Grief and Loss Books

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MY TOP BOOKS ON GRIEF AND LOSS

In the dark hours and days/weeks after someone dies we often lay in the literal dark not able to shut off our minds, only wanting to sleep so the pain is not so physical; literal, as it is mental in those early days. Consumed with anguish, grief and loss. We search endlessly for books, articles, websites to help us understand what we are feeling, to know we are not alone, to help up cope. I have read many, many books on grief in the 5 short years since my daughters death, the ones that helped me cope were actually the fictional stories of parents suffering though a tragedy, in a very morbid way I was comforted. But I also read many books written specifically to help the bereaved and as I, 5 years ago would have loved to have stumbled upon a list of grief books, I didn’t, so I will share the top that helped me then and the ones I have read more recently to this day, when my daughter should be 5.5 years old.

#1 –   “no death, no fear” , (2002)  by Thich Nhat Hanh

#2 – “A Grief Observed”,  (1961) by C.S. Lewis

#3 – “Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief”, (1994)by Martha Whitmore Hickman

#4 – “The Bereaved Parent”, (1977) by Harriett S. Schiff

#5 – No Time To Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One”,   (1996) by Carla Fine.

#6 – “The Trauma of Everyday Life”,  (2013)  by Mark Epstein

#7 – “Wave”, (2013) by Sonali Deraniyagala

#8 – “Option B”,  (2017) by Sheryl Sandberg

#9 – “A Gift of Hope” (2012) & “His bright Light: The story of Nick Traina” (1998) by Danielle Steele

#10 – “Her”, (2013)  by Christa Parravani

#11 – “A Wind from the East” , (2016)  by Wendy Dartnall

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

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What kids teach us

 

I was putting laundry away when I overheard my sons’ friend telling his other friend that ‘Hayden’s mom wanted a girl but it was born with half a heart and died but they had another baby and now they have Hope’.  Cute, sad; real.

Cute, that kids can be so open, honest and matter of fact. Something that adults could learn from kids. How they can speak so openly. While adults tip toe around the truth.

Sad: because at some point in their friendship my son told his friend about his sister that died.

Real; because that is the reality of our situation and kids don’t mask, hide or have weirdness talking about certain topics the way most adults do. The four boys were playing upstairs they saw a picture of lily and one friend asked about it, about who she was, why was it there (its in the corner with angel statues and candles) so the other friend answered him. Simple.

Thinking back,  I wondered if the friend that answered for my son,  if it was because he knew it was hard for Him and he didn’t want his friend to get sad at having to answer. You may think I give these young kids too much credit but after having witnessed the understanding way in which they have spoken about their sister and the sad reality of what happened, the way they’ve come to question other things has also showed their young intelligence and sense of understanding of the subject.

Unfortunately though we do not think kids are able to understand or accept death, we treat them and their grief very differently. Some do not like to bring kids to funerals because they think they will not understand. Or will tell a child there pet went to a farm instead of allowing them to grieve the inevitable loss that is death.   I think most kids handle the truth better than some adults. Perhaps the younger we teach about life and death the better they  will cope as adults after life has taken away their resilience.

Here is a link on tips to help kids through grief.

https://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/how-to-help-a-grieving-child/

I do believe that yes kids are resilient, that they can move on from one difficult subject to the next much easier than adults. They also reflect as we do a times, though we assume kids just forget. There are nights I have fought back tears as my own kids ask I their dad will die soon, often out of the blue. The random mentions of their sister at bed time. The hugs so freely given with silent understanding when mommy is sad. Kids do get it. Kids feel deeper and accept more than we give them credit for. Maybe more than adults.

Every December, Lily’s birthday looms in the back of my mind, I secretly count down the days every night in my mind so I guess it is in the front of my mind not the back. The routine keeps spinning, nothing waits for my grief to subside.

I wake up, take the kids to school, buy groceries, complete other tasks and drive home until I have to retrieve them. But at times after driving I feel a tug in my heart, my eyes hurt. Remembering all the drives to and from the hospital. Often I  don’t remember crying,  I don’t think I notice anymore it seems common for me to be crying and not to realize, I cry at the gym, at school, in the car. As I walk downstairs and stare at her 11×14 picture on  the wall the biggest I could get without thinking people would call me a crazy person. I remember when I brought it home and put it up in Lily’s room, my husband freaked he said he couldn’t look at it because it was too big, I spent days in her room staring at it, kissing it, apologizing to it. I wanted it to feel like she was there.

Lily would have been almost two when I wrote this back in 2014. Now she would be turning six this December 30 2017. There was a little sister of one of my boys’ friends who loved ‘my baby Hope’; she was around two when Hope was born. She was so adorably sweet to Hope. She truly loves her. Then it struck me, I had a thought that when she was hugging Hope telling her she loved her. Would that have been what lily would have been like? I mean she is a few months older than she would be but essentially the same age/stage that she would have been had she lived…should have been… I wish hope had her big sister. I always wanted a sister.

But, no Lily would not have ever walked or talked or eaten. Had she lived and then survived all her surgeries, she was to have a tracheotomy to be able to breathe, she already had a G-tube that fed her through her gastro intestine, she had delayed development because of seizures at birth, they said she wouldn’t walk though I always doubted that they knew anything. They being the “specialists” She was going to be the one that surprised them the one that beat the odds. But she still would never have walked or tasted food. I struggle with what would have been her life, thinking that perhaps she died because she just didn’t want that life, maybe two months was what was meant to be her life, maybe it is just me, and I am feeling guilty. If I had waited for the anesthesiologist and had a c-section maybe she would not have had so many problems. The breathing issue (small trachea) would always have been there. The reflux problem may not have always been there it was caused by her brain stem damage at birth, but the congenital heart disease would and she would still have needed surgery, I don’t know. I suppose I will never know.

Wishing you a peaceful December.

Thank you for reading

Sheri

5 months after my girl died these were my thoughts….

5 months after Lily died my Nona died, I found this quote or it found me and it really stuck and made sense….

“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body,/I am life without boundaries,/I have never been born and I have never died./Over there the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies/All manifests from the basis of consciousness./Since beginning-less time I have always been free./Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out./Birth and death are only a game of hide and seek./So smile to me and take my hand and wave good bye./Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before./We shall always be meeting again at the true source,/Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.”

 From the book ‘ no death no fear’  by-Thich Nhat Hanh

 

July 9th, 2012

I wake up every day, wondering what today will hold, will this be a good day and by good I mean not a constant day of reminders that I have lost my little girl, there is no such thing as a good day in this new life, there is still a few good moments, like when I can enjoy my two boys and watch them laugh and play and really see happiness on their face. That is a beautiful moment, one I try to catch before my sadness comes back. I used to hurt, I was in physical pain when I would look at pictures of Lily, however now they make me smile a little because she was just so darn cute, perfect in every- well on the outside perfect in every way. But it still tugs at my chest if I stare too long. What would she look like now? Would she be crawling, she would be 6mths old now if she was alive.

This was supposed to be a whole new year for me, with a little baby girl in tow, but instead I tow around an invisible chain of pain attached to my broken heart. I watch mothers pushing there strollers, carrying their babies on their fronts and backs, nursing them. I look away, the shock of the realization that that was supposed to be me is too much to bare. I wonder if they think I am rude, a part of me wants to scream-‘GET AWAY FROM ME!! DON’T YOU KNOW MY BABY DIED!!’ I know this is irrational, but I don’t care I want them to know how much I am suffering, that it is not fair they have a healthy baby and I didn’t, and now in some sick life I have to live I am forced every day to have new mothers, babies, little girls, toddlers, in my view point constantly? It sucks! It’s confusing and evil.

July 30th 2012

I woke up fairly ok, I could even say someone content- maybe because we (the boys and I slept till 830! wow- I know) but also because I just had 2 amazing weeks with my family- we did so many lovely things together and just were together.

I also saw lots of friends over the last 2 weeks- I am learning that our relationships with each other are all we have. I took the boys to a park by our old house, one we haven’t been to since I was pregnant, it was nice, they played, I watched.

And then a women with 2 little girls- about 1 and 4 was there, watching Hayden watch them hurts, as they were leaving the mom says ‘come on lily, come to mommy’ to the 1 year old- I cried, I walked away so my boys wouldn’t see my tears, I got into the car and the song playing was one that always reminds me of her, I got home and an amazing friend texted me that she was thinking of me today- it dawns on me- what is today? Oh it’s the 30th. My daughter would have been 7 months old. I wrote this poem for her. As though sending it out into the universe, she’ll get it.

7 months ago my heart broke forever
7 months ago my child was brought back to life- only to die 7 weeks later
7 months ago my world came crashing down around me
7 months ago I wished it was me that couldn’t breathe
7 months ago I lost

We need to take time to smell the flowers.  Especially the Lily flowers. We named out daughter Lily after the flower because they are beautiful and fragrant but also it is the flower that Steve brought me on our first date and subsequent anniversaries. But please just don’t send me ones at a funeral or to my house when I’m grieving! Because they die. And I don’t want flowers I want my baby.

 

Intro; To My First Year Through My Grief.

My daughter(Lily Emma Olive Hall) died over year ago, shortly after my daughter died, my Nana (my paternal grandmother) passed away at the nice old age of ninety only weeks before my daughter then my Nona (my maternal grandmother) passed away at the nice old age of eighty-four, a few months after my daughter. So in the course of six months I experienced  three very different deaths, you might say the year 2012 was a journey through grief for me, but I am not sure, I spent half of it in shock, most of it crying but oddly enough it’s not just those close to  me deaths that caused my brains unraveling but  at my husband’s work an employee was hit by a train and killed, another’s wife died from cancer so with death comes the realization that you too one day will die, how short and important life is, so what we, my husband and two sons experienced during the worst year of our life was also the most amazing year as a family. We did so many things together, shared so many precious moments, that we were encouraged to enjoy by the loss of our daughter/sister, grandmothers, friends. That I do not think we would have otherwise.

Last year I could not look at pictures of my beautiful, perfect on the outside baby girl because she was so broken on the inside and after her death so was I, so am I. Although I’d be lying if I said my heart was still shattered in pieces, because you do find strength miraculously to get up and carry on, even if in a zombie like fashion. I had to for my sons, for my husband, for myself although in those early months I wished desperately it had been me that died.

My sons wanted a sister so very bad I cannot even explain the months leading up to her birth, not to mention that children of the innocent, tender age of four and six do not deserve to learn  about death, pain or loss.

My husband deserved his little girl. Seeing him and my boys experience the loss of my daughter, our daughter their sister was more painful at times than living with my own heartache. Maybe because like most mothers I felt responsible for her death, I also did not know what to say to anyone, I could not talk about the things I saw, the pain in her eyes, I could not mention her name, her beautiful name Lily without crying.  “Why are you crying mommy?”, “Mommy misses your sister”. “Me too mommy, why did she have to die mommy”? I cannot answer that, she was not made right, she couldn’t breathe on her own, her heart did not work, but in the end something must have happened when she was growing inside me that didn’t work, I cannot explain it, why I feel responsible, why I couldn’t talk about her, why I hurt to look at her face. I just wanted to go back to that moment she lay on my chest, that moment she looked into my eyes and smiled, any moment but the ones that saw her suffering, that saw my boys all three of them too suffering. I have never wanted to run away more badly in my life. Run from the hospital, from my house, from my life. I actually did just that I ran physically and I cried while running, I called it ‘Sheri Therapy’. It did help too, the fresh air, the pain in my legs, the tears flowing. I could physically run away but never literally.

I’d always have those thoughts and images in my head. Here is the beginning of my journey, I wrote very sporadically, painfully and not nearly as much as I should have but enough to understand my journey. I hope knowing mine can help you with yours.