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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
A Dirty Word Called Grief by A.P. Bastian is a deeply moving book of poetry about grief in all its colors--dark, light, and the middle grey. The author takes the plunge into what is still sometimes a taboo subject: Grief. Anyone who has lost someone knows what grief is, yet it's so seldom talked about honestly. Sometimes it's an emotion to be rushed through, denied, or ignored. But as Bastian's poems show, grief is a lot of emotions rolled into other emotions--sometimes pretty ones; sometimes crude ones. For example, when your lover dies, can you rage at God or are you supposed to suppress it and put on a mask of pious politeness? Tears are fine, the blues are expected, but what about the other emotions? What about fear? Fear of being alone, of feeling insecure, of doubting yourself? Or what if you are numb? Or don't feel anything at all? This author isn't afraid to do a deep dive into one of the most painful experiences anyone can have.
Instead of platitudes, A.P. Bastian invites you to make a friend of grief and death. Instead of trying to push grief away, allow it to happen. This book takes you to places beyond grief that most don't want to go, or think it's too morbid to go, but it takes you there anyway. You may find yourself cringing or losing your breath in some parts. The descriptions of decomposition and other biological factors are blunt but true. It's okay, it's helpful in some cases. You can put the book down and come back later, or not at all. But Bastian is trying to help the reader understand death and grief in a comprehensive way so that you can have an objective, intellectual grasp of it, along with the emotional one. Will this help you in your grieving process? It could. It could be better than the other ways you've been viewing death and grief. I appreciate the cynicism that could perfectly be labeled irreverence. But there are lighter, sweet moments too, so these poems really do cover a wide array of experiences, from crying, to feeling hopeful, to wanting to die just to be with your lost loved one again. A Dirty Word Called Grief by A.P. Bastian isn't for everyone, but if you want to see grief in a different light, for yourself or someone else, give it a chance.