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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Voices of the Grieving Heart by Mike Bernhardt is a compilation of work that allows a reader to meditate through the words of others during a time that is often the most difficult of our short lives. This is, of course, the grieving process following the death of someone we love. Bernhardt has carefully constructed this book with pieces contributed by other writers and artists, a collaboration that provides a range of touching entries that, in one form or another, readers of all backgrounds can connect with. Broken down into eight sections, Bernhardt gives readers poetic solace with pieces such as Dixie Pines' heartbreaking ode to suicide in How So?, to Maggie Jackson's My Next Love, which depicts the defiant desire to love freely against the unrealistic determination to never feel pain again.
I had to set Voices of the Grieving Heart aside for the whole of last week. I was still too raw to approach it and as I curled up in bed, it was my husband who started to read it out loud to me. Mike Bernhardt gave me a soothing ointment for the soul, and I am grateful for it. The artwork is gorgeous, with several pieces of photography by Cassandra English being the standouts. The sheer volume of contributors is mind-boggling with the original headcount eclipsing eighty-three. It's a tribe of individuals coming together as a collective in solidarity and in grief, but also in hope. It is permission to take all the time and space necessary to accept life, moving forward with a chunk of your heart missing, but also a bit of hand-holding so you know that when you are ready, there are others willing to listen. This is a beautiful anthology of work and I imagine many will find solace in its beautiful effort to help heal.