header image header image header image
Books that Bring Meaning to Bereavement 

Posted On 9/6/2017 By Admin

No matter how old I get, September always reminds me of buying school supplies and heading back for my favourite subject : recess! But if you're grieving and mourning the loss of someone you love, watching the seasons change from light to dark is unlikely to inspire feelings of joy and playfulness.

Grieving families regularly ask me to recommend books that can help them navigate their complicated and deep feelings, especially in a culture where grief is often treated like a shameful secret that implies moral weakness or a resistance against closure, which is a myth by the way; there is only the possibility of the new normal after our loved one dies. While it's always best to surround yourself with kind, compassionate and loving people, books about bereavement are also true companions.

Here are two of my favourite titles that I regularly recommend to families. The excerpts are intended to offer love, hope and faith to readers who've been broken open by loss. This fall, may each of us deepen our learning about how to nourish ourselves and others.

When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times by Pema Chodron  (1997) is superb. If you're not familiar with this beloved Buddhist teacher and nun (whose monastery is based in beautiful Cape Breton, Nova Scotia), I am thrilled to introduce you to a new friend and confidant. "We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."

Heartbroken-Open: A Memoir Through Loss to Self-Discovery by Kristine Carlson (2010) is about navigating life after the death of her husband, Dr. Richard Carlson, author of the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" series. A poignant and moving memoir that's honest without being brutal about marriage, life and transformation. "There's only one question to ask when you are facing the big stuff: Can I change this? Of course, I knew I couldn't change Richard's death. I knew I had to surrender. But, surrender to what? The "what" was not the fear. It was the feelings that would come through grief to heal me. It was grace that would show up in love."