A best friend’s grief

housley_breeWe Hope You Like This Song: An Overly Honest Story About Friendship, Death, and Mix Tapes is a sad, funny, honest memoir written by Bree Housley (’01 advertising) in honor of her friend, Shelly (Warner) Bridgewater (’02 elementary education) who died in 2005 following complications of childbirth.

“The book is NOT Beaches,” Housley says. “It’s brash, sometimes inappropriate, and we never steal each other’s boyfriends.”

Bridgewater, Housley’s best childhood friend and ISU roommate, died at age 25 one week after her daughter, Hailey, was born prematurely. Shelly had developed preeclampsia before the birth, followed by a condition called HELLP Syndrome.

Housley felt tremendous guilt for not being at her best friend’s side when she became ill. Four years later, she and her sister started a yearlong project to honor her friend’s “crazy, spontaneous crush on life.”

“We chose a new resolution each week and tried to complete it in seven days – a New Week’s Resolution, if you will,” Housley said. “By the end of the year, I had gone through a strange sort of healing, and I was ready to tell our story.”

The result was a blog and the book, which was published in October 2012.

“The year after Shelly’s death was a blur,” Housley said. “Writing the book was cathartic. When I sat down to write, I hadn’t detailed the guilt, so it was super therapeutic.”

Housley was on campus in April for a book signing at University Book Store. She said that she’s surprised by the number of emails she’s received from ”complete strangers” who have read her book and want to talk about their own grief.

“So many touching, emotional thoughts have been shared with me,” she said.

Though writing the book was painful, Housley said the outcome was “exactly what I was hoping for. People tell me they’re going to call a friend RIGHT NOW. I could not have wished for a better outcome.”

Housley is a freelance advertising copywriter in Chicago. She’s currently at work on book number two.


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