What Abi taught us

A mother's struggle to come to terms with her daughter's death
Author: Lucy Hone
Book Year: 2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, NZ
ISBN: 9781877505539
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What Abi taught us

Lucy Hone’s 12-year-old daughter Abi was killed in a car accident in Canterbury in 2014. Also killed in the accident were Abi’s friend Ella and Ella’s mum Sally.

Lucy has taken every parent’s worst nightmare of losing a child and turned it into a book about how to survive an unbelievably terrible situation.

Lucy is a research academic who works in the field of resilience and wellbeing psychology, so she is more than qualified to write on the subject. But she has also lost a child in horrific circumstances, so she brings a personalised voice to the book.

She “shares her story and research so that others can work to regain some sense of control and take action in the face of helpless situations”.

Lots of practical tips and strategies

As a parent, reading a mother’s personal account of losing her daughter had me welling up several times. While this book is absolutely heart-breaking given the subject matter, it’s incredibly uplifting to know that there is hope and that there is a way to navigate through such a terrible tragedy.

The book would appeal to anyone who has faced a terrible loss or tragedy and wants to learn some practical strategies to make it through. 

The parts where Lucy talks about the pain of losing her daughter and what life is like without her are incredibly moving. What I really like about this book is that there are lots of practical tips and strategies about what you can actually do to help get through the grieving process. There’s a section called 10 tools to build resilience in which she lays out practical things to do to help with grief.

The book has 20 chapters ranging from Six strategies for coping in the immediate aftermath, to Managing exhaustion and depression through rest and exercise.

Resilience not an armour

The foreword is written by Karen Reivich, who was Lucy’s teacher in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology programme at the University of Pennsylvania. Karen writes about their shared interest in understanding the nature of resilience.

“We share a deep interest in understanding the nature of resilience… at the very core, we understand that resilience is not armour that protects us from pain. Rather, resilience enables us to feel pain (and anger, anxiety, guilt) and to move through these emotions so that we can continue to feel joy, awe and love.”

“The bottom line is this: we cannot change the past. All we can do is show up for the present and work toward the future we want. Lucy has written a moving book that will help us do just that,” she writes.

Reviewed by Maggie McNaughton, writer at Healthy Communications


What Abi taught us

Disclaimer: Please note these reviews are not intended as endorsements or recommendations from the Mental Health Foundation. This feature introduces resources that may be useful for individuals with an interest in mental health and wellbeing topics.