Gone Before

A Grief Journey in Poems

Poetry - Inspirational
110 Pages
Reviewed on 01/04/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Gone Before: A Grief Journey in Poems by Ruth Fanshaw is a collection of the author's poetry written to process the depth of heartache that comes when we lose someone close to us. In Fanshaw’s case, the loss was her mother, and the verses she composed come from a daughter in mourning. Fanshaw organizes the works into four distinct and interconnected parts, which she labels as tasks. These incorporate primary themes within their respective sections that include, but are certainly not limited to, acceptance, working through the pain, adjusting to life without your loved one, and connecting to the lost while moving forward. All told, Fanshaw has collated nearly four dozen poems that range in tone, tenor, length, and style.

My mother was only 43 years young when she died, and her loss is something that I feel in some measure every day and acutely during certain times of the year. I share this to make the point that it does not matter how far from the date of the loss you are or if you are preparing for the inevitable, Gone Before by Ruth Fanshaw is an acknowledgment of the pain. It is a horrible boat to be in, but we are not in it alone. As I write this review, it is Christmas Eve and I am most touched by the poem Pain Again, which reminds us that there will be moments when even a distant loss will feel raw and new. Gone Before is a beautifully composed validation of the heart, an especially important show of solidarity, and one I would give a whole bucket of stars if I could. I very highly recommend this collection.

Pikasho Deka

Grief is a universal human emotion often connected to the loss of a loved one; depending on the relationship, it can affect people to varying degrees. In Gone Before: A Grief Journey in Poems by Ruth Fanshaw, she recounts her journey to acceptance and healing after the tragic loss of her mother. Ruth's mother lived with her for six years before her death in 2020. Over the last two years, she wrote some beautifully crafted poetic verses to channel her grief. This mesmerizing collection of poems delves into the transformative process of navigating the loss of a loved one. She also touches upon Worden's four tasks of mourning, which include accepting the reality of loss, working through the pain, adjusting to a world in which the lost one is gone, and embarking on a new life.

Gone Before is a heart-wrenching poetry collection that covers all the facets of grief and the subsequent journey to acceptance and healing. Through combining freestyle verses and traditional rhyming stanzas and strophes, Ruth Fanshaw provides readers with a genuine account of her experiences trying to overcome the grief of losing her mother. Despite the unifying underlying theme, each poem brings a distinct flavor to the narrative and offers unique insight into the human psyche relating to grief. Fanshaw also includes relevant information for every included poem. Near the end, Gone Before contains a heartfelt eulogy to her mother that anyone who has ever lost a loved one will relate to. It is an inspiring poetry collection that I will highly recommend.

Diana Lopez

Ruth Fanshaw had a close relationship with her mother, and when her mother passed on she went through pain that had to be overcome before she could reach acceptance. This collection of poems is a depiction of that inner healing process. Gone Before: A Grief Journey in Poems is dedicated to a loved one and shares the meaningful experiences of the author. It is also aimed at helping others conquer their moments of grief. Ruth divides her poems into four categories: to accept loss, to work with the grief, to adjust to change, and to prepare to continue a new life. She went through these stages herself. The process was not easy, but she continued with her life and persevered. She discusses her feelings and reminds us that it is helpful to remember both the good and bad times.

Gone Before is an excellent book that will inspire readers to reflect on life. Most of Ruth Fanshaw's poems are free verse, so the content is more descriptive and unrestricted. Other verses follow a more traditional melodic structure and highlight emotions. Another interesting aspect is that at the end of some of her poems, she adds comments to provide a better context for her experiences. In those notes, she explains her feelings and, in some cases, refers to the Bible. In conclusion, Ruth adds a valuable section of recommended resources that focus on coping with the pain of loss. This selection of poems shows that a sense of grief may remain, but love and fond memories will always prevail.

Edith Wairimu

Ruth Fanshaw documents her grieving and healing process after losing her mom with her brave collection of poems in Gone Before: A Grief Journey in Poems. The work’s format is based on psychologist J. William Worden’s model which explains the process of grief in the form of four tasks: to accept the reality of the loss, to work through the pain of the grief, to adjust to a world in which the loved one is missing, and to find an enduring connection with the loved one and embark on a new life. The poems in the collection are grouped according to these tasks. They explore Fanshaw’s thoughts and emotions from when her mother falls ill and is hospitalized to her passing and the period that follows. Sadness, hope, yearning, grief, and gratitude for the moments she spent with her mother feature in the collection.

Gone Before is an uplifting companion for anyone experiencing grief after the loss of a loved one. I loved that the poems can be read relative to the stage or aspect of grief that one is experiencing. Ruth Fanshaw’s relationship with her mother is beautifully portrayed in the collection. I loved the work’s imagery and found the poems moving. I appreciated the messages of hope and healing and that the grieving journey is not rushed. Each emotion is also aptly captured. Fanshaw’s powerful poetry shows that hope can be present even in the face of despair. It is a wonderful gift for anyone experiencing grief.

Ana-Maria Leasa

Gone Before: A Grief Journey in Poems by Ruth Fanshaw is a collection of 52 poems. They are divided into four categories that explore a wide range of emotions. The order in which the poems are arranged represents the four stages of grief and mourning that the author discovered after reading the work of psychologist J. William Worden. The emotions portrayed in the poems are predominantly related to the passing of the author’s mother. Loss, pain, and grief are some of the main topics that recur throughout the book. Most of the poems don’t have a specific rhyme or rhythm, resulting in a free verse format.

One of the aspects that I liked about Gone Before by Ruth Fanshaw is the author’s willingness to show us, through her poetry, the fragile side and the moments of pain and loss in her life. Her purpose is healing and helping others who have experienced similar situations. Most people choose not to share their feelings and may not understand the stages they are in. I also liked the soft and simple language that carried strong emotions and meaning with every word, as in the poem 18th of June, which made me so sad but at the same time more appreciative of the precious people in my life. The author also deals with themes such as love and healing, such as in the poem Daylight, where the touch of death fades away with time, making room for the light.