Cover Image: Good Grief

Good Grief

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Member Reviews

Thank you Francesca from Harper Collins for sending me this book directly!

"When we open our hearts to animals, death is the inevitable price."

E.B. Bartels’ really did her research on this! I learned a lot about pet death, including how people chose cloning and taxidermy as an option. *I didn’t know you could clone a pet and that it costs $50k.*

I loved how Bartels’ takes us through different traditions and cultures from Egypt, Japan, and America. I love how people are the same across cultures when it comes to losing a pet even if there are differences in how we deal with them. Not only did I learn a lot, but we also get to read about Bartels’ experience with loving and losing pets. You won’t leave this book tear free, specifically if you've lost a pet too but this definitely is very validating. I recommend this quick yet informative read for any pet or animal lover! I highlighted quite a few different passages/quotes but the one below really spoke to me as I could relate and when I was going through my own loss - I felt very alone.

"Just because an animal is gone, even if its death is long in the past, that doesn't mean that pet isn't part of you. It doesn't mean that the experience of having that pet didn't profoundly change you, or make your life better, or help you become a stronger, happier person. And even if it's been six years, thirteen years, a whole lifetime, those animals still deserve to be honored and remembered."

Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book! I'm happy to have had it sent my way.
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256 pages

4 stars

Having loved and lost several pets in my long life, I was reluctant to choose this book. I didn’t want to bring all that grief back to the forefront of my mind. But I chose it anyway. To my surprise, it helped soothe the pain of loss. I kept thinking fondly of the pets I had lost (not without a tear or two), but I also remembered the good times. The times we had fun and the unconditional love they provided me. 

I still feel sad, but also I’m glad I read the book. I strongly recommend it. 

I want to add that I think my favorite pet cemetery is the one in Japan where the author witnessed the ceremony. I thought that was beautiful. 

The book contains a bibliography for those who want to further explore the subject. 

I want to thank NetGalley and Harper Collins/Mariner Press for forwarding to me a copy of this very informative book for me to read and review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.
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This review will go live on The Wellesley News in the next few weeks! I'll update my NetGalley review with the link once it's up.
The first time I met E.B. Bartels ’10, she was guest lecturing in my first year writing class. I had just gotten the idea for “Dear Wendy” a cool two days prior, having sent my first shaky queries to literary agents for a now-shelved project. (Yes, I dug up my WRIT 144 syllabus to see exactly when her guest lecture was.)
And there E.B. was, ten years out from Wellesley, with a whole book deal with HarperCollins, telling our class about how to be better writers. She literally could not have been cooler. 
E.B. and I have talked a number of times since then, sharing stories of the publishing industry as she’s neared publication. A year and a half after that guest lecture (that I barely remember), I’ve finally gotten to read the book in question: “Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter.” It’s far from my usual tastes — I rarely read nonfiction, and the only pet I’ve ever had was a fish. And yet, this is one of my favorite reads of the year.
Part memoir, part research and wholly filled with both heart and humor, “Good Grief” explores the experience of losing a pet and the human connection it brings. Across cultures and time, people have mourned their pets in a lot of different ways, and through interviews with experts and regular people, as well as in personal anecdotes, Bartels weaves together tales of dead pets and the humans who grieve them. 
I’m not quite sure what I expected going into this book, but it’s oddly fitting that “Good Grief” is what it is. Bartels has cared for lots of pets over the years, and as we read chapters on how different people grieve their pets, information is sprinkled with anecdotes about all of Bartels’ own dead pets. 
From a guinea pig that wouldn’t stop biting to a tortoise who escaped a backyard to Bartels’ two family dogs, stories about all these dead (or not — who knows if the tortoise is actually still kicking it) pets brought me to giggles and to tears and sometimes both. I particularly felt a sense of connection with a story about a betta fish named Wanda shared by Bartels’ first year triple at Wellesley. 
(You might guess already that the fish died, but I’ll save the cause of death for readers of “Good Grief.” All I’ll say is that it felt like a very Wellesley way to die, if that makes any sense.)
I had absolutely no idea there were so many ways that people deal with the loss of their pets. I suppose I knew that you could taxidermy a dog or sneak a dog’s ashes into a person’s coffin, but as I was shown more and more paths a grieving human could take, I felt awed by the diversity of pet mourning possibilities.
Now, of course this is a biased review. I won’t even pretend that it’s not; I know E.B., after all. But take this as a recommendation anyway: “Good Grief” is a fantastic read, whether you’re an avid animal enthusiast or haven’t even owned a single fish. I think I want to get a dog now.
“Good Grief” comes out on Aug. 2, 2022. I received an early copy from the publisher, Mariner Books (an imprint of HarperCollins), in exchange for an honest review. Also, if the College doesn’t get E.B. to do a book signing on campus, I will riot.
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I knew when I requested this book that it would be a hard read for me. I'm nearly at the one year anniversary of the loss of my beloved Savannah, the dog in my profile picture, and while I've been down this road quite a few times throughout my life, for some reason the loss of her has hit so much harder and I've not managed to move past the sharp knife of early grief. I originally read this book in April, but found I needed to take some space and reread it a month later when I was a bit more prepared for what was coming.

Bartels takes us on a trip through the lives of her past pets while simultaneously taking us on a current tour of pet cemeteries and memorials of all types in order to discuss and understand the different ways that people have mourned and honored the loss of their companion animals. It is touching and heartbreaking and a labor of love. I can see how it might also be comforting to know that others have felt the same way, but in finding myself overwhelmed in my personal grief still, I wasn't quite able to experience that. In the end, the passion and respect and love of animals shines through, making this an important read for anyone who loves animals.

My thanks to Mariner Books, the author, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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"Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter", by E.B. Bartels, is all about the privilege of owning a pet and the heartbreak of losing them. Bartels is very open and candid about his own pets and the pain he's experienced. I appreciate his candor, and the reminder of what a wonderful thing it is to love and by loved by an animal.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.
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I wrote this book and I am very proud of it. I spent almost a full decade researching and writing it, and I hope that through sharing my own stories about grieving my own dead pets and hearing about the ways that other people have mourned their animals both in the present day and throughout history, fellow pet owners will know that they are not alone in their feelings. Thank you so much for reading.
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This book is such a joy and a comfort to read. I truly can’t wait until it’s out because I’m going to give a copy to every single person I know. For real.
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Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter, by EB Bartels, is a phenomenal work that every pet owner should read. It is informative and educational, but more important is that all of that information is for the mental AND emotional well-being of the reader/pet owner.

I am, like many pet lovers, a hard griever. Almost all of the things in this book Bartels is trying to get us to understand and cope with I have experienced: guilt, blame, sadness, anger, everything. This book didn't just make me better understand what I can do for my pets but also what I need to do for myself as well.

I saw the comparisons with Caitlin Doughty and I think they are accurate. How we honor our pets in the moment as well as how we honor and remember them going forward is important, yet just as important is our understanding that what is right for me might not be right for you. And there is nothing wrong with that. Like a couple she interviews in the book, I have a shelf with ashes, toys, collars, photos, etc. I know people who simply can't do that, they have their own ways of memorializing their pets. I probably talk to that shelf as much as I talk to my current pets, and definitely more than I talk to other humans!

If this review seems to be as much about me as it is the book, that illustrates the strength of the book. You will personalize what this book offers you. While you tear up over some stories, and learn a lot of interesting information, you will also be looking back at your former pets, forward at your current and future pets, and most assuredly at yourself, the thread that connects all of them. You will likely relive some sad moments but you will come away from it with a better understanding and a lot less guilt. 

I highly recommend this for any pet owner, past, present, or future. Like so many who own multiple pets, one of mine is enjoying her last days. I have to pick her up because she can't walk well, I have to express her bladder most of the time, but she is alert, attentive, still pays attention to everything around her, and still offers her sly grin. I am doing my best, she knows it, and this book has helped me to enjoy these moments with less guilt.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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I requested this title,  "Good Grief",  the day after putting my beloved kitty to sleep - and I was pretty wrecked.  I found it a quick read, and there was perhaps a few pages and some content that I needed to skim, but overall this look at pet loss with all it's details and research seemed to help me at least stop blubbering.  I may refer to it again.  Well written and researched - highly recommend to all who love our pets, because we all know or will, the heartache that comes at the end.  My most sincere thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for approving me for the complimentary DRC at a very crucial time.  RIP mama's sweet boy...
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I read this after losing two of my very loved cats in less than four months of each other. One was my 14 year old cat due to an unexpected and sudden illness, and the other was my 4 month old kitten in a very traumatic sudden loss. 

I was completely heartbroken and wrecked with grief. I actually read this against advice, everyone told me it would be too soon, but I did anyway. 

I read in small steps, so I could truly absorb the writing. Slowly, these words have helped me to heal. I cried many times during my reading. There is beauty to this writing, it has so much reverence to our pets who have crossed over before us. It helps you to navigate through the grief and heal your sorrow. 

Thank you to the publisher, E.B. Bartels, and Netgalley for the chance to read and review this arc in exchange for my honest thoughts.
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An important addition to grief and death studies. A recommended first purchase for all general nonfiction collections.
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As someone who has a very loved senior dog, this book felt like a great comfort as I try to imagine life without him when the inevitable day comes.
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