It’s a difficult topic but one that matters. The death of someone close is one of the most painful things we will go through in our lives. Sadly, it’s something we can’t escape but we will eventually heal. The experience of grief varies greatly. Our grief at a loss can be all consuming. For some, it may seem like it will never end but, with time, feelings will change. It is something that many of us will be experiencing in different ways during the present time – the current virus has many of us thinking about our futures and assessing what is important to us, our families and in our lives.
Last year, in a blog linked to ‘Dying Matters Week’ we gave an overview of some of the titles in our collection that might help during a time of grief. You can find it here. Many of the titles we featured are physical books and with our libraries temporarily closed, they are unavailable. To ensure that there are still resources available at this time, we’ve added titles on this subject to our BorrowBox eBook and eAudio collections and an overview of what’s available is below.
This year’s ‘Dying Matters Week‘ starts on Monday 11 May 2020. During the week (and throughout the year), organisations throughout the country work to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. It aims to start difficult conversations, raise awareness of end of life care and the options available and support those going through difficult times and facing bereavement.
Grief is a very individual experience – there is no “right” way to grieve the loss of a loved one. There is no map or timescale. If you find that you are struggling or need someone to talk to, we have also included links to organisations at the end of this post who may be able to offer help and support during this period. You are not alone – please reach out to someone.
Titles available on BorrowBox aimed at adults
Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love by Lisa Appignanesi (eBook)
Following the death of her partner, Appignanesi writes about the feelings and effects of loss and the emotions that are felt. From the simple sight of his shampoo in the bathroom to dealing with the ordinary and extraordinary tasks that follow a death, this is a book that follows one woman’s experience with grief.
Mindfulness & the Journey of Bereavement: Restoring Hope after a Death by Peter Bridgewater (eBook)
Taken from the BorrowBox description: “Bereavement volunteer Peter Bridgewater shares therapeutic tools into how the practice of mindfulness can develop a conscious awareness of life and death. With frank personal and professional anecdotes, he helps us to navigate the trauma of loss with clarity and wisdom.”
Radical Acts of Love : How We Find Hope At The End Of Life by Janie Brown (eBook)
Janie Brown worked as an oncology nurse for thirty years. In this book, she compiles a collection of twenty conversations she has had with individuals reaching their last days. Showcasing many different perspectives, this book offers insight into the emotions and practicalities of approaching death.
This Really Isn’t About You by Jean Hannah Edelstein (eAudio)
From the author: “In 2014 I moved back to the United States after living abroad for fourteen years, my whole adult life, because my father was dying from cancer. Six weeks after I arrived in New York City, my father died. Six months after that I learned that I had inherited the gene that would cause me cancer too.”
Being Mortal : Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (eBook)
This book looks at the modern experience of mortality. For much of history, death was a common and likely possibility but with modern advances in medicine and technology, the boundaries of facing our mortality have shifted. Using his experiences as a surgeon, Dr Gawande explores these changes.
Grief’s Country by Gail Griffin (eBook)
Exploring her journey through widowhood, this memoir follows Gail Griffin as she navigates the world following the sudden death of her husband. Told through a series of essays interspersed with poems, this book explores the changing experience of grief as faced by one woman.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (eAudio)
From the book: “At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live. A book that reflects on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient.”
Coping With Grief by Mal & Dianne McKissock (eBook)
Now in its fifth edition, this offers advice on the grieving process from organising the funeral to managing anniversaries and special dates. Chapters in this updated edition include complicated grief, memorialisation, talking to children about traumatic death, and compassionate ways to talk to the bereaved.
With The End In Mind: How To Live & Die Well by Dr Kathryn Mannix (eBook)
Written by a palliative care consultant, this book explores the conversations about death that can be so hard to have yet are vital when the end is near. By telling the stories of those nearing their end, it demonstrates how conversations can provide humanity and solace at a difficult time. They can ensure individuals are treated with the care they wish to receive and in the manner and location they choose, while for loved ones, having such information can form part of the grieving process and be a comfort.
This book is a follow-on from Rentzenbrink’s other title ‘The Last Act Of Love’ which explores the aftermath of a life-changing accident within her family. It looks at the experience of grief from many angles in a straightforward and honest way. It shares the message that those who grieve are not alone and that there can be joy in the world again.
This title and the next by Julia Samuel are included in the national Reading Well for Mental Health collection, a list of books providing information and support on managing common mental health conditions or dealing with difficult feelings and experiences.
This is a title we mentioned last year – it’s an accessible book, presenting the experiences of people who have lost loved ones, from friends to partners and other family members. Chapters are not overly long with information and guidance at the end from the author. A useful guide for both individuals living with loss and those supporting them.
Let’s Hope For The Best by Carolina Setterwall (eBook)
A fictionalised account of the events after the death of a partner, this book, translated from Swedish, was called “utterly compulsive” by author Marian Keyes. It looks at how things can change from one minute to the next and what happens when your world is turned upside down.
Grief Day by Day by Alan D Wolfelt (eBook)
This book explores the idea of ritual and how simple, daily practices may be helpful when facing death and experiencing grief. With suggestions for both individual activities and shared practices.
If you’re new to BorrowBox, you can find a guide to getting started here. Some of our titles are in high demand at the moment, so you may find titles are not immediately available. Any titles that you do borrow are loaned for three weeks but if you finish with it before three weeks is up, we would ask you to return the item (using the ‘return’ button in your ‘My Loans’ list) to enable someone else to borrow it. If you need any help with accessing BorrowBox, please email us – email@example.com.
Titles available on BorrowBox aimed at young people
Many of the above titles will include advice for supporting young people through a time of grief. There are three fiction titles in our BorrowBox collection that we recommended in our blog last year from a list of titles on the Booktrust website. These were ‘Before I Die’ by Jenny Downham (eBook), ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness (eBook) and ‘They Both Die At The End’ by Adam Silvera (eAudio).
Titles available on BorrowBox aimed at children
Dak’s dad has been dead for seven days when suddenly he reappears. He’s the same in almost every way, with one startling exception: Dad has turned into a clownfish, and now lives in a tank at their local aquarium.
Cloud Boy by Marcia Williams (eBook)
Harry Christmas and Angie Moon are best friends and almost-twins. Ever since they were born two days apart they’ve been partners in cloud-spotting, sweet-eating and treehouse-building. But when Harry is taken to hospital for headaches that won’t go away, he needs Angie more than ever. Because when things fall apart, only a best friend can stitch them back together.
Resources for conversations with younger children
If you have younger children with questions about Covid-19, publishers Nosy Crow have produced a downloadable picture book explaining the coronavirus outbreak. It is illustrated by Axel Scheffler whose illustrations will be familiar to anyone who has read ‘The Gruffalo’ by Julia Donaldson. Scheffler has also re-imagined some of Julia Donaldson’s best loved characters to explain social distancing guidelines to younger audiences.
The illustrator of Julia Donaldson’s ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ books, Lydia Monks, has also illustrated a book. Written by Professor James Logan, ‘Dr Dog‘ explains what is happening and shares the important information we need to know at this time in language younger children will comprehend.
You may also find useful information here, including links to the Family Information Service and support for new parents.
If you’re new to BorrowBox, we have a ‘Getting Started’ video here and further tips for getting the most out of BorrowBox here. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries you may have.
Other resources for bereavement and mental health
Looking after our mental health is always vital. At present, there are extra challenges and pressures and you may be feeling worried or anxious. Dealing with so many changes as well as illness and loss can seem overwhelming but there is help.
For support during this time, the following organisations have advice, guidance and help:
Warwickshire County Council – Information for residents, including those who may be isolating and need extra support. There is information about bereavement support as well as more general information and guidance for those impacted by Covid-19.
The NHS website – Provides a wealth of information on many topics from washing your hands to support with mental health, information on Covid-19 along with key information about other health matters, including how to contact a healthcare professional if you need it. There is also support for living with bereavement.
Cruse Bereavement Care – Cruse offer support for those living with grief, including a help line and information aimed at all ages. You’ll find their website here.
Guys Gift – Guys Gift offers bereavement support for children, young people and their families in Coventry and Warwickshire.
The Samaritans – As well as providing a help line available 24/7, the Samaritans website also provides information on having difficult conversations and information about mental health support.
The Compassionate Friends – You may also be helping to support others who are living with grief. Information provided on The Compassionate Friends website may help with this, providing support for bereaved parents and their families.
The Miscarriage Association – Support and advice for those affected by miscarriage, molar pregnancy and ectopic pregnancy.
For young adults and children, visit Young Minds.
If you care for others with additional needs such as autism, there are resources on the National Autistic Society website to support you. Resources are also provided on the websites of Scope or the Royal National Institute of Blind People.
There is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming. It seems fitting to end this blog with similar words to last year: Remember that you are not alone – it’s not easy but there are people, perhaps very close by, who can help. They can remember past times fondly with you, help you live today well and move into a future respecting the love lost.