Death & Grief note and resources
That's me and my mom, Suzann, she died suddenly in 2015. This page is dedicated to the resources I have collected about death.
In February of 2015, when I was 32, one of my best friends, Ruth, who was also 32, died of colon cancer.
In November of that same year my mom, Suzann, died suddenly.
These two deaths were not long after a dear friends dear friend died, my sweetheart’s dad died and another good friend’s mom died.
It was a lot. It felt like too much. For a long while after my mom's death I didn't really want to live. I felt broken- healing is slow and long. It was hard to choose life day after day, but I did and I am so glad to be living-- I now choose to live, and to live in a way that honors my beloveds. I wanted to make this page as a tiny offering for people navigating the shit hole of death & grief.
I am currently working on a book centered around death & grief, while it is in progress I wanted a place to gather these resources- so that when folks ask 'what was most helpful?' I can direct them to this list. I hope this website page can act as an 'online zine' that you can look to if you need it. It isn't perfect or complete, these aren't the things that are right for everyone or every situation. We can't and shouldn't do this alone. If you feel alone please email me at: email@example.com
The shock of my mom's death has (sort of) worn off, it still hurts more than anything has ever hurt, but it did get easier. It can suck so bad to be the one left behind when someone dies but I believe if we can heal through loss it makes us shine brighter- I find that the other side of grief, no matter how messy can also be gorgeous. xo, Chelsea
💜Reading and Resources💜
This is an incomplete list of some things I found helpful and/or things were recommended by others.
Disclaimer- I have not read all of these books and some that I did read were not perfectly aligned with my values and
truest self & heart, they are not all 'on-point' with my politics & spiritual self. However, when I was in shock, or stuck in a shit hole of terrible times even one phrase that shimmered was helpful and held possibility. The descriptions are pulled from Internet listings so you get a sense of what they are about. This list is in no particular order.
The Smell of Rain on Dust, Grief & Praise, Marti'n Prechtel. Inspiring hope, solace, and courage in living through our losses, author Martín Prechtel, trained in the Tzutujil Maya shamanic tradition, shares profound insights on the relationship between grief and praise in our culture–how the inability that many of us have to grieve and weep properly for the dead is deeply linked with the inability to give praise for living. In modern society, grief is something that we usually experience in private, alone, and without the support of a community. Yet, as Prechtel says, “Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.”
Die Wise, A manifesto of Sanity and Soul, by Stephen Jenkinson’s book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life. Published by North Atlantic Books.
The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller. “Bringing grief and death out of the shadow is our spiritual responsibility, our sacred duty. By so doing, we may be able to feel our desire for life once again and remember who we are, where we belong, and what is sacred” –Francis Weller "Noted psychotherapist Francis Weller provides an essential guide for navigating the deep waters of sorrow and loss in this lyrical yet practical handbook for mastering the art of grieving. Describing how Western patterns of amnesia and anesthesia affect our capacity to cope with personal and collective sorrows, Weller reveals the new vitality we may encounter when we welcome, rather than fear, the pain of loss. Through moving personal stories, poetry, and insightful reflections he leads us into the central energy of sorrow, and to the profound healing and heightened communion with each other and our planet that reside alongside it.”
Rebellious Mourning, The Collective Work of Grief, Edited by Cindy Milstein. “This intimate, moving, and timely collection of essays points the way to a world in which the burden of grief is shared, and pain is reconfigured into a powerful force for social change and collective healing.”
—Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform
From Here to Eternity, Caitlin Doughty. Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Here to Eternity is an immersive global journey that introduces compelling, powerful rituals almost entirely unknown in America.
Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Studs Terkel. A major new oral history from the Pulitzer Prize-winner, dealing with the universal experience of death. At the age of 88, Studs Terkel has turned to the ultimate human experience, that of death and the possibility of life afterward. Death is the one experience we all share but cannot know. In Studs Terkel's powerful new book, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? a wide range of people address that final experience and its impact on the present in which we live. In talking about the ultimate and unknowable culmination of our lives, these people give voice to their deepest beliefs and hopes, reflecting on the lives they have led and what still lies before them. The result is a book that may well be Terkel's most popular, a universal and deeply moving account of death and religion.
The Encyclopedia of Doris, Cindy Crabb. Cindy Crabb has been writing her influential, autobiographical, feminist zine, Doris, since the early '90s. This new collection offers stories, essays, and interviews from 2001-2011, and it collects issues 19-28 as well as some never before published writings. *Not the whole book is about death but there are a few great essays.
Saying Kaddish, How to Comfort the Dying, Bury the Dead & Mourn as a Jew, Anita Diamant. The definitive guide to Judaism’s end-of-life rituals, revised and updated for Jews of all backgrounds and beliefs From caring for the dying to honoring the dead, Anita Diamant explains the Jewish practices that make mourning a loved one an opportunity to experience the full range of emotions—grief, anger, fear, guilt, relief—and take comfort in the idea that the memory of the deceased is bound up in our lives and actions.
*The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche. An enlightening, inspiring, and comforting manual for life and death that the New York Times calls, “The Tibetan equivalent of [Dante’s] The Divine Comedy,” this is the essential work that moved Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions, to proclaim, “I have encountered no book on the interplay of life and death that is more comprehensive, practical, and wise.
The Pagan Book Of Living and Dying, Starhawk. The definitive guide to Judaism’s end-of-life rituals, revised and updated for Jews of all backgrounds and beliefs. From caring for the dying to honoring the dead, Anita Diamant explains the Jewish practices that make mourning a loved one an opportunity to experience the full range of emotions—grief, anger, fear, guilt, relief—and take comfort in the idea that the memory of the deceased is bound up in our lives and actions.
To Bless the Space Between Us, A Book of Blessings, John O'Donohue. From the author of the bestselling Anam Cara comes a beautiful collection of blessings to help readers through both the everyday and the extraordinary events of their lives.
Anam Cara, A book of Celtic Wisdom. John O'Donohue. John O’Donohue, poet, philosopher, and scholar, guides you through the spiritual landscape of the Irish imagination. In Anam Cara, Gaelic for "soul friend," the ancient teachings, stories, and blessings of Celtic wisdom provide such profound insights on the universal themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death.
Gratitude, Oliver Sacks. During the last few months of his life, Oliver Sacks wrote a set of essays in which he movingly explored his feelings about completing a life and coming to terms with his own death.
Enon, Paul Harding. Paul Harding's second novel charts the decline of a grief-stricken father with bleakness and beauty
When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams. "I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won't look at them until after I'm gone." This is what Terry Tempest Williams's mother, the matriarch of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah, told her a week before she died. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as it was to discover that the three shelves of journals were all blank. In fifty-four short chapters, Williams recounts memories of her mother, ponders her own faith, and contemplates the notion of absence and presence art and in our world.
Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, A STORY OF LOVE AND LOSS INSCRIBED IN PHOTOGRAPHS, POSTCARDS, LETTERS, AND BEDSIDE SKETCHES, Anders Nilson In this collection of letters, drawings, and photos, Anders Nilsen chronicles a six-year relationship and the illness that brought it to an end. Don't Go Where I Can't Follow is an eloquent appreciation of the time the author shared with his fiancée, Cheryl Weaver. The story is told using artifacts of the couple's life together, including early love notes, simple and poetic postcards, tales of their travels in written and comics form, journal entries, and drawings done in the hospital in her final days. It concludes with a beautifully rendered account of Weaver's memorial that Glen David Gold, writing in the Los Angeles Times, called "16 panels of beauty and grace." Don't Go Where I Can't Follow is a deeply personal romance, and a universal reminder of our mortality and the significance of the relationships we build.
Being With Dying, Cultivating compassion and fearlessness inn the presence of death. By Joan Halifax. The Buddhist approach to death can be of great benefit to people of all backgrounds—as has been demonstrated time and again in Joan Halifax’s decades of work with the dying and their caregivers. Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, her work is a source of wisdom for all those who are charged with a dying person’s care, facing their own death, or wishing to explore and contemplate the transformative power of the dying process. Her teachings affirm that we can open and contact our inner strength, and that we can help others who are suffering to do the same.
It’s OK That Your Not OK, Meeting grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, Megan Devine. Many people who have suffered a loss feel judged, dismissed, and misunderstood by a culture that wants to “solve” grief. Megan writes, “Grief no more needs a solution than love needs a solution.” Through stories, research, life tips, and creative and mindfulness-based practices, she offers a unique guide through an experience we all must face—in our personal lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the wider world. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, “happy” life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it.
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion. This powerful book is Didion's attempt to make sense of the "weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."
Healing Your Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas (Healing Your Grieving Heart series), Alan D. Wolfelt. With sensitivity and insight, this series offers suggestions for healing activities that can help survivors learn to express their grief and mourn naturally. Acknowledging that death is a painful, ongoing part of life, it explains how people need to slow down, turn inward, embrace their feelings of loss, and seek and accept support when a loved one dies. Each book, geared for mourning adults, teens, or children, provides ideas and action-oriented tips that teach the basic principles of grief and healing. These ideas and activities are aimed at reducing the confusion, anxiety, and huge personal void so that living their lives can begin again.
Being Mortal. Medicine, and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande. In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter. Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar--a man adrift in the wake of his wife's sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons who like him struggle in their London apartment to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness, while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised.
Ambiguous Loss, Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief. Pauline Boss. Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar--a man adrift in the wake of his wife's sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons who like him struggle in their London apartment to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness, while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised.
H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald. Helen Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of nature's most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel's temperament mirrors Helen's own state of grief after her father's death, and together raptor and human "discover the pain and beauty of being alive" (People). H Is for Hawk is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices.
The Friend, Sigrid Nunez. When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building. While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.
The Cancer Journals, Audre Lorde. Moving between journal entry, memoir, and exposition, Audre Lorde fuses the personal and political as she reflects on her experience coping with breast cancer and a radical mastectomy.
Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Based on his own experience and the stories of his patients, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. At the heart of his theory, known as logotherapy, is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful.
Advice For Future Corpses, Sallie Tisdale. You get ready to die the way you get ready for a trip. Start by realizing you don't know the way. Read a few travel guides. Study the language, look at maps, gather equipment. Let yourself imagine what it will be like. Pack your bags. This book is one of those travel guides-a guide to preparing for your own death and the deaths of people close to you.The fact of death is hard to believe. Sallie Tisdale explores our fears and all the ways death and talking about death make us uncomfortable-but she also explores its intimacies and joys. Tisdale looks at grief, what the last days and hours of life are like, and what happens to dead bodies. Advice for Future Corpses includes exercises designed to make you think differently about the inevitable. She includes practical advice, personal experience, a little Buddhist philosophy, and stories.
They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib. In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Abdurraqib's is a voice that matters. Whether he's attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown's grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly. In the wake of the nightclub attacks in Paris, he recalls how he sought refuge as a teenager in music, at shows, and wonders whether the next generation of young Muslims will not be afforded that opportunity now. While discussing the everyday threat to the lives of black Americans, Abdurraqib recounts the first time he was ordered to the ground by police officers: for attempting to enter his own car.
The Eleventh Hour, Barbara Karnes. The hours to minutes before imminent death are generally filled with fear and helplessness for anyone at the bedside. Fear because we have inaccurate role models from movies and TV and helplessness because there is no "fixing" death. This brings the question, "What do we do?" "The Eleventh Hour" is a booklet that offers information, ideas and support on how to care for a person in the hours to minutes before death and just after. The aim of this booklet is to help those present at the bedside create a meaningful, comforting memory of their loved one's journey from life in this world. For the hands-on-caregiver, family, or professional, "The Eleventh Hour" is a guiding resource. It is appropriate as a textbook for volunteer training in Transitional and Vigil programs, for nursing facilities, and for parish nursing and Hospice/Palliative Care teaching.
When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron. The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties.
Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach. Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical Acceptance. Radical Acceptance does not mean self-indulgence or passivity. Instead it empowers genuine change: healing fear and shame and helping to build loving, authentic relationships. When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives.
Tiny Beautiful Things, Advice on Love & Life from Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed. “This beloved Internet advice columnist, using the pseudonym Sugar, revealed herself in early 2012 to be the acclaimed novelist and memoirist Strayed. First appearing on the Rumpus in 2010, her column ‘Dear Sugar’ quickly attracted a large and devoted following with its cut-to-the-quick aphorisms like ‘Write like a motherf*cker’ and ‘Be brave enough to break your own heart.’ This collection gathers up the best of Sugar, whose trademark is deeply felt and frank responses grounded in her own personal experience
Heaven’s Coast, a memoir, Mark Doty. The year is 1989 and Mark Doty's life has reached a state of enviable equilibrium. His reputation as a poet of formidable talent is growing, he enjoys his work as a college professor and, perhaps most importantly, he is deeply in love with his partner of many years, Wally Roberts. The harmonious existence these two men share is shattered, however, when they learn that Wally has tested positive for the HIV virus. From diagnosis to the initial signs of deterioration to the heartbreaking hour when Wally is released from his body's ruined vessel, Heaven's Coastis an intimate chronicle of love, its hardships, and its innumerable gifts. We witness Doty's passage through the deepest phase of grief -- letting his lover go while keeping him firmly alive in memory and heart -- and, eventually beyond, to the slow reawakening of the possibilities of pleasure. Part memoir, part journal, part elegy for a life of rare communication and beauty, Heaven's Coast evinces the same stunning honesty, resplendent descriptive power and rapt attention to the physical landscape that has won Doty's poetry such attention and acclaim.
A Grief Observed. C.S. Lewis, Written after his wife's tragic death as a way of surviving the "mad midnight moment," A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis's honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: "Nothing will shake a man -- or at any rate a man like me -- out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.
Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, Yumi Sakugawa. Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe will set you free on a visual journey of self-discovery. Set against a surreal backdrop of intricate ink illustrations, you will find nine metaphysical lessons with dreamlike instructions that require you to open your heart to unexplored inner landscapes. From setting fire to your anxieties to sharing a cup of tea with your inner demons, you will learn how to let go and truly connect with the world around you.
Dear Universe, Yolo Akili. Dear Universe is a lighthearted and insightful collection of inspirational letters-- that invites each of us to transform our social and spiritual lives. Written by Akili over the span of many years working as a counselor and educator, each letter glimmers with both the joy of self-realization and a universal wisdom that echoes across the page.
The Way Through the Woods, on mushrooms and mourning by Long Litt Woon. (About her husbands sudden death, “parallel journeys: an inner one, through the landscape of mourning, and an outer one, into the fascinating realm of mushrooms- resilient, adaptable, and essential to nature’s cycle of death and rebirth”
It’s Okay to Laugh, Nora McInnerny. The author of It’s Okay to Laugh and host of the popular podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking returns with more hilarious meditations on her messy, wonderful, bittersweet, and unconventional life. Life has a million different ways to kick you right in the chops. We lose love, lose jobs, lose our sense of self. For Nora McInerny, it was losing her husband, her father, and her unborn second child in one catastrophic year. But in the wake of loss, we get to assemble something new from whatever is left behind.
The Undying, Anne Boyer. A week after her forty-first birthday, the acclaimed poet Anne Boyer was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living paycheck to paycheck who had always been the caregiver rather than the one needing care, the catastrophic illness was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness.
Holding Space: On Loving, Dying & Letting Go, Amy Wright Glenn. A look at the spiritual, emotional, and philosophical implications of end-of-life care by an elegant and literary writer who is a hospital chaplain. As a hospital chaplain, Amy Wright Glenn has been present with those suffering from suicide, trauma, disease, and unforeseen accidents and has been witness to the intense grief and powerful insights that so often accompany loss. She weaves together memoir, philosophical inquiry, and cutting-edge research on death/dying to chronicle how we, as individuals and as a culture, handle everything from grief to mortality.
PICTURE BOOKS/KIDS BOOKS
Duck, Death And the Tulip, written and illustrated by Wolf Elbruch. In a strangely heart-warming story, a duck strikes up an unlikely friendship with Death. Death, Duck and the Tulip will intrigue, haunt and enchant readers of all ages. Simple, unusual, warm and witty, this book deals with a difficult subject in a way that is elegant, straightforward, and thought-provoking.
Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi. Aware their grandmother is gravely ill, four siblings make a pact to keep death from taking her away. But Death does arrive all the same, as it must. He comes gently, naturally. And he comes with enough time to share a story with the children that helps them to realize the value of loss to life and the importance of being able to say goodbye.
Concerning The Book That is The Body of the Beloved, Gregory Orr. In his eighth, a confident, mystical, expansive project, whose very clear short poems (almost 200 of them) constitute a meditation and ritual for grieving a lost beloved.
What the Living Do, Marie Howe. Informed by the death of a beloved brother, here are the stories of childhood, its thicket of sex and sorrow and joy, boys and girls growing into men and women, stories of a brother who in his dying could teach how to be most alive. What the Living Do reflects "a new form of confessional poetry, one shared to some degree by other women poets such as Sharon Olds and Jane Kenyon. Unlike the earlier confessional poetry of Plath, Lowell, Sexton et al., Howe's writing is not so much a moan or a shriek as a song.
The art of losing, poems of grief and healing- a collected poetry book. The Art of Losing is the first anthology of its kind, delivering poetry with a purpose. Editor Kevin Young has introduced and selected 150 devastatingly beautiful poems that embrace the pain and heartbreak of mourning. Divided into five sections (Reckoning, Remembrance, Rituals, Recovery, and Redemption), with poems by some of our most beloved poets as well as the best of the current generation of poets, The Art of Losing is the ideal gift for a loved one in a time of need and for use by therapists, ministers, rabbis, and palliative care workers who tend to those who are experiencing loss. Among the poets included: Elizabeth Alexander, W. H. Auden, Amy Clampitt, Billy Collins, Emily Dickinson, Louise Gluck, Ted Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Kenneth Koch, Philip Larkin, Li-Young Lee, Philip Levine, Marianne Moore, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Robert Pinsky, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, Derek Walcott, and James Wright.
Thirst, Mary Oliver. Thirst, a collection of forty three new poems from Pulitzer Prizewinner Mary Oliver, introduces two new directions in the poet's work. Grappling with grief at the death of her beloved partner of over forty years, she strives to experience sorrow as a path to spiritual progress, grief as part of loving and not its end. And within these pages she chronicles for the frst time her discovery of faith, without abandoning the love of the physical world that has been a hallmark of her work for four decades.
Teeth, Aracelis Girmay. Teeth explores loves, wars, wild hope, defiance, and the spirit of creativity in a daring use of language and syntax. Behind this language one senses a powerful, inventive woman who is not afraid to tackle any subject, including rape, genocide, and love, always sustained by an optimistic voice, assuring us that in the end justice will triumph and love will persevere.
Kingdom Animilia, Aracelis Girmay. The poems in this highly anticipated second book are elegiac poems, as concerned with honoring our dead as they are with praising the living. Through Aracelis Girmay's lens, everything is animal: the sea, a jukebox, the desert. In these poems, everything possesses a system of desire, hunger, a set of teeth, and language. These are poems about what is both difficult and beautiful about our time here on earth.
ZINES & COMICS
The Worst, A compilation Zine on Grief and Loss. The Worst is a compilation zine in 3 issues (self-published in 2008, 2010, and 2013) where contributors were invited to share their experiences with grief and loss. Many authors write from outside the mainstream models for grieving, or about specific kinds of losses that receive little validation in our society. The zine particularly seeks to attend to those who've felt shut out or silenced in their grief, who are not seen or understood, and who find little comfort in the few grief rituals capitalist society offers to us. Though no calls for submissions are active at the moment, this is a place to preserve the dialogues, ideas, experiences, and community of the zine.
On The Beach, Eben Kling. A book dealing with the concepts and themes of death, identity, greid and the passage of time. Eben tells the story of his fathers life and death in this comic book influenced narrative. “I don’t recall how I came about to begin this project which led me to comics. I do remember however, the relief that I began to experience after drawing the very first page. I realized in that moment that I didn’t need to work with the idea of my father, but rather, I needed to talk about him directly. The narrative richness inherent in the medium that is comics offered itself to me freely and has influenced my practice in substantial way.” –Eben Kling @ebenkling or darkpatterns.bigcartel.com
Weave The Water in the Wood, Poetic wanderings and shared knowledge on willow, weaving, living, tending, and dying. “A collection of poetic wanderings and shared knowledge on willow, weaving, living, tending, and dying. ‘What threads of ritual, relationship, and story are we to follow as we come in, move through, and go out of this life? How can we listen for the distant flute or bell or voice that leads us through the thresholds and is living inside us or right next door? To find out more: Instagram @woventhresholds and woventhresholds.com
Rosalie Lightning, A Graphic Memoir by Tom Hart. ROSALIE LIGHTNING is Eisner-nominated cartoonist Tom Hart's touching and beautiful graphic memoir about the untimely death of his young daughter, Rosalie. His heart-breaking and emotional illustrations strike readers to the core, and take them along his family's journey through loss. Hart uses the graphic form to articulate his and his wife's on-going search for meaning in the aftermath of Rosalie's death, exploring themes of grief, hopelessness, rebirth, and eventually finding hope again. Hart creatively portrays the solace he discovers in nature, philosophy, great works of literature, and art across all mediums in this expressively honest and loving tribute to his baby girl. Rosalie Lighting is a graphic masterpiece chronicling a father's undying love.
Our Cancer Year, Harvey Pekar & Joyce Brabner. It was they year of Desert Storm that Harvey Pekar and his wife, Joyce Brabner, discovered Harvey had cancer. Pekar, a man who has made a profession of chronicling the Kafkaesque absurdities of an ordinary life (if any life is ordinary) suddenly found himself incapacitated. But he had a better-than-average chance to beat cancer and he took it — kicking, screaming, and complaining all the way. Pekar and Brabner draw on this and other trials to paint a portrait of a man beset with fears real and imagined — who survives.
Fun Home, A Family Tragicomic, Alison Bechdel. In this graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the Fun Home. It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
Cultivating Closure, Jess Reigle. Cultivating closure is a little book about processing grief, trauma and change by using magic and a deeper connection to earth cycles.
This is Your Brain on Grief, What to Do and Say (and Not) for Yourself and Others. Microcosm Publishing bestseller Dr. Faith adds to her series of zines, writing this time about grief. It's hard to imagine anyone else being able to make understanding the grieving process... well, funny, while also being genuine and compassionate. As always, Faith nails it. This zine contains words of solace and helpful wisdom for when you're dealing with grief... but most of all it's full of helpful advice for when you are trying to figure out how to support someone else in their grief and what to say. Grieving is a natural part of life, and having the space to do it the way you need to is vital. Show this zine to the people around you when you need them to give you that space and comfort.
Greif, Gratitude & Greatness Podcast by Sarah Shaoul. “Grief, Gratitude & Greatness is a show that explores the different ways we grieve, the gratitude that allows us to persevere, and the greatness we occupy- one conversation at a time.”
Unlocking Us, Brene Brown's podcast- Episode from Match 31, 2020 with David Kessler, about grief, love, loss and finding meaninng.
Against Everyone w/Conner Habib—Episode #8 with Caitlin Doughty
Fresh Air interview with Tig Notaro called ‘Comic Tig Notaro Wants
You to Know She’s ‘Happy to be Here’ there are a bunch of other
interviews with her as well as a tv show called ‘One Mississippi’
Kaddish Podcast—mourning ritual & custom using Jewish tradition
On Being Podcast. Below are particular episodes related to death, grief, and care:
*JOAN HALIFAX, compassions edge states
*IRA BYOCK, contemplating mortality
*JOANNA MACY, a wild love for the world
*BJ MILLER, reframing our relationship to that we don't control
*PAULINE BOSS, navigating loss without closure
*GRACE LEE BOGS
*JEAN VANIER, the wisdom of tenderness
*JANE GROSS, the far shore of aging
*ALAN DIENSTAG, Alzheimer’s & the spiritual terrain of memory
*EVE ENSLER, the body after cancer
*NADIA BOLZ WEBER, seeing the underside, god/tattoos/tradition/grace
*ELLEN LANGER, science of mindlessness and mindfulness
*SHERWIN NULAND, biology of the spirit + author of HOW WE DIE
Terrible, Thanks for Asking. Nora McInerny is tired of small talk. "I don't want small talk ..." she says on her podcast. "I want the big talk." McInerny's show is called Terrible, Thanks for Asking, and she begins each interview with the same question: How are you? The responses she gets go way beyond the typical "I'm fine." McInerny deals with death, loss and coming through trauma. But her approach to these tough subjects is saturated with love and humor.
New Dimensions radio, Episode: https://newdimensions.org/communicating-across-the-veil-of-death-with-cynthia-spring/
Terry Grose interview: Miller survived that 1990 accident but lost both legs below the knee and half of one arm. Coming close to death and dealing with pain and disability inspired him to go into medicine and the field of disability rights. As a palliative care physician at the University of California San Francisco's Cancer Center, Miller draws on his own experiences to help people with their physical, emotional and spiritual pain at the end of their lives. His new book, with co-author Shoshana Berger, is A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/12/03/784401787/after-a-freak-accident-a-doctor-finds-insight-into-living-life-and-facing-death
WPR.ORG 'Rethinking our relationship to grief. Just search ‘wpr, rethinking our relationship to grief.’ Deep grief or loss is a universal experience. However, our guest, who has lived grief, argues that our cultural models of grief our broken. This hour we explore a different way of looking at grief, tools that help grieving people and those who love them, and ways to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it. With host Dean Kallenbach and Megan Devine.
ARTICLES/BLOG POSTS I FOUND ON THE INTERNET
*Search: ‘SHAUNGATORE- medicine for regret’
*Search: ‘The Geography of Sorrow, Francis Weller on navigating our losses, sun magazine, 2015”
*Search: ‘In grief try personal rituals, the atlantic’
*Search: ‘the strangeness of grief, the new Yorker, 2020”
*Search: ‘Mythic Medicine, blogpost’: “angelica” and “death&life&love&babies”
*Search: ‘Cynthia Shemmer, blogpost, “like you look like her”
*Search: ONE BOUQUET OF FLEETING BEAUTY
*Search: Whole Living, the long goodbye
*The music of Emily Sprague of the band Florist who makes a lot of music about her mom’s death.
*The sad & beautiful song For Boxer by Kimya Dawson
*Newspaper: The End of Life Times, A Reimagine Community Newspaper. www.letsreimagine.org
“Reimagine End of Life is a community-driven exploration of death and celebration of life through creativity and conversation. We break down taboos and inspire diverse communities to prepare, remember, wonder, and live fully right up until the end. Join us as we reimagine (end of) life together”
Other Things that helped:
Breathwork. There are lots of practitioners out there, I have loved working with Jennifer Patterson, https://corpusritual.com
This meditative activity I made up. This is how I was trying to approach being in the room with Ruth when she was dying, to just show up, to not want or need anything, just to be a witness, to be big hearted and present. Sometimes it was hard to be in the bedroom where Ruth was dying, I felt insecure, stuck in my head, uncomfortable, so I made up a ritual to help me—I would name things. I would look around the room and say to myself ‘there is Ruth’ ‘there is Ruth in her bed’ ‘there is Grace’ ‘there is the squirrel outside the window’ ‘there are flowers in a vase.’ It took me into the space and out of my head.
Friends and Community: there is too much to say here about how my friends saved me, but I will say that sometimes it hurts so much that you just want to be alone, it can be hard to ask for what you need or say what you want, but it is really important to try. You can tell them what you need: Can you edit the obituary I just wrote? I need to get it to the paper by tonight. Hey can you bring me a coffee and just sit with me?
Can you drive me to the place where I have to pick up her ashes? Can we go for a walk? Will you look at pictures of them with me and ask me questions about her? It was so uncomfortable for me to ask for what I needed, but I could see that my friends genuinely wanted to help, they were showing up and I knew it would be ok to be specific about what I needed. People that love you can feel lost in how best to show up for you- IT IS
OKAY TO TELL THEM WHAT YOU NEED OR WANT.
Tattoos: I have been getting tattooed for much of my adult life and this ritual now felt very helpful to ground me in my body, mark time and memorialize.But also to feel something that’s physical pain matched my emotional hurt. *However, the professionals do say ‘don’t make any big changes right after a loss’ so I would be very thoughtful with this one- especially if you aren’t someone who already has a relationship to tattoos/a tattooed body.
Flower Essences for Grief: so many different ones made by different people, they can often be found at Health Food Stores, Apothecaries or you can do an online search: ‘Flower essences for grief’ or ‘flower essences for the heart.’ I found having a little bottle of gentle medicine was/is very comforting for me. *There are so many cool people doing really work with flower essences, so ask around or do some online searches and see what you find.
Teas & Infusions. A few that I loved and found comforting during that time: Oatstraw & Milky oat tops, Rose, Lemon Balm, Skullcap, Nettle & Alfalfa. *Some herbs have contradictions so please talk to someone at a
health food store/apothecary, find a book on herbs at the library or FIND A LOCAL HERBALIST they can recommend herbs and blends specifically for what you are experiencing and will be able to inform you about any contradictions.
Getting outside of indoor places: Walks, looking up at the stars, swimming, hiking, sitting on a bench drinking a cup of coffee on a freezing cold morning, weeding a garden, drinking a beer at the picnic table, tea on the porch, sit by a fire.
Other: Showers & baths, adopting an old cat to live with us, dancing, writing them (the dead) letters, burning candles, lighting incense, making altars, making offerings, picking flowers, sleeping, exercise- getting my heart rate up, spending time with other people that loved them/knew them well, listening to my favorite music (or their favorite music) really really loudly, therapy, grief support groups.