**Trigger Warning: Suicide**
I admit it. I am greatly jealous of Rachel Hollis. Her success is something that I would kill to have. A successful company, inspiring others, multiple published books, a cute family… What’s not to love. I enjoyed her first book Girl Wash Your Face and her second book Girl, Stop Apologizing, was okay. If anything, she was inspiring with all the hardships she got through and how much pizzazz she had to inspire other women.
Let’s be honest, most of those women were white, Christian women, but that’s besides the point. My main criticism of her first book was how INAPPROPRIATE her future husband behaved. It was downright appalling. I remember listening to the first book and being absolutely HORRIFIED that she ended up marrying him. He was a total misogynistic scumbag. He did not deserve a second chance, yet she gave him one anyways.
No, my main criticism/rant today is about her most recent book, Didn’t See That Coming. To be fair, when I put the audiobook on hold a few months before, I did not realize it was a book about grief. I had heard about her recent divorce from Dave Hollis, but I didn’t realize the timing of the book would allow her to talk about it in her new book. Spoiler alert: she only talks about the divorce a little bit. I think she was in the editing phase when they “decided” to break up. In both the book, news outlets, her podcast, etc., she doesn’t even give her fans a reason for the divorce. She just explains that it’s better for her children to have parents who are happy, which is fair. What isn’t fair is that her and her husband ripped thousands of people off with their marriage conferences and displaying their “happy” marriage, only to end it months later. I feel bad for the people who got duped. I also feel badly that she doesn’t have the courage to be honest with her fans. I feel that honesty is one of the most, if not the most, important part of the self-help industry. If you’re going to be helping others, you need to be prepared to lay it all out, no holds barred. All your dirty laundry needs to be visible if you’re going to use your own experiences to help others.
This new book is incredibly painful to read. It is not enjoyable. I almost stopped listening after her painful introduction/ first chapter where I pretty much felt she was yelling at me and being super critical. Way beyond tough-love. No empathy for others experiencing the painful loss that comes with a pandemic. She basically just tells you to suck it up and work 3 jobs if you have to. No offense, I am an educator and I wear a mask ALL DAY LONG. Do you know how exhausting that is? Yes I am in more debt than I would like, but I also am a HUMAN BEING. Working three jobs is not physically possible for me right now. I am in a much better state than many people in the country right now, and I’m struggling. I don’t understand how someone DARE criticize the pain that others are going through CURRENTLY.
My main problem of the book is this: her “expertise” with grief. She does not provide the reader with any sort of trigger warning. If you have experienced a suicide in your lifetime, this book is absolutely not for you. She talks about the 5 stages of grief, which are pretty famous. I remember learning about them as an undergraduate in Psychology from a licensed Professor with a pHD. She learned about them FROM THE INTERNET. She also doesn’t understand that people can experience these stages in a different order and can get stuck on a stage for years. How do I know this? Well, she has never forgiven her parents for how they responded to her brother’s suicide. She says that her parents stopped parenting her after his death. It sounds like, to me, that her parents never got the professional help they needed nor had a safe way to grieve their son’s death. Their marriage ended and they were never able to move on. However, Rachel takes it extremely personally and clearly has not forgiven them after 30 years.
My other problem with her book is how she decides it’s okay to lie to her own kids and hide her emotions from them. There is one chapter where she says it’s absolutely not okay to rely on your kids to help you get better, which is understandable. Then, she goes on to say how she will hide in her bedroom and cry instead of being honest with her kids if she is having a bad day. I am an educator. I have a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I am not an expert by any means, but NOTHING ABOUT THAT STATEMENT IS OKAY. Children need role models. They need to be able to see you handle your grief in a safe way, not hide your grief and lie. They need you to say when you’ve made a mistake or when you’ve had a bad day.
You know how I handle the bad stuff in front of my kids? HUMOR. It’s an extremely helpful tool. When I make a mistake, I apologize about it and don’t try to back out of it. When my grandmother died and I was student teaching, my second graders KNEW about it and they made me a card. It was important for them to see that I could experience a loss, just like them. Rachel Hollis is doing a disservice to her own kids already, but then to explain to others, by making them feel shame, that it is justified? NOT OKAY.
Kids need you to be honest with them. Obviously if you’re experiencing a terrible loss like a divorce or a family member’s death or a suicide of someone close to you, then you shouldn’t be relying on your kids to help you get through it. What you SHOULD do is exactly the opposite of what she shames her readers into doing. You should tell them you’re sad. You should tell them you are confused and don’t have all the answers, because let’s face it, nobody does. You SHOULD be up front with your kids when you’re having a really bad day because they need to have a role model who is willing to learn how to handle it. What happens when someone close to her kids dies and they have no idea what to do with their grief?
She talks about the importance of therapy. Sure, therapy is super important for some people. It can help with all sorts of challenges you will face. However, therapy is not financially attainable for everyone. You know what is? Showing yourself some love. Showing yourself that it is perfectly okay if you make mistakes or you have a bad day or you don’t know what to do. You know what is attainable for everyone? Experiencing the grief as it is. You will get through it. You will! It never fully goes away, but by lying to your kids, you’re making it worse for yourself and for your children.
Remember to be honest and to love yourself, even if you don’t feel lovable in your current moment.
And please, don’t read her new book, unless you really want to. But be warned that she does go into detail about her brother’s suicide without warning you.