When Bad Things Happen to Good People
by Harold S. Kushner

This is an old book, first published in 1981, but still one of the very best in dealing with loss - especially the sense of unfairness that accompanies many of the losses we face. Rabbi Kushner writes out of his own painful experience in coping with the fact of learning that his three-year-old son would die in his early teens of a rare disease. He faced and lived through this worst-of-all-losses. In writing the book, he wanted to give to others who have been hurt by life (by death, illness or injury, rejection or disappointment) and who know in their heart that they deserve better.

This is a very personal book for me - because I read it out loud to my own Mother a few years before she died (in 1988). She had adult-onset diabetes and suffered every indignity associated with that disease, including blindness (and eventually dying with gangrene). She was a "good" woman - and understandably felt a huge sense of "unfairness" at her years of suffering. Nothing seemed able to soothe the pain from this sense of unfairness—which in many ways was even worse than the actual situation. It wasn't until I read this book to her that she felt some relief from the intensity of that extra burden.

A quote about this book appropriately sums up my own recommendation: "A touching, heart-warming book for those of us who must contend with suffering, and that, of course, is all of us."

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