Although I have some books listed below, please look through the sites I reference in the blogroll. Combined, those links will turn you on to a very comprehensive list of books covering every conceivable aspect of care giving, dying and grieving. The books I note in this section are ones that I personally read so far and can comment on. I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions as well.
- The Year of Magical Thinking: Joan Didion
I read The Year of Magical Thinking about two weeks after K’s passing while on a flight to the UK for business. This book saved me from severe heart palpitations during one of my more intense grieving moments. I think this is the kind of book that can only be appreciated if you have grieved or are in the midst of grieving. It is deeply personal and mirrors what it’s like to be going through grief. Joan Didion lost her husband unexpectedly and quickly to a heart attack. I not only liked the way she wrote about the year of grief that followed but also the tidbits of research she shared about grieving. It was a great help to me and I highly recommend it.
- A Grief Observed: CS Lewis
Many years ago I read the Screwtape Letters and didn’t understand a word. What a delight that some 40 years later I found A Grief Observed and could share the thoughts and feelings that CS Lewis went through after having lost his wife, Joy Gresham, to cancer. Lewis loved Joy very much and her life was taken four years after their marriage. It’s a remarkable story in itself and was depicted in a film called The Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Deborah Winger.
Although I enjoyed much of the book, Lewis spends a great deal of time trying to reconcile his experience with his belief in God. It is a painful struggle for him to accept that when he had now found the love of his life that their companionship should be cut off so short. Was it God? I wasn’t asking the same questions and so though it was interesting it didn’t mesh with my own experience. But with gems like “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything” I appreciated Lewis’ ability to look deeply into his loss in such a poetic way.
- Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the dying. Maggy Callanan and Patricia Kelley
I really needed to read this book at least a month before K’s passing, but there is nothing I can do about it now except to urge you to go read it. Callanan and Kelley are hospice nurses with many years of experience and great insights into the way the dying communicate to us. When K was dying, communication became increasingly difficult and communication was the one thing I was longing for more than anything else. This book would have helped me to help her more than I did. This is a must read book and one that I bought several copies of in order to give to people. Through Callanan and Kelley’s stories you will read about the wondrous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments.