Sending the children off to school with their favourite books for World Book Day reminded me that we can celebrate all kinds of books, including the ones written to help us with the losses in our lives. The authors can all be found on the Grief Specialists website.
Tears of a Mother: Where Love Triumphs Over Loss by Eva Nabunya
There is nothing as tragic as the loss of a baby, more so the loss of many babies. When Eva lost them, she lost pieces of herself that are hard to forget. The depth of love she felt for her angels hasn't faded. It has been documented that in the UK, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss, but conversations around the heart-breaking frequent experiences are few and far between.
This book offers you an insight to be able to extend a helping hand to "mothers" who have no physical children cradling their hip or suckling at their bosom; none neither in the pram...mothers with nothing to prove their claims, but an unsuccessful effort at wading through the foggy clouds of postnatal depression…
Sixteen Days by Victoria Wilson-Crane, PhD
When Mary-Lou, a 22-year-old Law graduate and Masters student at The University of Sheffield died suddenly in January 2020, her auntie, Dr Victoria Wilson-Crane found herself in a position of being strong for her sister, whilst feeling totally bereft as well.
As an academic, Victoria turned to reading. Some of the material out there about sudden death frightened her, as they talked a lot about families falling apart and that didn't resonate with her, or match her experience.
Although close to her niece, Victoria wasn't right at the centre of the grief.
Victoria, who is Director of Innovative Student Learning at Kaplan International Pathways said: “There wasn't a lot out there in terms of books or articles for someone who’s grieving and totally heartbroken but not an immediate family member. A lot of friends were saying things like, “I really don’t know what to say...,” and I didn’t have any words, either.
“This is when I decided to write a book about my experience. Sixteen Days is a memoir about the – mostly kind – things people said, and did, in the short period between Mary-Lou’s death and the funeral. At a time of many people experiencing loss during the global pandemic, I hope my book helps others. It contains advice for the reader on how to support people in shock and grieving, following bereavement,” continued Victoria.
Unseen: How to recognise the link between loss and its devastating impact on the body by Carol Wright
Loss can destroy people in so many unseen ways. Carol gives a full insight into the effects of stress on the body and brain from a coach and patient’s perspective and offers others hope, guidance, tips and methods for coping with some somewhat taboo subjects through self-care, food and journaling. This book will give you coping mechanisms and hope.
For many there is nothing and no one will listen. Self-care was the only way Carol got herself out of pain, moving and living again after fractures, depression, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases.
Love Untethered by Vanessa May
Love Untethered' charts Vanessa's experience of the devastating and life-changing loss of her son. For anyone who is going through a bereavement, (or knows someone who is), 'Love Untethered' could provide a lifeline. It’s an honest and brave account of how you go on after someone important has died.
Based on both her personal and professional experience, Vanessa provides advice on making the grieving process a little more bearable when your world has been shattered beyond recognition. She also highlights something often overlooked - that grief affects us profoundly, not only emotionally but sometimes physically and spiritually too.
'Love Untethered' offers hope that, although immensely challenging and not something you ever get over, it is possible to survive something as terrible as the death of your child and to find meaning and purpose in life as you live on without them. A life now sustained by untethered love.
Caring for Cancer: The Real Journey by Joanne Goodwin-Worton
This book offers a real-life insight into the cancer experience from the carer’s perspective. However you read this book, whether you be a carer yourself, a family member, a friend or a medical professional, it can offer a profoundly inspiring and unique insight.
Jo was married to her best friend for 12 years before he was given the diagnosis of Stage 4 gastroesophageal cancer in 2018. He passed away in 2019 after a life-changing journey.
This is Jo’s uncensored real-life journey of caring for someone with cancer and how she coped with the emotions and expectations surrounding bereavement and grief.
It is written using real thoughts and feelings and based on factual events. It provides a raw insight into the pure emotions experienced on a day-to-day basis and how, ultimately, She used those experiences to forge her way through bereavement and onto an inspirational journey of finding hope, encouragement and a renewed lust for life.
In her journey, Jo sadly lost the love of her life but also gained a new outlook on her future by finding a way to create a ‘new normal’ despite her life changing. If you are going through a similar situation, Jo hopes this book will show you that you are not alone and that the thoughts and feelings you go through are very real. She also hopes it shows that despite the darkest of days, it is possible to remember the ones we lose with courage and a determination to turn something so difficult into a life of purpose and hope.
Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?: Explaining (sudden) death in words very young children can understand by Elke Thompson
This honest, sensitive and beautifully illustrated picture book is designed to help explain the concept of death to children aged 3-7. Written in Alex's own words, it is based on the real-life conversations that Elke Barber had with her then three-year-old son, Alex, after the sudden death of his father.
The book provides reassurance and understanding to readers through clear and honest answers to the difficult questions that can follow the death of a loved one, and carries the invaluable message that it is okay to be sad, but it is okay to be happy, too.
The Plain Guide to Grief by Dr John Wilson
This is very different from anything on loss and grief published before. It tells you what to expect in the weeks and months ahead, in plain, simple language.
The plain and simple words of this book are important when your loss is new. In the early days after a loss, it can be hard to concentrate, making reading hard work. This book allows for that.
Ellie’s Book, Ben’s Book and Alex’s Book by Lorna Vyse
Ellie’s Book, Ben’s Book and Alex’s Book were written as a result of the numerous discussions Lorna has had with children and young people over the years about death, dying and bereavement. The books acknowledge the pain and heartache that many bereaved children and young people face.
These books are suitable for both families and professionals to support children and young people through their grief and help start the healing process.
The collection of three books is interlinked by the story of one death, providing children and young people with a sensitive yet realistic and honest account of what happens when a parent dies. Each book explores the story from that child’s perspective with narrated sections, hearing the child’s voice and relevant questions answered by their beloved Auntie V. There are also accompanying illustrations to help prompt conversations.
Lost Rites: Community of Grief by Alexandra Derwen
The Community of Grief maps the landscape of communal mourning and provides insight, structure and inquiry to support anyone called to “hold space” for Grief. This book explores the dynamics that already exist and that are also needing to be set in motion in order to remember and reimagine collective mourning in community spaces.
In these strong and challenging times this work is so needed, remembering Grief is love and that we can bear together what we could never bear alone. Lost Rites makes the case that not only is grieving in community essential for individual healing and integration of loss; moreover Grief itself is a force for both community cohesion and of repair.
It is the reparative nature of shared catharsis that makes it the most potent medicine for our collective traumas, ancestral wounds and social injustices.