Sending flowers to a funeral is the easy way out. With one quick click online, you’ve picked an appropriate arrangement to be conveniently delivered. There for the world to see is your name on a card tucked neatly among the flowers. Voilà, grief acknowledged.
If only grief were so easy. Long after your flower arrangement has composted, grief lingers on. Grief has a way of showing up like an uninvited houseguest who refuses to leave.
We may notice our loved ones struggling with grief, but too often we don’t know what to say. We want to be supportive, but we feel so clumsy at it that our go-to response is often silence.
Here’s an idea. Send a book. It doesn’t have to be the perfect book. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a book you’ve read. Sending a book tells your loved ones you still remember, you know they are grieving…and perhaps the book will speak to them in ways you cannot.
Maybe you have a favorite book to share; if not, here is a list of my five go-to books to give to mourners.
Healing after Loss is a daily mediation book. It’s a nice companion for someone who wants a little nugget of inspiration and hope. This is a lovely gift, a nice reminder to the receiver that they are remembered and their loved one is remembered as well
Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moment,” A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss… This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.
…there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build… Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives.
Joan Didion’s book, A Year of Magical Thinking, has been out now for 10 years. If you missed this book, wait no longer. It is a great read, one you’ll want to read first before passing on to someone you love. The memoir speaks to the crazy-making time of grief when our bearings are lost and we feel completely unmoored. From Amazon:
… a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage–and a life, in good times and bad–that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.
This is a quirky read. But life in grief hardly feels normal, and quirky wit can lend itself to a fun and insightful read! Did I mention that Grief is a Thing with Feathers is a novel; and novel it is. Oh. Did I mention that Graywolf Press is an independent non-profit publisher in Minneapolis? No bias here! From Amazon:
Part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s extraordinary debut combines compassion and bravura style to dazzling effect. Full of angular wit and profound truths…