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On Grief
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On Grief

By kileyturner
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tagged: Grief, mourning, loss
There may be seven stages of grief, but no two people experience the loss of a loved one the same way. These are some beautiful books examining the profound and overwhelming emotion of grief.
In The Slender Margin

In The Slender Margin

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
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Part memoir, part meditation, this book is an exploration of death from an "insider's" point of view. Using the threads of her brother's early death and her twenty years of work in hospice care, Eve Joseph utilizes history, religion, philosophy, literature, personal anecdote, mythology, poetry and pop culture to discern the unknowable and illuminate her travels through the land of the dying. This is neither an academic text nor a self-help manual; rather, it is a foray into the land of death and …

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Nocturne

Nocturne

on The Life And Death Of My Brother
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover

From the bestselling author of The Reinvention of Love, a heartbreaking memoir of grief and a profound examination of the meaning of life.

Helen Humphreys' younger brother was gone before she could come to terms with the fact that he was terminally ill. Diagnosed with stage 4B pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-five, he died four months later, leaving behind a grieving family. Martin was an extraordinary pianist who debuted at the Royal Festival Hall in London at the age of twenty, later becom …

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All My Puny Sorrows

All My Puny Sorrows

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback Paperback

SHORTLISTED 2014 – Scotiabank Giller Prize
Miriam Toews is beloved for her irresistible voice, for mingling laughter and heartwrenching poignancy like no other writer. In her most passionate novel yet, she brings us the riveting story of two sisters, and a love that illuminates life.
 
You won’t forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as …

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Requiem for My Brother

Requiem for My Brother

edition:Paperback

Marian Botsford Fraser's brother, Dave, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992. Eight years later, as he struggled with increasing disability, he discovered that he had melanoma, which quickly metastasized. In this poignant sibling memoir, Botsford Fraser describes her brother's illness, their deepening relationship after years apart, her role as caregiver in his final months, and, finally, the curious mix of sorrow and soaring she feels in the hour of his death.

She also remembers their c …

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The Cat

The Cat

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback

SINGLE MOTHER ELISE IS completely devoted to her eleven-year-old son; he is her whole world. But that world is destroyed in one terrifying moment when her son is killed in a car accident just outside their home. Suddenly alone, surrounded by memories, Elise faces a future that feels unspeakably bleak—and pointless.

Lost, angry, and desolate, Elise rejects everyone who tries to reach out to her. But as despair threatens to engulf her, she realizes, to her horror, that she cannot join her son: Sh …

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Out of Grief, Singing

Out of Grief, Singing

A Memoir of Motherhood and Loss
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Out of Grief, Singing is an achingly beautiful account of how a woman comes to terms with the loss of her newborn. After a bewildering series of rapid diagnoses and emergency interventions, Charlene's daughter Chloe is born. But her too-brief life is spent in the neonatal intensive care unit, and her mother, leveled by an epidural anaesthetic procedure gone wrong, can barely make it to her daughter's side. In the months following Chloe's death, more medical crises make it nearly impossible to ev …

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Excerpt

I've brought the inkprints of Chloe's feet, perfect prints of perfect feet, unutterably small. They signal, better than anything, the extremity of this place I'm inhabiting. How could any feet be this tiny? Could the fierce, spirited baby, the baby who has died, have had feet this tiny? Perfect, human feet. How could I be the mother of a child with feet so tiny? How could the wearer of these feet be dead? How could I be the mother of a dead baby? I skitter toward the feet, I skitter away from them.

I try not to think about this part: the footprints were made after Chloe died. A nurse, gentle hands cradling this lost body, washed her, dressed her, photographed her. She printed her hands, printed her feet. She did these things, last rites, out of respect for this baby, and for her father who stood watch hour upon hour, for her damaged mother, for the grandmother who hovered between the baby and her own daughter.

I hold the inkprints of Chloe's feet, and I keep returning to the pink parchment. I resolutely refused pink myself as a child -- I was too proud for pink, too sensitive to the unstated equation of femininity and weakness. But now I know something else: a premature baby has so little fat that the narrow arms and feet, the round belly, the ears and fingers and neck and ankles are ruddy, the deepest pink. The blood that streams furiously around the tiny body is scarcely below the surface, boiling with resolve, on an imperious mission to feed, defend, rescue. How could I choose green, or beige, or burgundy? Pink is a softer-than-Chloe color, but it's her color. She spent her days naked, wearing her skin bravely and with determination. I know now that pink is a tough color.

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I Can't Stop Crying

I Can't Stop Crying

Grief and Recovery, A Compassionate Guide
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback

For anyone who has experienced a significant loss, this wonderfully informative and accessible book is a guide to understanding and overcoming grief.

The death of someone close -- a familiy member, spouse, or partner -- can result in feelings of overwhelming grief. At the same time, society unrealistically expects people to recover from grief as quickly as possible. I Can't Stop Crying looks at grieving as a painful but necessary process. The authors emphasize the importance of giving permission …

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The Heart Does Break

The Heart Does Break

Canadian Writers on Grief and Mourning
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

A book in which some of our best writers address their own losses — and help us endure our own…

A heartbreaking, comforting and beautiful collection of true stories about grief and mourning from some of Canada’s best known writers.

When Jean Baird’s daughter, Bronwyn, died suddenly, Jean’s deep instinct was to turn to books to help her in her time of sudden loss. Although she found that the thoughts of counselors, psychologists, Buddhists, and self-help gurus were perhaps some help, the …

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Excerpt

MAY I BRING YOU SOME TEA?
By George Bowering
 
1.
 
Winter is come and gone,
but grief returns with the evolving year.
—P.B. Shelley, Adonais
 
 
Every year, as September gives way to October, my wife, Jean Baird, feels a bleakness that comes with deep loss. She wanders a little, tears in her eyes that make it impossible to handle sewing needle or keyboard. She sometimes gives way to sobbing when she needs to be alone, and she has to have someone with her as autumn makes its way.
 
On the morning of October 3, 2006, we were wakened by the bedroom telephone in our home in Vancouver. The dread that one often feels at such a moment multiplied as I saw the emptiness in my loved one's face. I knew what it was about. Jean was shaking, sitting up in bed, the telephone in her shaking hand. She said, "It is just not getting through to my brain," and I knew for sure. I held her, feeling necessary and useless. We humans are forced to hear the worst things possible.
 
Jean's daughter, Bronwyn, twenty-three years old, was dead in a car crash in southern Ontario. Her aunt Jane, Jean's best friend, had to identify her niece from a photograph the police had shown her, and then telephone Jean.
 
That day we were all insane. While I hurried to the travel agent to buy plane tickets, Bronwyn's brother, Sebastian, went to school and Jean spent more time on the telephone. Then, while I went to the high school to bring Sebastian home, Jean cleaned up the kitchen and read her email. We were all crazy.
 
Jean was just too ordinary. I waited for her to scream or fall on the floor. Sebastian at least put his fist through a wall. "I don't know what I should do," Jean kept saying. I thought about Middle Eastern women who are photographed wailing and clutching at air when a family member gets killed. Over the next few days Jean said such calm things as how fortunate it had been that it was not a two-car accident. A few times she disagreed with the sentiment that the loss of a child is the worst possible bereavement. She had encountered people in lifetime comas following brain injuries, other people reduced to immobility. But how could she imagine that anything was worse than this? I thought that she must be in that famous denial, but I worried; I loved her so. I'd thought that crazy meant berserk. But now I know that the serene Mary in Michelangelo's famous Pietà is completely mad.
 
But over the following year Jean had to have the sanest head and strongest heart in the world to survive the idiotic things that people said to her in the way of commiseration. You have another child? Oh, good. Then it isn't so bad. You must be very happy to know that Bronwyn is with Jesus in Heaven. Time will heal your pain. You should start living your normal life again. I know exactly how you feel. When a new soul comes into the world, it has already chosen a day for leaving it; you have to accept her decision.
 
Some of these wise thoughts and others just as sapient came from family members.
 
I sometimes feel that I should describe the terrible treatment of this woman by people who should have been trying to help her. But I want to respect her privacy, and give her a refuge in a time when solace is not possible. I also remember that she was treated well by her long-time friends in Port Colborne, Ontario, and by the young people who were Bronwyn's good friends. These young folks allowed her to give to them, a true exchange, because their loving mournfulness sustained her for that first week in a world that threatened to be empty. It was Thanksgiving week, and meaningfully so as friends her own age gave her food and a place to sleep and a car for her husband to drive about the Niagara region. You may imagine how precious those things were that week.
 
When the strange ordinariness was over and Jean did manage to break down, her best friends just let her. Just let her. They did not cajole or demand, as the thoughtless will, that she "pull herself together." Sebastian needed time with his and his sister's old Port Colborne friends, and we did not have to know what he was doing day and night, only to hear his voice on his cellphone from time to time.
 
——
 
And sure enough, as a year passed, and then a second year, the bereft mother did not "get over it." Sometimes the horror came unexpectedly, and Jean needed some time to suffer, and maybe a hand to hold. When the earth finished an orbit, and October 3 was approaching, Jean felt the sorrow and lonesomeness and compassion for her daughter almost overcoming her. The time of year does that to you. It is not a year later; it is that day again. Grief returns with the evolving year, indeed.

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