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Grieving is a Lot Like Dealing with Acne

Grieving is a lot like dealing with acne.

There’s a lot of advice floating around on treating acne, not much of it works. You can use make-up to hide the miserable little zits, but they still show. No two people are hit by the same kind of acne, nor even at the same age. And then, just as suddenly as it hits you, it withdraws.

(None of this is to belittle the grieving process, just give it some perspective. Tell myself, this too shall pass. It may not be as harmless as acne, but it too shall pass. Promise.)

Down the years, I’ve lost relatives and friends to the grim reaper, as is only natural. Each time, I’ve taken shelter in books. Books are always the best. They don’t fumble about with ‘the-right-thing-to-say-under-the-circumstances’, they neither court nor avoid you. They usually take your mind off things, and you can put one down and pick another if it doesn’t do its job. As easy as you please.

These last weeks, I’ve read “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, and am now into  “In One Person” by John Irving. All very different books, with very different themes, but very strong, unsettling voices, which have kept me from thinking how unsettled I personally am.

What books have you been reading lately? Any suggestions for some out-and-out funny, laugh-out-loud books? I think I need to get me one of those next.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Ankur Vohra says:

    True said. Books are our best friends and advisors for those situations, where we need some sound company and advice. Try reading catch 22 if you haven't already will surely bring a smile to your face. God Bless!

  • When it's time we can't stop…neither ask them not to leave…
    One part of life is sheer happiness…the other revolves round grieve!

  • avirandom says:

    Nice Post. Speaking of funny books, have you tried Inscrutable American? Trust me, its very funny

  • Nice analogy. Sun or moon, I always cherish cuddling my books. 'The Man' by Irving Wallace was the book that gave me a sort of courage to face life. It instilled in me a mind-set of going with life no matter how many skies are falling around me. I still read the book whenever I feel blue.

  • KT Did says:

    It helps us to think of other things sometimes.
    visiting on the A-Z Road Trip

  • sandrabranum says:

    Take the time to grieve or it will fester and hurt more in the long run. Regards, Sandra

  • Mina Lobo says:

    First, ((((((((((Damyanti)))))))))).

    Second, books:

    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

    Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson

    The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

    Brilliant analogy, BTW. An insupportable aspect of grief is that it bloody well lingers. I wish I could pop grief as easily as I can pop a zit. It's painful in the moment but resolves itself soon after. Unlike grief. Damn it.
    Some Dark Romantic

  • Grieving. An interesting process indeed, as it depends completely, on who it is that has passed and where, exactly, they fit into your life. I have two blogs that I write. The older of the two has evolved into a "fly on the wall of my life" sort of affair. The last two posts on that blog were a sharing of the eulogy I wrote for my mother and the other, a remembering the sweet/sad/funniness of the guy who was my first everything and died at age 27 in a motorcycle accident. It would have been his birthday a few weeks back. I find that when I grieve, I am compelled to dive into something that is the opposite of death. Ala Woody Allen, my opposite of death is probably sex. There isn't really another topic that is quite the full-on celebration of life and humanity and reading about, talking about or getting your arms about, sex is like hitting Control-Alt-Delete on your life to bring up the menu of what your running through your head and heart at the moment. When you can see it, you can make a choice about how you want to handle it. Conversely, you can't see it when you are it. Thinking back on my friend and all the court & spark of it, I went to author, Kristen Ashley's silly, hot, storytelling of the Rock Chick- seven book saga. I have enough intellectual fois gras to kill me in my every day life. What I really needed was something to remind me about friends, ridiculous situations and super hot electricity and that, Ashley delivers in spades. Maybe it's not for everyone, but laughing and remembering that I am alive are very good medicine for what ails me.

    If you want to read my "fly" blog, check out
    My author blog is

  • Sometimes we need a little distraction from another world to help us through the tough times. Not sure what to say about the acne reference, but I did enjoy this post.

  • Yeah I agree. Often, escape is the best thing.

    Can't really think of a funny book I've read recently, although I've read some stunningly beautiful books these past few weeks. The Little Princess is a classic I only got to recently, but it's really beautiful. Not funny, but deeply touching.

  • LinWash says:

    THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY. Lovely, lyrical, funny, heartbreaking, wonderful.

  • Great analogy, Damyanti. Books have been my go-to for a variety of situations and I can so understand what you mean.

  • It's funny how we're drawn to the books that relate to what we're going through personally. Which means that I don't have any comedic books to offer you, but books on dealing with the drama of a teenage daughter? I could recommend some great ones. LOL.

  • Sarah says:

    I'd never thought of grief being like acne before – something new to ponder. I still get almost as many spots now in my forties as I did as a teen – some things just never go away…

    My husband died two and a half years ago and I still find it hard to finish reading a whole book. I get bored easily and just can't concentrate. Sometimes life is just too short!

    Writing seems to work better for me as a way of escape. I started a blog two weeks after Andrew died. Here's my post about my ideas on grief based on a well loved children's book.

    I hope whatever you are doing today you are being kind to yourself and thinking happy thoughts – God Bless

    Sarah x

  • I like your analogy too. You've been through some really hard losses lately. I hope books are helping.

    I just finished The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce. It's not light, but it was wonderful. I just started Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It's funny, so far. And it's supposed to be a funny read.

    Take care.

  • Eve says:

    I love your analogy of acne and grieving! It's true that no two people grieve alike. I am still grieving two years after the suicide of my brother. I do not believe that a violent death, (or any death of someone who was very close) is something you 'get over', you just find a new normal.
    For me intense exercise helps a lot. It allows me to get out of myself, if that makes sense. And the reading you mention is a great distraction as well. Lately I've read Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy and am currently re-reading Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol. I also find anything by Stephen Leacock is wonderful for these times.
    As for my own writing, I find that I tend to focus on the absurd, and what I find funny.
    I do like what you said about books not fumbling with 'the right thing to say'. In the early days, soon after my brother died, I would hate like hell when someone would tell me things that I found stupid and without any merit at all, like, "He's in a better place." That still makes absolutely no sense to me and I would prefer someone just keep quiet, or go away, rather than say something so stupid. People usually feel like they need to say something in situations like this, when in fact they don't. Just to be there and let the person cry and talk is a great comfort. In most cases the friend should stifle the urge to say anything, because, in fact, there is nothing they can say.
    Anyways, thanks again for your post. Have a great day!

  • Tina says:

    Glad you're finding a distraction. Read anything by Sophie Kinsella if you want a laugh. They're all hysterical. If you haven't read any, start with the Shopaholic series.
    Take care,
    Tina @ Life is Good

  • I'd love to get time to read.

  • Hi, Damyanti,
    Like you, I read to distract myself when I have something major going on.
    Cathy Lette's Mad Cows had some dark situations in it, but it was laugh-out-loud funny.

  • Marian Allen says:

    When my grandmother passed, my mother and I both read Evelyn Waugh's THE LOVED ONE. It's a black comedy about the funeral business in America. Why it relieved our spirits so much, I can't say, but it did. HUGS to you, dear one!

  • Books and movies both distract me from things I don't want to think about.
    Good to hear from you, Damy.

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