Month: June 2021

Grief Books for Grown Ups 2

This is a continuation of the list of books I’ve read during my close and personal relationship with grief since losing my son in 2018: Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler – Another well-known grief expert. I got this when I took Kessler’s video course of the same name. I’ll post a longer review about this book in the future. The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery by Mary Cregan – I made 68 notes on the Kindle version of this heartbreaking and hopeful memoir. I know I was reading it for answers to the question I have to stop asking, but I couldn’t help myself. Cregan’s ability to give me some semblance of clarity about suicide’s deceptive and distorted pull, along with the totally geeked-out history of mental institutions and our pharma nation made this a fascinating and helpful read. Artful Grief by Sharon Strouse – A friend from NCS gave this to me and I may not have found it on my own. Strouse is an art therapist who lost her teen daughter to suicide in 2001. This book and Unfinished Conversation by Robert E. Lesoine and Marilynne Chophel helped me create my Grief & Growth Notebook in my art studio. Yoga for Grief Relief by Antonio Sausys – The body holds so much pain after trauma. This book also has some decent writing/reflection exercises, too. I used this book, got a lot of therapeutic massages, and found my way to Paul…

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Time Machine

I had a birthday recently. I guess the freaky birthday fairy I imagined couldn’t deliver the time machine I wished for. I wasn’t asking for the rarest, most intricate model with the special features. Going back 200+ years is not my thing. Sigh. Sob. I just… I just wanted something simple and easy to use, stripped down to the basics. The one with the raised red “D” button for DO OVER. The one with a huge, backlit keypad so I could be transported to 2013 with the knowledge I have now. Even 2014 or 2015 would work.  I got the one everyone gets. It only moves forward.

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Grief Books for Grown Ups

I remember listening to the audio version of Life after Loss: A Practical Guide to Renewing Your Life After Experiencing Major Loss en route to the airport. It was a library book I downloaded for the ride. My husband was driving; our older son was leaving for an internship abroad. The date was December 28, exactly three months after our younger son’s suicide. I was sitting in the passenger seat, headphones in, rigid and brittle, holding my breath so I wouldn’t break apart. Then, the narrator explained, “Certain points in time after a major loss stand out with special significance.” The three-month marker, he said, “is often one of the most difficult times of all…..the full impact of the loss is upon you.” I snapped to attention. This validation—that the mishmash of shock and fear I’d lugged around every single day since September was morphing into something else—helped me feel a mild sense of relief. I bought a physical copy of the book when we got home. While there is plenty in Life After Loss I did not use or care for, there were practical goal-setting exercises that helped me chart a new course for myself. This website, pivoting from counseling to teaching, and an expansion of my creative reach sprung from Life After Loss. Here are some of the many other books I’ve read since that fateful fall of 2018 and continue to consult on this journey: The Unspeakable Loss: How Do You Live After a Child Dies? by…

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El Deafo

This book is considered a graphic novel memoir by author/illustrator Cece Bell. The story follows Cece from age four, when she suffers severe hearing loss as a result of a bout with meningitis, through the end of fifth grade. The fact that the story centers on hearing makes the choice to use rabbits as the characters all the more charming. Through Bell’s delightful drawings, Cece’s pre-illness life is all about wearing her favorite polka-dot swimsuit, watching TV, and having fun with friends. It’s 1975. Post-illness, Cece struggles with her hearing loss in a number of ways, shown deftly in the panels where she tries in vain to understand TV programs, her friends, and family. She sees a speech therapist who helps her learn to read lips, but reading lips is hard when there aren’t any context clues, people cover their mouths, shout, or talk over each other. Enter the Phonic Ear. Cece’s life changes dramatically. The Phonic Ear is a giant device she has to wear during the school year when her teachers are connected via a wearable microphone. At first, Cece is devastated she has to wear such an enormous piece of equipment. This advancement makes understanding classes so much easier, but Cece’s experience as an oddity when all she wants to do is fit in comes across loud and clear. When Cece’s crush learns about the benefits of her “super hearing” device (Cece can hear the teacher wherever she is in the building and whatever she’s doing), she…

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Summer at Cedar Run

One of the many joys of working at an independent school is the fact that we start late and end early. The school days are chock full, satisfying, and sometimes stressful. Then, summer stretches out in long months with far-flung travel destinations or weekends to Montreal and Burlington, Vermont; teaching and taking art workshops, seeing blockbuster movies, attending festivals, and hosting plenty of parties on the patio with friends and family.  Rarely had I worked a “real” summer job since I became the school counselor at North Country School. Later, when I decided to step away from that role in January 2020, little did I know a virus would wend its way into everyone’s spring and, well…you know how it decimated every other season after that. A new role for me at NCS wasn’t necessarily secure. Thankfully, I was offered a position teaching ELA and Social Studies with a small group of 5th and 6th graders. Knowing a giant staycation lay before me, I could organize my days around diving into contemporary children’s lit and lesson planning, but I wanted something more. Letting go of my life as a mental health professional while the world devolved around me felt liberating. Removing myself from the education system, stepping off the well-worn path I’d trod at NCS, I could be the newbie instead of the veteran for once. I decided to push myself into retail to provide an added layer of structure and stability during that uncertain summer. I joined the staff…

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