book review: Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief

 Title: Aftermath, Growing in Grace Through Grief

Author: Margaret McSweeney

Publisher: New Hope Publishers

Complimentary Copy from: Litfuse Publicity Group

Rating: A

“Grief can change a life in an instant, and for many of us, grief leaves a calling card: a huge hole. A cavity. An abyss. Sometimes the remnant of our shattered lives teeters on the edge of a personal Grand Canyon. How do we regain balance? How do we regain hope? How do we rebuild? And where is God?” (pg15)


Loss is a four-letter word that grips our heart and gridlocks our lives. Grief can hold us captive until we surrender it to God. How do we find the necessary grace to journey through the mourning process? Juxtaposed to the outpouring of her mother’s words about grief, the author shares her parallel journey from the emotional abyss of grief after becoming an adult orphan. With candor, the author shares her own motions experienced along the spectrum of loss after her parents’ death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—adding interactive options for readers.

My Thoughts

Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief is a poignant memoir of a daughter’s journey through grief after the loss of both parents. Within a few short years, author Margaret McSweeney lost her father, Claude, to a heart attack and her mother, Carolyn, to an advanced form of a terminal illness. With candor and grace, McSweeney shares her journey through the emotions of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I am unable to adequately convey how tenderly McSweeney’s vulnerability comfort the heart and encourage the soul, leaving the reader feeling as if God himself has wrapped the heart in a gentle embrace.

A touching aspect of McSweeney’s memoir is the inclusion of family correspondence peppered throughout the text. Poems penned by her mother, Carolyn Rhea, along with various letters and love notes written between her parents lovingly affirm the text, drawing deeper meaning to each chapter. More so, they demonstrate a beautiful family legacy of commitment, faith, and love, pointing the reader to the promise that hope and grace carry us through the difficult times of life.

More than a memoir, Aftermath is a helpful resource. The conclusion of each chapter contains three helpful sections. “Comfort” – sharing words of encouragement and support through the Christian scriptures. “Counsel” – offers advice from experts on how to sensitively and appropriately walk alongside those in the grieving process. “Chronicling” – provides a space to process through the emotions and turbulence experienced when the foundation crumbles. I found these options to be a valuable supplement.

Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief is a beautiful memoir that will comfort and encourage any reader.

About the Author


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