Enough people seem to reach out to me for book recommendations that they can give to their grieving Mom friends (usually, it’s for a Mom who has lost a baby full term), that I felt writing this blog would be helpful. A couple of weeks ago my friend texted me with this request, adding, “I’m sure you remember how much help and love and support is necessary to help heal”. It’s a beautiful thing to watch people come together and rally to help those in need. Losing a baby is most definitely a heavy stage – a weight, that, at the time, can feel eternal. I am always happy to help those in this unfortunate situation, having experienced it myself.
After delivering our full term, stillborn baby in March 2009, journaling and reading helped me immensely. My top two, must reads (first two listed) books below, are not child-death specific, so these books can be used to help many people in life trying to find strength for many different reasons. These books are good for anyone that might be in need of some strength after suffering a loss, I call them my spiritual survival books:
BROKEN OPEN, How difficult times can help us grow, by Elizabeth Lesser – My #1 on this list. It was gifted to me by someone who was divorcing, so it is not loss specific, just how to grow from difficult times. It became my bible. I remember feeling sad putting it down once I had finished reading it, because it had brought me so much comfort every night.
MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING, by Viktor Frankl – A best seller and a quick read. He was an Austrian psychologist that survived the nazi death camps. He didn’t write the book to detail the horrors but to teach lessons on spiritual survival. It’s pretty amazing. Lessons like, it’s not what you expect from life, it’s what life expects from you, and how you always have a choice how to react to any given situation. Everyone should read this book. Even the person passing along this list.
AN EXACT REPLICA OF A FIGMENT OF MY IMAGINATION, by Elizabeth McCracken – Written by an author who lost a baby at full term. It is her story. It is always nice to know you are not alone and that others felt what you feel and made it through such horrific experiences.
EMPTY CRADLE BROKEN HEART, by Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D. – Yup. Pretty heart breaking title. But don’t shy away from this book (more like a guide) because of fear of strong emotions. The hospital where I delivered gave me this book. The subtitle is, “Surviving the Death of Your Baby” and it helps you do just that.
LIFE TOUCHES LIFE, A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing, by Lorraine Ash – Another author who had a stillborn baby. She explains how she made it through such difficult emotional terrain and how she grew in a positive way, as a person. There is a beautiful poem from this book that I’ve shared with many who have lost loved ones. It seems to resonate with a lot of people. Subtly teaches you that those we love are always with us:
THE PLACES THAT SCARE YOU, A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, by Pema Chodron – (Author of another good one, Comfortable with uncertainty) “We start with our well-laid plans, but life blows them apart.” Another book that teaches one to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions. A book that can be applied to all aspects of life.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross writes on death and life after death, as well. I stayed away from most of her stuff as she writes about the 5 stages of grief – stages I never felt I went through (failure, anger etc…). But, I did find a few of her books that interested me. One is about how to help people die and loved ones cope (including how to talk to kids). It is called, “Living with Death and Dying”. I’ve seen how most fear death and even hate to say the word (so and so “passed away”) so to learn to accept and to help others be at peace and let go and to not be afraid, I felt was invaluable. She is definitely an author that should be included in this list, at one’s own discretion. (I will write another blog on grief and book recommendations for kids and grief, and I will include her. This is especially helpful if you have older kids that are also living through the loss of a baby.)
As the quote reads, “We start with our well-laid plans, but life blows them apart.” When you lose a child, your life definitely blows apart, and all of your plans instantly change. To not only accept change but to embrace it is something that these books helped me learn. If I can help others learn these gifts, and find strength and light through such a dark time, I think they will be far ahead (and in a better place to help possible older siblings cope).
Wishing you peace & calm.