Grief, Life Lessons

A Book Review

Today, I’m pleased to bring you a guest book review by Linda Scisson.

This excellent little book, Mysterious Moments, reminded me of my own experience in coming to terms with my brother Will’s death. Linda sums up it much better than I could in her excellent book review below.

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A Review of Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief

by Linda L. Scisson

It’s not every day a relative writes a book, and it’s certainly not every day that a relative writes a thought-provoking book that deserves attention among the blog-site world (and elsewhere). I’m speaking of Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief (Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University, Library Partners Press, 2017) by Jane Williams, PhD. Jane, a recently retired clinical psychologist, is my second cousin. Jane’s paternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather were sister and brother. In other words, our dads were first cousins.

While the book’s title is Mysterious Moments, the operative word is “suddenly.” Throughout the ten narratives, based on real life experiences of loss, transformational moments are introduced with phrases like, “suddenly she realized,” “without warning and without any effort, she suddenly . . .,” or “suddenly, in the middle of my distress a healing thought . . .”

On a similar note, with the adjective mysterious appearing in the title, the reader discovers that often a moment appears in an unusual way that brings comfort, healing, or a deeper understanding to a person dealing with grief.

Based on Jane’s clinical experiences, Mysterious Moments allows us to have a better understanding of the idiosyncratic and often mysterious process of grief. That is, the book is not a step by step, self-help book on the stages of grief. It is a book to savor the stories. Why is that? Because one will find lessons to help in this challenging world that includes, like it or not, a delicate emotion called grief.

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Dr. Jane Williams

And the author’s credentials speak for themselves. Dr. Jane Williams has worked for over 25 years with individuals who have experienced trauma, life threatening illness, and grief. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA and Harvard Medical School. At Harvard, she trained in medical crisis counseling and later developed the Medical Crisis and Loss Clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. And she has helped develop grief programs, made national presentations at grief conferences, and published peer-reviewed articles on grief.

And I might add the University of Arkansas’ “Hog Call” would not be an unusual sound to Jane, as she was raised in Russellville, Arkansas, attended Hendrix College, and graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. And some folks in our state would recall Jane’s leadership in the Pulaski County Habitat for Humanity affiliate.


While grief is a universal experience, whether one currently calls Arkansas or North Carolina their home state, I believe this is a book to place on your reading table. Admittedly, a box of facial tissues nearby would be a good idea, as Mysterious Moments is a tender book.

When I first heard about Jane’s book in April (2017), she asked me to let her know what I thought about it. By email, I did just that in mid-May. Having read three reviews by professionals on the book’s back cover, including sterling comments by a former president of the American Psychological Association, I decided to write my own brief reviews. Here are three of them:

(1) The multi-colored working of the Holy Spirit weaves through the ‘mysterious moments’ in 10 easy-to-read stories. Williams’ book is a beautifully understated spiritual book without one specific scripture quoted or referenced.

(2) Continuity and clarity and care — that’s what you’ll find. I did not feel the author was rushed in writing it, and I did not feel rushed in reading it. But I was quite curious what the ‘mysterious moment’ was going to be for each of the 10 stories.

(3) Mysterious Moments calls one to rest in the tension of one’s grief and rest in the grace of one’s eventual, and often unusual, transformation.

Hopefully, blog-site readers of “Reflections from Dorothy: Reflecting on Life, Love & Faith” are convinced that it is no mystery that Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief by Jane Williams, PhD is a polished gem that I am fortunate to have suddenly discovered, and think you will be, too.


Linda L. Scisson is a retired administrative assistant and author of Durables: Articles, Poems, and Reviews and One-of-a-Kind Christmas Quiz.  She lives in Little Rock.


A Note from Dorothy: I want to add my recommendation to Linda’s excellent review. Mysterious Moments is a quick read that I believe will bring comfort and hope to anyone struggling with grief.

You can order Mysterious Momentsfrom Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Or ask you local bookstore to order it through Ingram.

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