Book Review: A handbook for those dealing with loss

What you need to know:

  • She skilfully sheds light on what it is like grieving with children, sharing her own experience and through the stories of other widows.

Book title:Widows Wear Lipstick: Navigating Grief and Finding Meaning After Loss
Author: Martha T. Kyoshaba 
Price: Shs50,000
Publisher: Leap Publishers.  
Pages: 208
Where: Aristoc Booklex and Uganda Bookshop                

On a Sunday morning, Martha Kyoshaba is getting ready to go to church with her children as per custom when she receives news about the loss of her beloved husband who was set to return home that day. 

She’s thrown into a state of disarray. With no manual to navigate the loss of her spouse and father to her children, she quickly learns that grief and loss are a blanket too heavy to throw off without some form of inner will and support from loved ones. She also learns that they cannot be rushed. 

Widows Wear Lipstick: Navigating Grief and Finding Meaning after Loss is a memoir that recounts Martha’s story of the loss of her husband and how she negotiates the grief and shame of widowhood. It is not all gloom however; there is hope at the end of the grief tunnel. 

The story is interwoven with research and testimonials of other widows that the author sat down with during the writing of her memoir. The depth of insight this adds to the book is unmatched.

Throughout her story, we are shown that loss and mourning come in pairs; however, you are not expected to revel in them for too long. The author writes, “...friends expect widows to complete their grief and return to everyday life,” but, she explains, grief does not allow you to return to “normal” that easily.

Grieving with children
Martha experiences all the cycles of grief with her daughters who are having a hard time in school even though they initially seemed to be coping well.

She skilfully sheds light on what it is like grieving with children, sharing her own experience and through the stories of other widows.

She shows the vitality of parents who have manoeuvred loss openly with their children, as they tend to be forgotten during such a time.

All this allows the reader to pause and reflect on the experiences of these women and their young ones. This detail is woven into the book with such care and tenderness. I was moved and felt for Martha, her children and the other widows and their children. 

I love that the book is told through flashbacks, giving us glimpses into the past. This structure provides a beautiful, wholesome story. I also liked the research Martha did from other books on widowhood, grief and loss by notable authors. The examples and quotes from them complement the book quite well.  The tone used in the book is gentle and yet evokes heavy emotions. The reader will need to read it in moderation to avoid triggers. The language is simple and thus makes the memoir an easy and interesting read for all audiences.

The author is a brilliant storyteller whose writing is crisp, emphatic and keeps you yearning for more. It is inviting for a discourse on taboo topics like widowhood, cultural expectations, shame and grief. 

Dealing with loss
Are you always tongue-tied when a friend or loved one experiences a loss of a spouse, child, or parent? This memoir acts as a handbook for those grappling with what to say and what not to say, and what to do and what not to do when around people going through loss.

We as a people are not equipped to manoeuvre these states and emotions that come with them, because we do not openly talk about them, which is why the book is a refreshing read, as Martha readily and candidly shares the things she grappled with during the grieving process.

Martha’s voice is authoritative on a subject that she has experienced first-hand and that has little to no literature on the Ugandan market.

Widows Wear Lipstick is an open invitation to all widows, widowers and those that love them, to talk openly about loss, shame, widowhood and all questions that arise when loss occurs. Will you accept the invitation?