Book Review: Second Firsts by Christina Rasmussen

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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9181_c1.gifSecond Firsts

by Christina Rasmussen
ISBN 978-1-4019-4083-6
Hay House, Inc., 2013

Over the past five years or so, several people close to me lost spouses due to death or divorce. From my position at one degree of separation, I watched them discover their individual paths to “second firsts.” Each person took a different route and a different amount of time, but all their paths shared similar obstacles and milestones.

“Grief walked into your heart and created room for your soul to grow.” Christina Rasmussen in Second Firsts

I recognized these same obstacles and milestones in Christina Rasmussen’s experience of loss and her recommendations for recovery. In her mid-30s, Rasmussen lost her husband to colon cancer. Much of the book content related back to her own personal experiences with grief and life rebuilding, so her stories will resonate with anyone recovering from a disrupted relationship.

Anyone starting over after any kind of life change will find her book helpful though, because her themes resonated with me in other ways, too. I experienced the same fear, frustration and exhilaration when I left my career behind to become a stay-at-home mother. That was a “second first” for me. And I realized that a reluctance to let go is brewing inside me now as my children grow and lead more independent lives: when my home becomes an “empty nest,” I will create yet another new life—a “third first.”

“Launching a new life is a strategic, active process. It doesn’t happen by accident. . . . If they are operating in the default mode of the old self, they will continue to experience the pain of resistance. This pain should not be mistaken for grief. It’s like trying to put on clothes you used to wear comfortably, which no longer fit you.” —Christina Rasmussen in Second Firsts

Most people are familiar with the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross book On Death and Dying and her theory of the five stages of grief. Rasmussen’s book builds on that theory, offering a how-to guide on re-creating life even as people walk through the five phases of grief. She breaks it down into five “Life Reentry Stages”: Get Real, Plug In, Shift, Discover, and Reenter Life. Her five stages encourage mindful reflection of emotions and circumstances and step-by-step “plugging in” to new activities. Gentle but persistent progress ensures that mourners don’t get stuck in the “Waiting Room” of grief, immobilized by fear and a reluctance to let go of no-longer-appropriate “clothing.”

“It’s important not to resist grieving. But distinguish between true mourning and the repetition of loss. Repetition of loss is a natural, albeit ultimately unhealthy, practice of going over the whys , the hows, and the if onlys of your past long after a loss has occurred.” Christina Rasmussen in Second Firsts

From my position at one degree of separation from profound loss, I found this book comfortable reading. I think those with a recent, raw experience of grief would find it difficult to face immediately. They might need to set the book aside for a time until they are ready to start the first Life Reentry Stage. But if you need to re-create a new life, for whatever reason, this book provides encouragement and guidance. If you know someone stuck in the “Waiting Room,” maybe this book will nudge them to begin their second first life.

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I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on October 30, 2013, in Book reviews, Books provided by publishers, Hay House, Non-fiction, Self-Help and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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