Thursday, January 04, 2007

Michael Corrigan and the male grief process

Several years ago I discovered the writing of Michael Corrigan when I reviewed his book Confessions of a Shanty Irishman. I enjoyed and admired Corrigan's writing style, his use of humor and blarney, his expression of deep felt emotion at the death of the father who raised him. That first book was swiftly followed by
The Irish Connection and later by Byron. Corrigan is the quintessential Celtic writer -- gifted with a humorous take on life and blessed with the words to express himself. His writing can be playful, deadly serious, and occasionally stunning.

As sometimes happens, Corrigan and I maintained email contact after the reviews were written. As fellow writers we compared our successes and failures. I lived my rather humdrum life vicariously through him and his wife Karen and their travels to places I will never visit -- Spain, Ireland, San Francisco. The blow of losing his father, grandparents, and mother was softened, always, by Karen's joyous presence in his life. The sum of their marriage is expressed in the photo above.

On September 12 2005, Michael lost Karen to a brain aneurysm. His brief email saying Karen was in the hospital, not expected to live, chilled me to the marrow and broke my heart because I knew he had lost his anchor, his raison d'etre in life. Although we'd never met, I knew Karen and Michael Corrigan well. How could he survive the loss of his bright and shining girl, the respected business woman and activist? How could he give sorrow words in a world that had "turned black before his eyes" as Dylan said in a song?

After more than a year of solitary living, a life without Karen, Michael's introspective grief is reaching out to comfort others. He worries about men in particular because males rarely express their grief or seek the counseling they need. Weekly counseling has helped him survive the black emptiness of life without Karen. In the winter edition of an online literary journal, New Works Review, Michael Corrigan tells his story of grief and loss and reaches out to other men suffering as he is. His journey through shock, despair, and grief is beautifully written and helpful.

I encourage everyone, male and female, to read Corrigan's essay, in which he truly does "Give Sorrow Words." Karen would be so proud to know her death became a catalyst to help others. If even one person benefits from Michael's words, Karen's legacy will continue. Share the link with anyone you know who might benefit from Michael Corrigan's experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi, saw your review of charles potts poetry book on

i'm wondering if you'd like to help potts reach a larger audience.

you can contact me at

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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