Navigating Grief Book review Post Secrets

Book Review: A Lifetime of Secrets

A Lifetime of Secrets, A PostSecret Book
compiled by Frank Warren

Last holiday I was given a book from my adult daughter: A Lifetime of Secrets, A PostSecret Book by Frank Warren. I hadn’t heard of this series of books, and was immediately drawn in by the cover art.

PostSecrets originated in 2003 after a dream led the artist to a journey of postcard messages. The use of postcards as a miniature canvas evolved into a group art project. According to the website, “PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.” Simple.  Extremely profound.

The art submitted is as intriguing as the words. Photographs, past-ups, hand drawn images and art montages illustrate stark and revealing thoughts.  Secrets shared are full of despair and full of hope. Secrets shared are funny and sad. Some secrets remain cryptic, while others leave no doubts. Through them all secrets shared change lives for both the creator and the reader.

PostSecrets are not for the faint of heart. The website list resources for people concerned about suicide. The combined art and confession cover topics of mental health, addiction, spirituality, sexuality, illness, relationships.  As I read, I ran a gamut of emotions from sadness, laughter, shock and surprise that overwhelmed me, yet I was compelled to read on.

The raw, honest look people share anonymously is a rare candor of human thought. Often the process for the sender is what reveals the secret: “It took making this postcard to realize I wasn’t in love anymore.” Doubts and questions surface: “I love the quirks, flaws and imperfections that people have. (I wonder if anyone likes mine.)”   Secrets talk about the future: “I’m so scared that growing up means dying a little inside,” and the past: “The first time I got drunk, my friends left me in an empty room because I blacked out. I woke up naked & bleeding. I was 12.” Scattered among tales of the dark side of life are the dreams, inspiration and hope that secrets also reveal: “If you are waiting for a sign… this is it. Do it. It will be amazing.”

Secrets are hidden pain, guilt, confusion, wishes and hope. Secrets can be about anything! We all have secrets as part of our human experience. Some can devastate. Some can elevate. Many will motivate. I think the reason PostSecrets , and group support programs such as SFH, are so effective in the face of adversity is that we really are not alone in darkness and light if we take the time to tell someone.  If you can accept the wide range of human conditions, this is a definite must-read.

Other titles in the PostSecret series are: PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions form Ordinary Lives, PostSecrets: Confessions on Life, Death and God, My Secret, and The Secret Lives of Men and Women. All are available now through the SFH Amazon Store.

Does this book sound intriguing to you? Would you read this? Is there a similar book you recommend for our readers? Why?

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