Finding resources to help cope with grief is not easy. Grief is such a deeply personal experience and the myriad of feelings that go with it are to a great extent dependent on the circumstances surrounding it.
The emotions involved are complex, diverse, confusing and evolve over time. And grief is a never ending journey. It's not that we get over it, but that we learn to live with it. The feelings soften, change, lessen, ease, but don't go away - and like a rollercoaster, there are unexpected dips and turns that throw us even at a point where we think we may have reached some sense of stability. That's not to say we can't fully re-enter life and find happiness and hope - that's exactly why I put up this website, after reaching the absolute edge of despair, I am now able to feel happiness and am more fully involved in life again. Perhaps I can help someone else on their journey to reach that place.
Western society in general finds it tough to deal with grief. The intensity of our emotional outpouring can be difficult for those who have not been through this experience; many simply do not know how to respond or offer comfort. And even though we may gain comfort from someone who understands grief in general, empathy for our situation can probably only truly be felt when we meet someone who has been through a very similar experience.
For these reasons, grief can be an intensely lonely experience as well as personally devastating.
On my own journey, I had a friend who, sadly, had experienced a very similar loss. He was a life saver for me. His own experience had been two years earlier and he was able to see in me the times that were my toughest - and was there to help. I was also fortunate to have the help of a MacMillan nurse who gave me a great deal of strength and offered advice at a critical stage.
I was also desperate to find answers - that in itself led me to seek information from a number of sources. In time, I will endeavour to explain more fully the journey and the resources that have helped me. In the meantime, below is a list of reading and other media I found useful. I have tried to put them in roughly chronological order and to describe the kind of support, comfort or information I gleaned from each. Timing, as in so many things, can make a big difference. You can only take things in when you are ready. There's a brief description for each, reviews in more detail for some and I will add more as I go along. Ultimately, I know your journey is unique and you must make your own choices about what to read, view, listen to - and when. These are my personal experiences thoughts and opinions, I offer them in the hope that something might resonate.
A Grief Observed
Philosopher, scholar and writer C S Lewis (best know for The Chronicles of Narnia) offers a searingly and painfully honest diary of grief after the loss of his wife.
The Grief Club
A collection of personal stories of grief, including those of Beattie herself who lost her son and husband. Reading, sharing and joining the "club" can offer identity and catharsis.
The Language of Letting Go
This became a "bible" for me and I still read something from it almost daily. Melody Beattie wrote this on her year long travels, reflecting on her own journey through growth and renewal.
Healing Through the Dark Emotions
Psychotherapist Miriam Greenspan's deeply intelligent analysis of the need for us to face the darkest of emotions and push through them rather than avoid them. Informed partly by her own experience, this book is both wise and practical.
When Things Fall Apart
One of the hardest things to embrace, is the notion that intense pain is also an opportunity for learning and growth - this book by Pema Chodron unlocked that for me with compassion and wisdom
The Places That Scare You
Fear was a major factor for me in dealing with grief, particularly fear about the future. This book was invaluable in teaching me to stay open and face into that. More wisdom and practicality from Pema Chodron.
The Power of Vulnerability
American psychologist Brene Brown has been researching connection, shame and vulnerability for 10 years. This extraordinary 20 minute video packs a powerful message, delivered emphatically and humour.
The Global Retreat Centre
This is both an online and offline resource if you are lucky enough to be near Oxfordshire. Meditation is a challenging practice. But I was desperate to find a way to still that horrendous roll of grief related thoughts in my mind. Enter The Global Retreat Centre.
Deepak and Oprah Meditation
A friend introduced me to this and I started on a free 21 day online course, which they run regularly. These are guided meditations with narratives from Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. Aside from improving meditation practice, they are full of wise advice and facilitate personal development. I now listen daily.