East Austin Book Club

Discussing books together, on the third Monday of every month at Native Hostel & Bar on Zoom, 7pm sharp

When Death Takes Something From You, You Give it Back

by Naja Marie Aidt

Cover artwork for When Death Takes Something From You, You Give it Back

In March 2015, Naja Marie Aidt’s twenty-five-year-old son, Carl, died in a tragic accident. When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back chronicles the few first years after that devastating phone call. It is at once a sober account of life after losing a child and an exploration of the language of poetry, loss, and love.

Intensely moving, When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back explores what is it to be a family, what it is to love and lose, and what it is to treasure life in spite of death’s indomitable resolve.

Discussion questions

- On page 8, she describes Carl but says she does so in relation to herself - what does that mean?
-What is the relationship between grief and dreams in this novel?
-How does she experience guilt? How does it impact her grieving?
-She mentions having no photos to attach to her memories, how do we remember people without “stuff?” How might we remember the people who we do not know but have lost this year?
-Which author who writes about grief that she quoted did you like the best? Why?
-The author speaks about the first time she was able to leave the house after having Carl, and the sensation she had of being “alone in her body”. Is it possible to feel grief about things that may be positive overall?
-The author speaks about the connection between death (or the fear of death) and control. How do you see these two things relating?
-What is your relationship to crying? Do you do it easily or is it hard for you? What brings it out in you?
-On page 14 they talk about death and what they want when they die - have you had that conversation with parents, kids or anyone you love? How did it go? What was difficult about it?
-What connections between Carl’s life and his mom’s feelings or findings afterward did you feel the most about?
-On page 34 the author writes about how the more you heal, the more you forget the person, which is unbearable. Did you relate with this contradiction?
-How have you wanted to be supported when you were going through grief? How have you shown up for others?