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A Local Author’s Journey of Healing From Grief

Natural Awakenings -Milwaukee Edition

Wauwatosa author Mary Lou Bailey tells the tale of how she gained strength after a loss in her book, I Am My Own Rug, released this past November through Broken Wing Press. The book, penned after the sudden death of her spouse of 24 years, differs from many other grief books due to a personable tone that speaks to many kinds of loss.

“People need a friend after a loss. Many grief books are very technical, with footnotes and doctors’ notes on the grieving process,” Bailey says. “This book is more a tome, to be easily read and re-read whenever a little bit of strength is required. I suffered a big blow, yet I was able to channel my anxiety into becoming confident again, through intention.” So far this year, Bailey has presented readings of I Am My Own Rug and discussed the topic of grieving at events in Racine and New London, Wisconsin.


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Tosa Connection Book Review: I Am My Own Rug

Nov 22, 2017
Tosa Connection

Review By Amy Colwell Bluhm, PhD

If you’re looking for a purely autobiographical timeline about the loss of a loved one, that’s not what this is about. If you’re looking for a polished, well-delineated grief manual, it’s not that either.

But if you don’t mind diving into the inner, non-linear healing process through poetry, reflective musing, and testimony: you’ve got it in I Am My Own Rug by Wauwatosa-native Mary Lou Bailey.

Bailey gives us a self-proclaimed quick read, “to be enjoyed over a few cups of coffee or glasses of wine.” The book is less like a teacher and more like a friend. Though it’s a quick read, it could no doubt serve as long-term solace for anyone who has lost a partner, to be read and re-read multiple times.

I can only imagine how it goes, to try to make “sense” of the sudden death of a partner. “Like one step forward, two steps back,” says Bailey. After reading this book, sense-making seems beside the point. “Someday,” says Bailey, “others will understand that better is wonderful and the first stepping stone to ‘ok’.”

A lovely bonus to the book is the beautiful, original artwork that illustrates each page. It makes it at once heart-rending and refreshing. And it’s highly personal (one artist was the closest friend of Bailey’s deceased husband, the other the father-in-law from her subsequent marriage) and the reader feels that.

Overall, this book is about finding your steady in a life that’s uncertain. Or, as Bailey puts it:

“I need to remember: I Am My Own Rug.
There isn’t a rug to hold you.
You are holding yourself.
And you can.”