The Rules of Inheritance: Grief Is Not Linear
By Karen Ballum on February 22, 2012
BlogHer Original Post
Relationships don't end when we say goodbye. The impact of important relationships stays with us all our lives, shaping who we are and who we will become. How do we continue when a loved one dies? How does that change who we are? These questions are the topic of Claire Bidwell Smith's memoir, The Rules of Inheritance.
Framed around the five stages of grief, the story that Bidwell Smith tells is not linear. In one section she's 24. In another she's 15 and then yet another 22. At first I wanted to flip back and forth between the sections, to arrange it linearly, but I stopped myself. I'm learning to be a better reader and to take the path that the author wants me to take. While there may be stages to grief, it does not follow that we progress between them in a linear fashion. We can go back and forth between them. If grieving is not a linear process, so why should Claire's story have to be?
The Rules of Inheritance is a book about moments rather than a story -- the moments that shape us and change us. Sometimes they are beautiful moments and other times they are dark and gritty. None of us are all darkness or light, but a combination of both. In her memoir, we see a lot of the darkness in Claire's personal narrative but in her blog, we see more the lightness.
In her darkest times, there is an edge to Bidwell Smith's voice -- a rawness. There is an element in it I recognize from few other books, most notably Amanda Boyden's Pretty Little Dirty and Stephanie Kuehnart's I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. While Bidwell Smith has written a memoir and the other two are fiction, there are times when the writing shares a gritty, truthful edge that will resonate with readers.
The Rules of Inheritance is a book for anyone who has dealt with grief. If you've lost a parent, been in a bad relationship in your 20s or felt you've lost that person you call when something bad happens, you'll recognize a shade of yourself in Bidwell Smith's writing.