The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

I skimmed this after the first 40 pages. The book itself is such a visceral immersion in the disorientation of grief that I had to read it lightly. To have a woman's perspective on such an immediate and devastating loss as she experienced (her husband died while her recently-married daughter was in the hospital, in a coma) is a good thing. I admire the way Didion grapples with her own experience of aging, as the loss of her husband suddenly makes her realize that she has been seeing herself as the age she was when they met all these years, because that is how he saw her.

She documents her own reading about the medical science of grief as she is grieving, which makes this interesting reading for those of us in LIS. Any of us who are used to doing research when we need a lifeline can understand what Didion is doing as she seeks to sort the true reflections of her experience from the absurd, and reads to know when she will recover. At one point, she reads that loss is most devastating if the surviving person was "unusually dependent on" the one who died. Didion questions how this can be construed as pathological: "Unusual dependency (is that a way of saying 'marriage?'...."