A book for a grieving 20something.
July 26, 2008 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Please suggest helpful books on the grieving process for a twentysomething who just lost her mom.

My wife, at the ripe old age of 23, just lost her mother unexpectedly. She knows she needs a therapist but she is going to use one at school and classes don't start for another month. In the meantime, I'd appreciate any suggestions on books that might be helpful. Books on the typical grieving process or maybe from someone who has been through a similar situation. Nothing textbookish please, I think something more personal would be best. Something that helps her believe that the things she's going through are "normal." Thanks.
posted by CwgrlUp to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wings Cancer Foundation offers wonderful words of encouragement as well as a comprehensive and very readable resource list. I am very sorry about your wife's loss.
posted by peace_love_hope at 10:40 AM on July 26, 2008

Motherless Daughters. Immensely comforting for me, having lost my mom at 10. But the book addresses the loss of mothers for girls/women at many ages, from all kinds of circumstances, including lots of stories anecdotes, and allows for everyone a way to connect. There are others put together by Hope Edelman (letters from Motherless Daughters), but this is definitely going to help her feel like she's not alone.
posted by raztaj at 10:43 AM on July 26, 2008

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. A very good book that I would recommend to everyone regardless of whether they've lost someone or not.
posted by jluce50 at 10:45 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I echo the Motherless Daughters suggestion. I was much older when I lost my mother, and I still found the book helpful. http://tinyurl.com/6btknh
posted by Sia Stewart at 10:51 AM on July 26, 2008

ditto on A Grief Observed...at times it might seem like a tough read, but it is great nonetheless.
I also want to add the Bible to this...though if its not your thing you may be put off. I find incredible inspiration in certain passages and it does kinda tie in with C.S. Lewis of course.

I know this is tough, losing a loved one, but you can get through it and by no means does it need to be a speedy process...

God Bless
posted by TeachTheDead at 11:08 AM on July 26, 2008

My condolences to you and your wife. Having lost a father, I found Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking immensely comforting.
posted by whimwit at 11:36 AM on July 26, 2008

It's from a religion/faith-based perspective, but I was given "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner during a difficult time in my life, and found it to be helpful. My condolences to you and your wife during this time.
posted by lemonwheel at 11:47 AM on July 26, 2008

On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (the "five stages" lady) isn't bad. It's kind of a self-help book about the emotional side of grieving. It seems pretty realistic, and doesn't have too much psychobabble, has lots of real stories.

Is your wife religious? This book has a couple of chapters that touch on religion, but not much. It might make a difference to the books people recommend though.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:06 PM on July 26, 2008

Ouch. In a similar situation I worried that talking about endearing anecdotes of the departed would make people feel worse, but no, it was the best thing. Bring up your favorite little anecdotes that define the particularities of the person.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:09 PM on July 26, 2008

I found comfort in The Orphaned Adult, by Alexander Levy. In spite of its title, it has a lot of good things to say about the unique process of grieving even a single parent.
posted by chicainthecity at 1:10 PM on July 26, 2008

It is never easy to lose your mother. I'm twice your wife's age and my mother is in a nursing home with dementia, so still physically present, but the grief of losing the mother I knew still catches me off guard at unexpected times. It is going to take your wife a good long while to deal with this. Is your wife religious? I'm not, particularly, but have found this poem comforting: Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon. You can also hear a spoken version, along with other Jane Kenyon poems here.
posted by gudrun at 2:01 PM on July 26, 2008

"You'll Get Over It": The Rage of Bereavement by Virginia Ironside sounds like the sort of thing you're after. Very honest and un-psychobabble-y. I found it reassuring - it covers a lot of issues (ones which might not be acceptable in polite conversation, like anger at the person who's died) that your wife might secretly feel (and I felt, having lost my mother at 20) and certainly reassured me I wasn't alone.
posted by terrynutkins at 3:14 PM on July 26, 2008

Sorry to hear about your lose-- my condolences to you and your wife.

I lost someone close to me about about a year and-a-half ago, and posted an extremely similar question. I got a lot of good recommendations there-- many of which have been posted here, but it's still definitely worth a read.

For me, Marcus Aurelius' Meditations helped the most, but I'm not sure that Roman Stoicism is the way to go for most...
posted by cosmonaught at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2008

nthing Motherless Daughters and The Orphaned Adult for popular psychology titles. I lost my mother at 25; I am now 40 and still working through her death, as well as that of my father 7 years later. It is never really over, but there is - at least for me - a place of some equilibrium where the sadness and missing-them balances with good memory and peace.

I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by catlet at 8:55 PM on July 26, 2008

I also got a lot out of reading Motherless Daughters.

I lost my mom at 21 and I remember wanting desperately to find someone else who could relate to what I'd experienced. Please have your wife send me a PM if she wants to connect with someone who understands.

My advice for you is to just make sure she knows it's okay to grieve, it's okay to not be okay. After my mom died, I felt so much pressure, from myself and the people around me, to be "okay" that I didn't really acknowledge the depth of my loss and insisted I was okay. Which, of course, just meant that I ended up eventually having to deal with the grief, plus a couple years of interest.

Tell your wife I am so sorry and that, while it never goes away completely, it does get easier.
posted by missjenny at 6:38 PM on July 27, 2008

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