Bookworm: ‘Soulbroken’ is a guidebook through grief

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist

“Soulbroken: A Guidebook for Your Journey Through Ambiguous Grief”

  • By Stephanie Sarazin
  • c. 2022, Grand Central Publishing/Balance
  • $17.99, 304 pages

Years. It had been going on for years. Right under your nose, while you were awake, working, taking care of household things, sitting on the same sofa, your partner was cheating on you with a series of others. This is a new kind of pain that you don’t know what to do with, as author Stephanie Sarazin suggests, and in her new book “Soulbroken,” there is a path toward healing.

“Soulbroken: A Guidebook for Your Journey Through Ambiguous Grief” by Stephanie Sarazin.

It happened by accident: Stephanie Sarazin needed her husband’s laptop to print a project and while she was doing that, confirmation from a dating website dropped into one corner of the screen. Unable to help herself, she peeked, and followed a trail of years of infidelity.

She thought she was the love of her husband’s life but in a few short minutes, she learned that a good chunk of her marriage was a lie.

When there is a loss of this sort – or if the loss comes from a missing person, estrangement, dementia, or any other relationship suspension – we grieve, but not like we would a death. Sarazin calls the end of a loving relationship “ambiguous grief,” and it’s more a “grief-like purgatory.” Processing it is different because it’s trigger is different. Sufferers may experience the classic “stages” of grief but Sarazin indicates that ambiguous grief is messier.

Of course, “feeling better” is possible.

First, she says, it’s important to identify the activating event that got you to this place. Next, find intent: how are you going to proceed?

Don’t be ashamed to seek therapy or afraid to accept medication; both are tools to use on your healing path. If you get stuck, learn to work your way backward in your thoughts to find the sticking point and process it. Meditate, and start a journal so you can track your progress. Find Your People. Be patient with yourself. And finally, look for what Sarazin calls “internal hope” with a focus on life as it is, not as you thought it would be.

The premise behind “Soulbroken” is a good one: it’s meant to help the person whose grief is not linked to death, but to something with a closure that’s different or lacking altogether. This book, however, might make more of a struggle.

Author Stephanie Sarazin is thorough and her advice is presented simplistically – almost too much so, in many cases, as if a child is doing the healing work. Some readers may be put off by this; the repetition doesn’t help, either, nor does the new-ageyness, at that point.

Conversely, readers who feel as though they’re spinning in place may find a way out with the help in this book. Sarazin offers a host of ideas to try, quizzes to take, assurances, and valid suggestions that might not occur to someone in the thick of the pain.

In the end, the amount of help inside this book will depend on the tolerance of the reader. “Soulbroken” might be a balm to you – or getting to the end of it might feel like years.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.