Conversations in Grief Blog: A Life Raft for the Sea of Grief
A Life Raft for the Sea of Grief
By Hilary Furnish
When someone we love dies, it can feel like we are drowning in the sea of our grief. In our roles as Bereavement Counselors, we understand that while your grief is your own, having support within reach can make all the difference. Some of the best support we have found has been in carefully written books on grief and grieving. In the sea of your grief, these may act as life rafts to help support you along the way. All the books listed we have read, recommend, and have found to be incredibly helpful to the bereaved we serve.
It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, by Megan Devine
A psychotherapist, Devine, wrote her book after she lost her partner in a drowning accident. The title of Devine’s book sets the table for the book’s content. Grievers don’t have to be okay. She gives permission to grieve their loss for the rest of their lives. One of my favorite quotes from her book follows, “When something cannot be changed, the ‘enlightened’ response is to pay attention. To turn toward it and say, ‘I see you.’ That’s the big secret of grief: the answer to the pain is in the pain...it deserves to be heard.”
How to Carry What Can’t Be Fixed: A Journal for Grief, by Megan Divine
Devine has put together a carefully crafted journal for grief and loss. This book guides users through their grief with exercises, information, and practical tips on how to navigate the world while grieving. It covers everything from processing the intensity of early grief to how to decline an invitation you may not be ready for yet. Devine fills each page with practicality, care, and compassion designed to help provide support when it’s needed most.
Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, by David Kessler
Kessler is considered one of the world’s experts on grief. He has heard the stories of thousands and experienced his own losses, both with the death of his mother as a child, and the death of his son to an accidental drug overdose. This is a book of hope while walking alongside his readers in their pain. He wrote it as a response to how he made meaning after his son’s death and has added a brief afterword that addresses the pandemic.
Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart, by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Grief is a wilderness journey, according to Wolfelt. A long, mountainous hike that is uniquely yours. This is a comprehensive look at grieving that includes chapters on the misconceptions of grief, the feelings of loss, recognizing that you are not crazy, and how to nurture yourself. A companion journal is also available if you are interested in exploring the touchstones and how you are experiencing them on your grief journey.
Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief by Joanne Caccitore, Ph.D.
In this book, Dr. Caccitore compassionately delves into the human experience that is grieving. She shares stories and insights from her own grief journey, and from those she has supported in her practice. Through these stories, she paints a picture of grief that reflects the person and the loss rather than a formula. Her encouraging words help guide the reader to connect with their grief and honor their losses in ways that provide comfort and meaning.
Grieving is Loving: Compassionate Words for Bearing the Unbearable by Joanne Caccitore, Ph.D.
A companion book for her previous work, Bearing the Unbearable, is a compilation of stories, quotes, and poems intended to provide encouragement to grieving. It is a great book to open and find a short reflection or insight on grief and loss. It helps the reader to embrace their grief, “Just one day, just one moment, one breath at a time…”
The following books are written with children in mind. However, we have found that the way they describe and acknowledge grief can be helpful for all ages.
Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss, by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen
It’s the story of Grandy and the big loss she suffered and the pot of tear soup she made to guide her process of grieving. It provides the reader the opportunity to consider what their recipe for tear soup will be and to acknowledge how you may be feeling in a creative way.
My Big, Dumb, Invisible Dragon, by Angie Lucas and Birgitta Sif
This is the story of how grief often arrives and takes over every aspect of our lives. In this story, grief takes the form of an Invisible Dragon and provides examples of how we learn to make space for grief in our lives.