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Secular Writer Describes Her Grief

In her book The Year of Magical Thinking, author Joan Didion tries to make sense of her world after the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne. Didion marvels at the capacity of grief "to derange the mind," that is, to throw its victims into a mode of irrationality. They cannot think and live as though the person they loved is really dead. Surely there has been some mistake of diagnosis or identity "I was thinking as small children think," she writes, "as if my thoughts or wishes had the power to reverse the narrative, change the outcome."

One day Didion was clearing the shelves of her husband's clothes, putting them in stacks to give away to thrift shops. But she couldn't bring herself to give away his shoes. "I stood there for a moment, then realized why: he would need shoes if he was to return."

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