Pup Flanagan comes from a big family. He’s the youngest of eight kids, and with all of his in-laws, future in-laws, nieces, and nephews, there’s 28 of them.
But one of them is gone. Lost. Dead.
Almost almost three years prior to the start of Sorry For Your Loss, Pup’s brother Patrick died of meningitis. Since then, one of the three beds in the upstairs attic of the Flanagan boys’ room remains empty. Patrick’s picture on the wall has been replaced with a drawing of a cherub instead.
Every Sunday, all the members of the Flanagan family gather for dinner. But still, there’s that missing piece.
Pup finds himself on the verge of failing studio art, a class he needs to graduate next year. Although he doesn’t care much about his grades, he still wants to graduate. Encouraged by his teacher to try photography as a last ditch effort to save his grade, Pup takes a solitary picture of his brother Luke that begins to change his life.
Sorry For Your Loss is much-needed voice in the YA genre. Here’s the thing about grief: you don’t move on. Moving on isn’t possible especially when the loss is so sudden and so horrendous.
And not everyone grieves the same way. There are those that find safe ways to cope and deal with the grief. But others turn to destructive ways.
Because this isn’t a review that will be seen by a publisher, I feel the freedom to share this here. Content warning for infant death and suicidal ideation from this point forward.
4 years ago, my 2.5 month old nephew died unexpectedly. He had a brain tumor, unknown to anyone until those final 36 hours. I remember everything about that final day. There have been nights where it won’t stop playing in my head.
A month after his funeral, I couldn’t stand the grief anymore. Everything was too much. And so I went to figure out how to end my life. THANKFULLY, I was stopped.
But for the next year, I spent more time suicidal than not. My mother, she joined grief share groups and became fascinated by butterflies because they reminded her of her grandson. And when the second grandson was born, my father was too afraid at first to get to know this grandchild, afraid that we’d lose him too. As for my sister-in-law and brother, the parents, their grief was private. We said his name. We remembered him. We missed him. But we didn’t talk. The second Thanksgiving without him (despite never having a first Thanksgiving with him), the fractured lines were all over our family. They still are there.
Grief is not linear. It has no end point.
But it is survivable.
And that’s what Sorry For Your Loss does so well. It shows so perfectly what happened within my family, albeit a different story. People grieve in different ways. And sometimes, grief is destructive. But through it all, grief is survivable.
Sorry For Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley is absolutely wonderful and completely nails it.
Sorry For Your Loss is available now.
Barnes & Noble