Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: 'Caskets from Costco' by Kelly Wilson

Grief never ends, but it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love.’ Just one of the quotable passages from this fine book. Kelly Wilson is the humorist of the moment in literature, having written Live Cheap and Free, Don't Punch People in the Junk, Hey Who Ate the Uterus? and now Caskets From Costco. She is intelligent, a thoughtful writer and a scribe who can find humor in the most unusual circumstance or events. Like Grief, for instance.

Early on in this superb book Kelly writes, ‘It’s important to remember that while tackling the serious, spiraling nature of the grief cycle, this book is also meant to be funny. And because it’s a story about my experiences dealing with both humor and grief, there was no way to avoid writing about people who appeared in various times and places in my life. Without the friends and family contained in the pages of this book, my grief journey would've been quite boring indeed.

And a bit later, ‘When I was in college, I learned that there are five stages in order to appropriately process grief. They’re locked in my memory as the acronym “DABDA,” which stands for Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, terms coined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I bought into this concept with my whole being, interpreting the process as set-in-stone directions for grieving – a Grief Positioning System, if you will. I was going to navigate quickly and efficiently through my past trauma, happily leaving it behind me. There was nothing I wanted to do more than “Get Over IT,” whatever IT happened to be.’

Her synopsis of CASKETS FROM COSTCO outlines what we will encounter in her fine book: ‘For twenty years, I thought that I had been marching through the stages of grief in a straight line. I had been following the formula, crossing each processed grief experience off my list. Except that I was totally deluded. And I didn’t discover that until Jim, my beloved father-in-law, died. I found myself drying off from my shower the morning after his death, really hoping he couldn’t see me naked. Or, if he could, that he was averting his eyes. From that moment, my path through grief resembled a roller coaster, spiraling and twisting and turning, circling back around. Echoes of past trauma, including childhood abuse and cheating death, would no longer be ignored. I somehow needed to get from the beginning to the end of this grief adventure, and I don’t have a good sense of direction. But what is always present during a journey through grief, regardless of the path chosen? Hope.’

Read this book if you are facing a possible loss, if you need to be supportive to friends in a similar situation, or simply if you wish to discover why this young lady is rapidly becoming one of our to humorists. High Recommended. Grady Harp, April 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.