Wav­ing Good­bye: Life After Loss 

  • Review
By – June 25, 2024

In Wav­ing Good­bye, War­ren Kozak describes his trans­for­ma­tion from mar­ried man to wid­ow after his wife, Lisa, passed away in 2018. His goal is for the book to be a can­did, hon­est, and approach­able guide to deal­ing with the death of a spouse writ­ten by a very ordi­nary guy who has lived through the ordeal.

Kozak paints an unflinch­ing­ly hon­est pic­ture of the pain and heartache he endured both dur­ing and after his wife’s ill­ness. He doc­u­ments his whole jour­ney, includ­ing his mar­riage, Lisa’s ill­ness, the after­math of her death, and the reac­tions of his friends and acquain­tances. The book con­tains short chap­ters with anec­dotes about friends who said the right thing, and those who did not. Kozak also describes tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions and meet­ings that were help­ful, and those that were less mean­ing­ful. Any­one who is expe­ri­enc­ing a loss of this mag­ni­tude may iden­ti­fy with his strug­gle to resume life.

There’s a lot of detail here, and some of it may seem famil­iar, par­tic­u­lar­ly to Jew­ish read­ers already steeped in mourn­ing tra­di­tions. We read about the shi­va ser­vice, the rabbi’s ser­mon, and who recit­ed what. Kozak tells read­ers about the paper­work he had to go through after his spouse’s death and how their accounts were orga­nized. It’s pos­si­ble that he runs through all of these details in an attempt to exor­cise his grief, to reflect on his griev­ing process, and to offer some gems of wis­dom to oth­ers along the way who may be expe­ri­enc­ing sim­i­lar losses. 

Each person’s loss, like a mar­riage, is com­plete­ly unique, so Kozak’s exact expe­ri­ences may or may not res­onate with his read­ers. But ulti­mate­ly it will remind them that in their grief, they are not com­plete­ly alone. Oth­ers have gone through it, too, and have come out the oth­er end; but because loss cre­ates fun­da­men­tal changes in one’s sense of self and iden­ti­ty, the mourn­er will come through the expe­ri­ence altered. I appear nor­mal, but I am not,” Kozak writes. I’m not sure who this new per­son is — I am still evolving.”

Lau­ren Kramer is a Van­cou­ver-based jour­nal­ist, wife, and moth­er with a life­long pas­sion for lit­er­a­ture. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she has won awards for her writ­ing and report­ed from many cor­ners of the world. Read more of her work at www​.lau​renkramer​.net.

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