Tiny Beautiful Things Book Summary - Tiny Beautiful Things Book explained in key points
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Tiny Beautiful Things summary

Cheryl Strayed

Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

4.1 (304 ratings)
13 mins
Table of Contents

    Tiny Beautiful Things
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    Key idea 1 of 5

    Acceptance of Life and Death

    Questions surrounding life and death can either be very broad or very specific. It’s easy to wonder when you’ll die, how you’ll die, or whether it’ll be painful. But these aren’t the kinds of questions that the author Cheryl Strayed chooses to dwell on.

    She focuses on stories with harrowing questions full of substance, pain, desperation, and beauty. Depression and grieving were common themes throughout her column.

    When we’re depressed or grieving, it often feels like there’s no way out. We feel ashamed and hide ourselves from the world. But Strayed emphasizes that while difficult, we need to be open about how we’re feeling. We need to talk to others and tell them that we’re not okay and that we’re struggling.

    One gentleman seeking advice described being stuck in his own personal hell following the death of his son, who’d been killed by a drunk driver some years earlier. He expressed his regrets about things he could have said or done differently – something we’re all guilty of feeling when a loved one passes. He wondered how on earth he could move on.

    The reality was that he’d already started to move on and that he’ll continue to do so. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting, it means finding your inner healing place.

    Healing is a different process for everyone. The most important thing you can do is carry on the memory of your loved ones in whatever way you can.

    Most people struggling with depression or the process of grieving describe feeling lost. What they don’t realize is how much hope they truly have. The first sign of hope is that they’re reaching out for help. They want to heal, they just don’t know how to.

    The first step is usually acceptance. And acceptance is of major importance in this next story.

    A woman who wrote to Strayed lived in constant fear that she’d end up diagnosed with cancer. It was a common disease in her family. She’d lost her father to liver cancer, her grandmother to a brain tumor, and while her mother survived her battle with breast cancer, it essentially broke her.

    This woman called herself “Scared of the Future.” She was thinking much too heavily about this aspect of life because she was too afraid she’d become ill. She wondered how she could plan for her future when her future wasn’t guaranteed.

    It’s important to realize that none of our futures are guaranteed whether we’re ill or not. If we want to learn how to live, we have to accept that.

    At the same time, it’s completely normal to question your future. It makes it difficult not to when you have a voice in your head that likes to control you.

    Strayed’s advice to anyone dealing with this kind of dilemma is that fear should never overpower your ability to be rational about your own mortality. The more you tell yourself that your future is doomed, the more you’re robbing yourself of the life that you truly deserve.

    A lot of key messages concerning life, death, grieving, and healing are the same. They all take some sort of acceptance.

    In our first example, the father had to accept that his son is no longer alive and that he has to find a way to continue on without him. Things won’t get better without your loved ones, but coping with their loss will get easier.

    For this father, and for anyone who has lost a loved one, it’s the opportunity of having known that person and carrying on their memory that should give us reason enough to keep moving forward.

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    What is Tiny Beautiful Things about?

    Tiny Beautiful Things (2012) is a collection of advice columns penned by Cheryl Strayed, the formerly anonymous author of “Dear Sugar” for the Rumpus. It takes readers on a beautiful but sorrowful journey through the different stages of our lives.

    Who should read Tiny Beautiful Things?

    • Anyone seeking advice on life
    • Those overcoming depression
    • Individuals seeking healing

    About the Author

    Cheryl Strayed is a New York Times best-selling author who earned her calling as an advice columnist with the Rumpus. Her other titles include Wild, Torch, and Brave Enough. She’s also hosted two podcasts Sugar Calling and Dear Sugar, and her essays and short stories have been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and several magazines.

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