The Night Lake by Liz Tichenor–Book Review

Liz Tichenor, a young Episcopal priest, lost her infant son to an undetected congenital abnormality when he was only forty days old.  Less than a year before this tragic event, her alcoholic mother committed suicide.  This is the story of her navigation through grief, pain, guilt, and surrender to God, and it is ruthlessly honest.

Your grief may not be the same, and your way of coping may not be the same, but anyone who has lived through the death of loved ones will be able to identify with Liz in her struggle to understand and accept.  She managed through physical activity, the support of friends, meaningful rituals and walking through the church year.  The book ends during Lent and Easter, and Liz is able to connect her suffering with the suffering of Christ and His mother, Mary, who lost her son, too.

You’ll learn a lot about what not to say when talking to grieving friends.  Many well-intentoned responses  — “your child is now an angel in heaven” or “lucky you are young, you can have more children” simply caused Liz more pain and even anger.  There is no pat answer that comforts when a dearly loved family member dies.  The best we can say is, “this is terrible, and I’m here for you.”

One thing that bothered me about the book was the language of Liz and some of her friends.  Yes, I’m a pastor’s wife so I know we are people, too, and sometimes in the heat of the moment we say things that we shouldn’t.  However, to hear a priest use words that are crude and in some cases take God’s name in vain is unacceptable to me, particularly in a book.  This could have been easily edited out.  Am I hopelessly old-fashioned?  Maybe so.

VERDICT:  4 STARS.  Other than the occasional bad language, it was a read that captured and kept my attention, and those who are grieving will find it both realistic and hopeful.