Some of the best books on death and grief are by those who have suffered a great loss and have personal experience. These can help us to feel less alone and relate to how we are feeling.
Many other books on grief, bereavement and loss are written by psychiatrists and psychologists and help us understand what is happening to us and find ways to work through our grief.
Both types of books on death and grief can be of great benefit for many reasons, but first I'd like to relate a story of how a book helped a young woman who was unable to express her grief:
A staff member came to me one day and asked to borrow a book I had among my library of medical and nursing subjects. The book she borrowed was on the loss of a daughter written by the mother.
As she was a university student working for us during the vacation I thought it was for an assignment. When she returned the book she asked to see me and all her hidden pent up grief was released.
She had gone to university the year before and met her first serious boy friend. He got a vacation job in an abattoir and he picked up an e coli bug and sadly died very quickly.
She had not mentioned it to anyone. It was her first real confrontation with loss and she wouldn't even talk about it to her parents. Her mother, also a staff member, came to see me a few days later. She thanked me as, at last, the grieving process was underway, the young student was talking to them and to her late boyfriend's parents.
This is an example of how reading about how others have gone through tragic loss and coped can help. We don't feel so alone.
As a late teen, my staff member was surrounded by university friends having good times. Her isolation and hiding her grief must have been a huge effort. She went on to qualify as a nurse after her university degree and she continued to work with us during all her vacations. I had innocently helped in the early days simply by having a book on bereavement on a shelf. The book was How Far is it to London Bridge by Joan Hurley - for more information see Books on Grief for Parents.
Books on death and grief can certainly help us to come to terms with our mortality and prepare us for the inevitable, as we all lose someone close during our lifetimes.
When we do suffer a bereavement, reading about how others have come to terms with their losses can be very useful in finding our own way through our grief journey. It makes us feel less alone, and it's a comfort to know that there are others around who feel the same. It gives us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that we can learn to live with our sorrow.
We have put together a few pages with suggestions for the best grief books for different types of grief. You'll find the general books for adults and the complete list here.
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