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Book Review Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss, by Sid Korpi

by Therese Kopiwoda on July 7, 2011

in Book Reviews,Cats,Dogs,Pets

Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss: Personal and Professional Insights on the Animal Lover's Unique Grieving Process Losing a pet is the toughest part about loving a pet, and something we just can’t get around. The fact that they aren’t human doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. So, for many of us, me included, it can be an extremely depressing and difficult time.

Personally one of the best ways I’ve found to deal with the grief is to distance myself from people who don’t understand. And, when I need it, surround myself with those people who do get it. There have been several instances when I was told “get another one” after losing one of my pets. I tend to distance myself from those people very quickly. Fortunately though, I have people in my life who I can turn to because they totally understand the grief. (That includes many of you reading this post, who were there when I lost my cat, Tequila.)

In her book, Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss: Personal and Professional Insights on the Animal Lover’s Unique Grieving Process, Sid Korpi writes about this, and a lot of other ways to work through our grief. She shows us how to:

  • Emotionally prepare for a pet’s euthanasia and understand when it’s time
  • View death not as an ending, but (as animals see it) a natural transition
  • Cope with being around insensitive people
  • Memorialize and celebrate the pet’s life
  • Move on after loss and love again

Good Grief isn’t like other pet loss books I’ve read. Rather than the clinical, “here are the 5 stages of death” and “seek professional help if needed” Sid writes about different ways to deal with the grief and doesn’t judge anyone because of their needs or beliefs. She totally gets that we all grieve differently and need to deal with it in the way that makes most sense for us, as individuals. She takes a very gentle, understanding approach to pet loss and grief, and urges us to be kind to ourselves and find what works best.

It’s been a year and a half since I lost Tequila but there are times when I miss her terribly. So, even though it’s been a while, I felt comforted as I read Good Grief.

Every so often, I veer off the pet-focus path to make a point about something else about which I feel passionate. Oftentimes, that means plugging an independent artist like Christopher R. Mihm and his upcoming B-movie, “Attack of the Moon Zombies.” (Premiering May 25 at the Heights Theater and starring moi in the role of Administrator Ripley.)

This time, however, I want to talk (OK, rant) a bit about my own independent artist’s journey. I self-published my book “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” in 2009 and have been blessed to receive much literary acknowledgment, including three major awards—including having it be named “Book of the Year in the Self-Help Category” by Premier Book Awards, and wonderful feedback from readers on four continents but, despite this and my daily marketing efforts, I am still a couple of thousand dollars away from paying off my initial investment.

I wrote what follow below in response to an editorial included in the current Reader Views newsletter regarding authors’ expectations of reviewers, as well as in response to a recent news article about an overnight success story I allude to in this piece. I find it frustrating that we only hear of people who either fail miserably or achieve wealth and fame unaccountably easily. What about those of us who persevere, despite having been born under an impatient star, trying to get noticed in a business in which 98% of independently published books released each year will sell fewer than 350 copies over their lifetimes? (Thank goodness, I’m well past that threshold.)

I readily acknowledge there’s no glamor in the story of someone who plugs away, diligently marketing to anyone who will listen, who, despite objectively knowing what he or she has created is valid and worthwhile, never seems to be able to break through the glass ceiling to bestseller status. To all of us who devote our whole selves to nonpaying or underpaying artistic endeavors simply because our souls offer us no other choice, I say, we’re the ones who deserve a bit of recognition once in a while. It takes no particular courage or fortitude to suddenly be handed success. We workhorses shouldn’t be made to feel inferior because Oprah hasn’t slated our work to be one of her book club picks…yet, anyway.

But then again, there are those whose personal estimation of the quality of their efforts just might exceed what professional standards dictate necessary to even be in the running. In those cases, it may be wrong to blame the reviewer, society, etc. As an editor as well as an author, I’ve seen both sides of this issue, and this is what I had to say about the topic. — Sid

In response to the current Reader Views’ newsletter:

All new authors need and deserve a dose of reality. I agree that a great many writers hold fast to the fairy tale of instant success and endless royalty checks. They cite an article they read of an author who self-published an ebook, sold copies for $2 apiece and made a million dollars as if it were the norm. Like those “I lost 42 dress sizes in three months” diet ads, such stories should come with the disclaimer, “Results extraordinary. Your results will vary.”

What’s more, any time you submit your work for a review, be it by an earnest lay-reader or a seasoned so-called “pro,” you are vulnerable to the possibility of receiving a less-than-flattering review. Yes, opinions are subjective and a reviewer you’re paired with could be prejudiced somehow or simply having a bad day when your manuscript crosses his or her desk, but often what is submitted has previously only been complimented by well-meaning friends and family members who couldn’t offer objective criticism for fear of making you feel bad. Because you’ve only received accolades, you come crashing down when someone deigns to find any fault whatsoever with your work.

Developing a thick skin and realizing this “biz” is relentless in its ability to devour egos are vital BEFORE one leaps into the fray. I am award-winning author (one of which was the 2010 Reviewers Choice award from Reader Views, thank you very much!—though, ironically, my non-contest-judging Reader Views reviewer gave me one of my only four-star reviews, among dozens of five-star reviews from other sources—not to whine at all, just to show how subjective the process is).

I am also an editor with 20+ years’ experience, and part of my job is to not waste authors’ time and money by giving them false praise and/or hope. I encourage what I believe are their strengths but do not hesitate to point out weaknesses and make suggestions of how to improve those areas. Many times, I’ve had to turn away authors, pointing out that their books are just not at a level of quality at which it will pay to hire a professional for a final edit. (I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve received books from authors who demonstrated no awareness of what a complete, non-run-on sentence looks like or even how to spell CAT, and yet they’re convinced they’re ready for the New York Times Bestseller List.)

Understanding how tight money can be—I’m a starving artist myself—I advise them that they’d be much better off going to a low- or no-cost option like a community ed writing group for lots of people’s feedback as they rework their manuscript before shelling out hundreds of dollars to someone like me. I know I’m being cruel to be kind. I cannot in good conscience cash their checks until I know they have a fighting chance to compete in the marketplace. It’s my reputation on the line as a “pro.” (There’s that word again.)

Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss has been officially awarded 1st place in the 2010 Reviewers Choice Award for spirituality/inspiration!

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