Yes, Men Do Cry: A Journal
Reviewed by: John Stokdijk
Gary Fish introduced himself to me after my Open Circle presentation last October. Something I had said resonated with him. After hearing a little bit about his story we decided to meet again. Over coffee at Black and White on the Ajijic Plaza, I learned much more about Gary and his book, Yes, Men Do Cry, a journal. That led to Gary joining the Ajijic Book Club and his book becoming the selection for February, 2017.
Yes, Men Do Cry, a journal captures the very personal and very intimate journey of grieving by Gary during the three years after the death of Lois, his wife for twenty-five years. It will appeal to some people and not others depending on individual interest in and comfort level with its central focus, grieving death. I will not be surprised if the attendance at the February ABC meeting is low, but I hope not.
I was very intrigued by the book, one that contains very few objective facts. It is full of Gary’s subjective experience of his life, his deep feelings and his innermost thoughts. While reading the book, there were times when I felt like I was living inside of the head of Gary Fish. Seeing on paper the detailed subjective experience of another person over a long period of time is not common. It seemed totally honest, completely authentic.
Perhaps unknowingly, Gary also effectively described depression. His was normal, appropriate for his circumstances. But depression can be abnormal, an illness not triggered by any life events, which I have experienced. There is a vast difference between the internal mental state of a depressed person and what others can observe from their external viewpoint. This gap is not easy to describe but Gary does it well.
From time to time Gary wrote about his efforts to change the palliative care system in Canada. This was of great interest to me because of my own experience with organizations seeking systemic change in the country I love. Sadly his efforts were not successful but his book remains as a useful resource.
While I applaud all efforts for systemic improvements, are they feasible? How much of Gary’s experience helps me, or anyone? Gary and I are quite different. My wife Pat and Lois are quite different. Our grieving of loss, when that time comes, will no doubt also be quite different.
But I agree with Gary that openness and discussion is better than silence and denial.
Lakeside is a retirement community with many elderly people. It is a very good place to live. I share with Gary and others the desire that it also be a good place die.