Coping with Grief and Loss

Websites:

The American Cancer Society on Grief and Loss (there are several pages available – this links to only the first one). These writings offer clear details about the kinds of grief reactions and struggles faced by many people. The site is more descriptive than prescriptive and serves as a type of map of what to expect.

What’s Your Grief – This blog provides a variety of resources and topics related to different kinds of loss and bereavement, e.g., loss of a partner, loss of a child, loss of a parent.

Books:

Transcending Loss by Ashley Davis Bush (1997) – This book by a grief counselor considers the transformative nature of grief and recognizes the lifelong impacts of learning to live with loss. Bush counters the notion of applying Kübler-Ross’s typology of coping with bereavement, since K-R’s schema was originally created to explain coping with one’s own impending death, and instead offers a tangible, practical, helpful advice. This is one of the best books on coping I found after my husband’s death.

The Year of Magical Thinking (A Memoir) by Joan Didion (2007) – When Joan Didion lost her husband unexpectedly, she found solace in doing what she does best: she wrote. This is a poignant, personal look at one woman’s grief journey. It helped me feel not so alone in my grief and validated my experience, even though the circumstances of our losses were different.

Companion Through The Darkness: Inner Dialogues on Grief by Stephanie Ericsson (2012) – Ericsson was pregnant with their only child when her husband suddenly died of a heart attack while on a trip. In this book of short essays, Ericsson writes honestly about conversations she has with herself about anger, depression, fear, hope, and longing: the actual conflicting emotions that make coping with grief profoundly exhausting.

Grieving Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping with Loss by Sameet M. Kumar (2005) – As those who have grieved know, continued ruminating and replaying of memories is a challenge that sometimes prevents people from moving forward. Drawing on simple Buddhist principles, this wonderful book helps those who are grieving focus on living mindfully, in the present, and encourages people to accept grieving intentionally, rather than attempting to move on or push down the pain of intense loss.

In the Midst of Winter: Selections from the Literature of Mourning, Ed., Mary Jane Moffatt (1992) – In the first few months of bereavement, I struggled to find words to describe the depth of loss I was feeling. An old friend from graduate school (thank you Melissa), suggested this lovely anthology to me. It was the first time I considered the seasons of grieving and understood this cyclical process. This book, and many of these famous authors and poets, gave me words to describe and begin to understand my experience.

A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates (2011) – An academic and writer, Joyce Carol Oates discussed the incredibly debilitating effects of intense grief and how she slowly found her way to back to herself, yet forever changed. She openly confronts the often unspeakable anguishes: her struggles with prescription medications and her thoughts of suicide. Oates’ memoir is different from Didion’s, just as every widow’s grief experience is different. Both were difficult to read, but resonated deeply.

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One thought on “Coping with Grief and Loss

  1. These are all very good resources for grief. I’d like to suggest another book: one that changed my life, entitled, “Second Firsts,” by Christina Rasmussen. Written by a widow sister, to encourage us to find real love again, by learning first, how to love ourselves and the beauty of life, to the fullest. Extraordinary approach to better coping with life after loss.

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