SOMETIMES, YOU HEAR someone’s story and think: You’ve been through it.
Miscarriage. The loss of siblings. The death of a parent. The murder of a nephew. Loss of identity and career direction. Racial trauma. Natasha Smith has a deeper understanding than many of what it takes to walk through seasons when, as the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” says, “sorrows like sea billows roll.” And her book Can You Just Sit with Me? Healthy Grieving for the Losses of Life offers hope, comfort, and compassion for the people trying to hold onto an “it is well” faith.
I remember saying to someone when I was deep in the trenches of my own grief, “You mean I have to feel like this forever?” — a question Smith herself has asked. Yet each chapter of her book reminds readers that by sitting with Jesus and with others while walking through loss, the pain lessens enough to be livable. In her book, you will find promises, but not empty ones, about life after loss. It makes a difference knowing that Smith has walked through the valley of the shadow of death and — though she’d be the first to tell you she’s still passing through it — has glimpsed the other side.
Smith’s deep faith doesn’t prevent her from recommending that Christians use all healing resources at their disposal, reminding readers, “It is okay to need both Jesus and a therapist.” What sets her book apart from others, however, is that Smith, an African American woman, also speaks to the collective grief of the pandemic and the compounded trauma that Black Americans experienced — and continue to live through — in the wake of the racial reckoning of 2020.