what helped you grieve?
April 13, 2021 10:03 PM   Subscribe

What book or piece of writing helped you to grieve? I wish to gift a book to a distant friend who is about to lose their mother after a swift illness. Here's some characteristics i'm looking for, but please don't let it limit your sharing of ideas: - written by a woman/NB/queer person/people - feminist approach - philosophical or sociological e.g. not a self-help book, or a 'science of grieving book'... more like an Audre Lorde or bell hooks style. - poetry or prose or graphic novel - could be old or contemporary
posted by MT to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
My mom died unexpectedly when I was 24, and my therapist recommended the book Motherless Daughters. It’s a series of first person accounts about what losing your mother is like and how it continues to impact you, even decades later. I found it very reaffirming.
posted by JenMarie at 10:20 PM on April 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is not exactly sociological but it is both a practical and philosophical musing on the process of grief.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:37 PM on April 13, 2021 [8 favorites]

In the Midst of Winter: Selections from the Literature of Mourning, edited by Mary Jane Moffat
Essays, poems, letters, diaries, etc.

“ Death silences not only those it takes, but those it leaves behind: All too typically we can neither express our grief nor express sympathy for the bereaved. In this sensitive collection, loss finds a voice -- or several voices -- in the poetry, fiction, letters, and diaries of the world's great writers. Here are James Agee, recording the shock of his father's death; William Shakespeare, making poetry of Cleopatra's grief; the Biblical wisdom of The Book of Lamentations; the psychological acuity of Marcel Proust. Here are mourners from classical Rome to eleventh-century China, from the Paiute Indians to present-day Ireland. Arranged in sections that correspond to the stages of mourning, In the Midst of Winter is a collection whose breadth and resonance make it invaluable and utterly unique.”

I loved this book when I was grieving my mother’s death.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:17 PM on April 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Long Pale Corridor helped me greatly when my mom died unexpectedly.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:06 AM on April 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant might be worth a look
posted by crocomancer at 12:59 AM on April 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing has been a comfort.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:19 AM on April 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

It's OK That You're Not OK helped my sister-in-law when my niece died of cancer. It's kind of self-help but more in the "it's okay to grieve the way you're grieving" instead of "here's how to grieve."
posted by cooker girl at 9:29 AM on April 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

When I was in college, I was writing a lot of poetry about my brother after he died very suddenly. My creative writing professor sent me a short email recommending Judith Butler’s Precarious Life. It’s hard to overstate how much that book changed my life.
posted by baptismal at 10:17 AM on April 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief by Kate Ingliss is written after she loses her baby, but it's a fantastic exploration of how to navigate grief in a world full of people who say the (well-intentioned) wrong things and just want you to move on. It's beautifully written and heartbreaking, but infused with a wonderful gallows humor that I found so comforting while struggling with my own loss. Highly, highly recommend.
posted by writermcwriterson at 10:30 AM on April 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have been looking for someone to recommend this to but it's always such an awkward thing but CS Lewis's A Grief Observed helped me immeasurably after a recent loss. The guy is known for being religious, and this piece certainly has an element of that, but it's more questioning and I, a life-long atheist, found so much commonality in the rest of his musings on death that the religious part didn't detract from it. It's nice and short that as I go through other periods of grief around this recent loss or experience it in the future that I could see myself reading it again. It's about his wife, but the elements of grief are common to most, I think.

I also loved this reddit comment on grief. I think of it a lot.
posted by urbanlenny at 10:34 AM on April 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart. One friend gifted it to me the first time my mother had a brain tumor. When another friend gifted me a second copy upon my mother's second (terminal) diagnosis, I finally got around to reading it.
posted by TrixieRamble at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Its the second in a trio but the first need not be read first, I promise. Its about an orphan who finds a mother and how they help each other. It helped me grieve the loss of my mother. I love it so much
posted by hollyanderbody at 8:14 PM on April 14, 2021

Bough Down by Karen Green. (Not trying to define her by her late husband but Karen Green is the widow of David Foster Wallace)
The book is poetry—a response to his suicide.
posted by leafmealone at 7:23 AM on April 15, 2021

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