone who wants to learn more about the processes of grief.

Part of life is the impermanence of our physical bodies. Loss is inevitable. Grief is a universal trial we all--or must of us--must meet and carry with us at some point on our journeys. And, the fact is, grief isn't something we heal from; it's something we take with us and live with...because loss is not something to just get over.

The book, SO NOW WHAT?, answers the very question I grapple with in my own grief journey. What do you do for the months and years after you've suffered impossible pain from losing a loved one? The author is such a compassionate source of wisdom and knowledge on the subject. She offers sage advice, gives space for the reader to contemplate what would work best for them, and is truly empathetic toward a subject matter that most are scared to talk about or completely ignore. I loved her chapters that discussed how to reframe my thinking on grief and loss because honestly, that's so much of the battle.

This book is not overwhelming, and that also is helpful when it comes to the subject matter. You can sit with the suggestions presented and you don't feel inundated or preached upon. I highly recommend to anyone going through loss right now, or who want to know ways to grapple with it once you do. Because the journey is never over with it. And I, for one, need to get less scared of it. This book helps.

This book is a powerful mix of information, personal experience, and advice, all presented in a straightforward but compassionate and empathetic way. I was familiar with the stages of grief, but Ms. McGroarty outlines the different ways in which grief can manifest in detail, emphasizing that her book is not a textbook on How To Grieve. It addresses the complicated question of the paradox many cultures, mostly Western, have between an obsession with death and the fear/avoidance of it, highlighting the fact that while death is obviously a universal experience, the experience of grief is not. Another valuable point was insight into recognizing the difference between a healthy if painful grieving process versus harmful behaviors and habits, and when to seek some form of help. Death and the grieving process will never be an easy or painless experience for most people, but I think it is natural to find some peace and comfort in understanding the complicated myriad ways grief can manifest.

So Now What examines grief in an honest, compassionate, and practical manner. The author, who has experienced grief herself, discusses common mistakes we make as we grieve or as we try to be there for loved ones who are grieving. She also gives practical and honest advice for healthy and helpful ways to deal with the loss of a loved one personally, for children, and for other loved ones. The guides for what is developmentally appropriate for children were excellent and just what I think I’d need for having those tough conversations with my children.

Another part of the book I found really insightful was the idea of forming a new relationship with the loved one you have lost. The idea is profound, simple, and comforting–there are so many good ideas for honoring and remembering the deceased. This book helped me to think about death and dying in a new, and perhaps more healthy and peaceful, way. I recommend it for everyone because unfortunately, we will all experience these losses at some point in our lives and this is a sincere and helpful guide for when those events occur.

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