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Beyond the Darkness: A Gentle Guide for Living the Grief and Thriving after Loss by Clarissa Moll


“Dear reader, this is a book I never wished to write about a life I never wished to live.” So opens the introduction to Clarissa Moll’s memoir Beyond the Darkness. Moll’s husband, Rob, died while hiking with a friend in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state while Moll was down in a campsite nearby with their four children. Their life became unleashed. Three years later Moll is able to turn her sorrow into a helpful guide for others who are walking with grief.  

Early in their marriage, Moll edited Rob’s own book titled The Art of Dying. Rob wrote this book inspired by the impact of working as a caregiver as well as a funeral home attendant when he was a young adult. Conversations about death were part of their life together. And yet nothing prepared Moll for the pain of her own deep loss. This memoir is at once personal but also universal.

Moll divides her book into three parts. The first considers the ways in which our culture leaves us unprepared for the sorrows we will surely encounter—the obstacles or misguided expectations that present themselves in what might be a time of greatest need.

Moll refers to the second part as a survival tool kit. She unpacks the need for “nourishment, rest and movement,” all physical needs that are often elusive yet are so necessary in the early and sustained days of grief. Relationships with others also are an important element. Moll identifies ways in which grief might strengthen a friendship, create a new bond with someone you might not have known well, or even require distancing from a person. Here Moll also offers helpful thoughts as a parent observing and supporting her own children. 

The final section is an invitation to follow the path into what is always an unknown future. “The stories of love and of pain that shaped us are indispensable to our future,” Moll writes. She identifies the church as one of the places that is often the most difficult for a grieving person to return to again.

Moll writes from a place of deep faith and longing. She considers the Old Testament’s stories of Naomi and Job as well as the many Psalms of lament and how she has gained understanding and comfort from them. At the end of every chapter Moll offers a list of questions for the reader to ponder.

Moll’s writing style is invitational, and the layout is welcoming and easy to navigate. Moll has an active Instagram page, @mollclarissa. She is the host of Christianity Today’s Surprised by Grief podcast. (Tyndale/Momentum)

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