The Weight of Emptiness
by Patricia Elliot
Westwood Books Publishing

"Those who have shared with me their stories of loss have told me that writing their experience has helped them and brought some comfort."

Elliot’s work is a painstakingly raw and authentic glimpse into embracing loss and grieving but ultimately channeling that hurt into something positive. Far too many people lose a loved one and then become mired in a lose-lose game of “what if.” As it is said, hindsight is 20/20, and Elliot uses the platform of her book to simultaneously show the vulnerable mother Patricia Elliot, who has lost her young son to suicide, and the other Patricia Elliot, who has learned to be resilient in spite of her pain. Above all else, this is a highly relatable roadmap about losing a loved one.

In many ways, each time a reader opens the book, the memory of Elliot’s son, Bruce, comes alive. Though she acknowledges that her children were averse to the idea of publishing Bruce’s trials and tribulations, the end product has been nothing short of a spectacular, albeit gut-wrenching rendition of what it means to be human. Of course, as a mother, Elliot replays the moments in her mind that became her son’s lifetime highlights, yet she makes a point to release herself of the guilt that inevitably gnaws away at the survivors.

The narrative encompasses a spectrum of emotions, from the immediate shock and grief of seeing the body of her departed son in his apartment to an evolution of understanding that human life should always be celebrated in life and in death. Whereas the first half functions as a memoir and overall biography of sorts, the second half clearly delineates the myriad of resources available to those tormented by the loss they have experienced. Among various strategies, audiences will become privy to the benefits of support groups, working toward acquiring a positive mindset, and a litany of relaxation techniques. Further, Elliot shares these strategies from the vantage point of her own experiences. She truly practices what she preaches.

Digging deeper, Elliot explores mental health and the multitude of stigmas associated with it with a vigorous determination to shatter the myth that one needs to look ill on the outside to be feeling broken on the inside. In fact, she shares how Bryce’s ability to thwart any real help from mental health practitioners and routinely “outsmarting” healthcare professionals is far more common than one might believe.

As much as one may feel guilt at moving forward with their life while their loved one no longer can, Elliot suggests that pursuing a meaningful existence is the ideal way to keep their memory alive. She is emphatic in stating that an individual need not simply be expected to act as if everything is okay, but at the same time, tangible steps need to be taken in order to move forward. After the end of the narrative portion, the author welcomes readers in for an even more personal experience by sharing her son’s final letter before committing suicide, as well as words and poetry from Bryce’s friends and peers. Whether through sharing the pictures that encapsulate Bryce’s life or the ones that showcase a budding career as an actor, photographer, and writer, Elliot lets audiences enter her safe space in ways few authors can, creating a riveting read that will inevitably tug at the heartstrings.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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