A work of non-fiction that touched VERY close to home more than once, "Goodnight Dear" by Darren Humphries is "The Unsentimental Diary of a Bereaved Husband", as the subtitle says.
It really is Darren Humphries diary and covers one whole year, starting with the day he gets a call from his son's school because his wife has not come to pick up the boy, and he arrives home to find her dead in bed.
One reason why I wanted to read this book was that, on Nov. 5th 2009 (it was a Thursday), I came home from work and found my husband dead on the floor in our living room.
Exactly like with Darren Humphries' wife, there had been no warning signs, no known illness or anything; both his wife and my husband have, by all appearances, died very quickly and peacefully enough not to have even had time to feel pain or fear, and in both cases, the cause remains somewhat vague to this day.
It's the way everyone would like to go: with no prolonged painful illness, decaying of body and mind; instead just like that, in the blink of an eye, right out of the middle of a life we are happy with. For those left behind, it's a different story; they need to somehow cope with the effects of the death of someone so close to them, totally out of the blue, and so hard to understand.
The author describes in a highly readable way - he never presses the emotional keys he could easily press and make you cry while reading - what happens that day, the next day, and the day after that, and the weeks and months following his wife's death. He describes his own reactions, how his children deal with having lost their mother, the reactions of his relatives, colleagues, neighbours and friends. There are also the formalities to deal with, legal and financial stuff, some of which is rather complicated; sometimes the people he encounters during these procedures are kind and helpful, while at other times he gets angry and frustrated with them for good reason.
An element of the book I very much liked were the letters people wrote to Darren when learning of his wife's death. Some of these are very touching. And the concept of making the diary last for one year, completing the circle, so to speak, is very good. It covers all aspects of life after such a loss; the children's birthdays, school activities, work, holidays, Christmas and New Year, visiting relatives and so on.
At the end of the book, I still felt sad for Darren and his children, but I was also optimistic about their future. I do wish them all my best, and I think I will leave a message on his blog.