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 Denniston’s Grief Yoga site for loads of somatic grief relief.
The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim – These were two quotes I noted from that novel: “Perhaps life was easier, but she couldn’t help but feel emptiness as she thought of the lives her coworkers have. The fullness that she missed.” and “How joyful, how abundant life could sometimes be—despite the disappointments, the tragedy.”
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner – It’s no surprise the musical genius behind Japanese Breakfast is getting attention with this well-crafted memoir that amplifies grief, loss, and identity in so many beautiful, artful ways. And the food-love memories!!
Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo – A memoir from an exceptional poet. I was drawn to this short and powerful work, not knowing much about Harjo, because I’d read her poem called Perhaps the World Ends Here. It resonates with me because she opens with the line “The world begins at a kitchen table.” So many of my memories of our family before and after revolve around specific recipes, events, and homecomings. I highlighted her observations about death, dreams, legacy, and what she calls “the poetry of living” while reading Crazy Brave.
We Are All That’s Left by Carrie Arcos – A novel I came across early in my grief and made lots of notes. It’s listed as a YA read, but it’s harrowing stuff. The Bosnian-born mother is pretty closed off from her teen daughter in America and then they experience a terrorist attack together. I got something out of re-reading my notes about this book and remembering the mother’s terrifying experiences in her war-torn country when I had cranky moments during the early months of the pandemic. I am privileged in so many ways and continue to be.
Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat – I listened to this audiobook while working in my studio. Sound advice that isn’t about forced happiness or positivity (despite the title); the author talks about a focus on choice and not inflicting needless suffering onto ourselves. Gawdat’s young adult son, Ali, died as a result of a medical error during surgery.
Resilient Grieving by Lucy Hone – I feel connected to Lucy Hone not only because we lost our children, but because she had a job that pushed her to apply the skills from her career onto her personal life. As a resiliency researcher, bereavement put her work to the test. I appreciated how she linked results from her VIA (Values In Action) Character Strengths survey with grief and growth. It was innovative and having taken the survey before my son’s death, it was helpful to use her exercises to see what’s changed and what’s remained the same for me since then. It also affirmed my long-standing use of the VIA survey with students.
I did not learn about George Bonanno’s groundbreaking Continuing Bonds grief theory in grad school. I did learn about it through a webinar with What’s Your Grief and Hone gives it the attention it deserves in her book.
Like Hone, I do my best to soak up as much material as I can to build the life I have now. So, of course, I loved the lengthy list of resources included in this book.
TBR: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Read and write on!