I Promise it Won't Always Hurt Like This


18 Assurances on Grief

By: Clare Mackintosh

Published: February 2, 2024

Publisher: Sourcebooks


5 stars

Sometimes it’s bookish serendipity when a book lands in your lap at the most perfect time. I didn’t know I needed Mackintosh’s book right now, but her honest approach to grief and her realistic advice are just what I needed.

If I’m being honest, I’ve felt guilty grieving. There is so much hurt in our world, young children are dying of cancer, friends have lost their husbands, friends have lost their siblings, and people are dying much too young and too soon. I was lucky enough to have my dad in my life for 51 years. I know how special that is. But, Clare Mackintosh reminded me “loving other people doesn’t make it easier to lose someone; it simply gives you a reason to keep going.”

In her book, a much different book than her previous ones, Mackintosh writes of the debilitating grief after their five-week-old son, a twin, died from meningitis. You might know Clare Mackintosh for her compelling and thrilling crime mysteries. A former police officer, she left the force after her son died and began writing. But, writing this book never crossed her mind until she wrote this Twitter thread on the anniversary of his death in 2020 went viral and it gave her the idea for the book.

Mackintosh honestly shares the deep despair she felt after her son’s death as well as how she dealt with the death of her father. Surprisingly, grief is universal, but it is also unique to each person who is missing someone we love. So, even though I haven’t lost a child, I could still relate to her emotions and struggles.

In college, I lost two of my closest friends in separate accidents one year apart. As a newly married wife, I lost my father-in-law and seven years later my mother-in-law. As a young parent, my nephew was killed in a car accident. I’m not a stranger to grief and each loss has affected me in different ways. In December, my father passed away peacefully after 91 years of a wonderful life. Honestly, some days, I don’t even think about it, and others I’m crippled by the loss and can’t stop the tears from flowing.

“Grief was my own grim reaper, looming over happy times, reminding me how easily they could be snatched away.”

What I loved about this book is that it felt like I was having a conversation with the author. It wasn’t preachy or condescending or clinical. She shares the guilt she felt after her son died just 5 weeks after his birth, never leaving the NICU while his twin brother was living and growing. She was angry and felt like she must have done something wrong to cause his death. Her work suffered and somehow she still had to parent another child in the NICU. Mackintosh realized that she and her husband grieved differently, but both were deeply sad and struggling. She became overwhelmed with the simple tasks of life and some days had to let her grief take over. She was loved by friends and family, some who said and did the right things and others who didn’t while also knowing they meant well but infuriated her.

“…we have to give in to our emotions-sadness, anger, tearfulness-and this is equally true of happiness. Don’t analyze it, don’t try to measure or justify it. Just feel it. It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s just as okay to feel good.”

Mackintosh left nothing unsaid and had me in tears multiple times because she put into words exactly what I had been feeling. I don’t wish this experience on anyone and yet, each of us will have to grieve the loss of someone we love at some point in our life. Mackintosh’s 18 promises are a guide for the hard days ahead and remind you that the sadness doesn’t ever end, but it does get better.

“Experts can help us build a toolkit for grief, but we’re the only ones who can try each tool out and see what fits.”

If you’ve experienced a loss or know someone who has, this book will offer hope, encouragement, validation, and a way to navigate the hard days.

Clare Mackintosh is a multi-award-winning author. Her first three thrillers were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, and together have been translated into forty languages. Together, her books have spent more than sixty-five weeks in The Sunday Times bestseller lists. Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children. Check out her website, HERE.

Click HERE to purchase a copy of I PROMISE IT WON’T ALWAYS HURT LIKE THIS.

Other books by Clare Mackintosh:

Other books on grief:

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

Check out my review policy, HERE.

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