Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer Reading.

In keeping with my continued work this summer with the Grief Group, I've been doing a lot of reading around loss, bereavement, end of life, grief, etc.  (Because what is summer without a little light reading?)  I have found a few of the books to be really valuable, helpful, and easy to relate to, so I'm going to review them here and on my website.  I hope you find them helpful, as well.

When Parents Die, Rebecca Abrams.
I have read a lot of books about grief and loss, including quite a few on losing a parent, and this is hands down the best one I've read.  The lovely thing about it is that it's really applicable to the loss of any loved one, not just a parent. The other lovely thing about it is that while it is ostensibly geared toward children and young people who lose a parent, an adult having just suffered a loss could read it and absolutely feel understood and comforted.

Abrams knows whereof she speaks, having lost her father and stepfather almost within the same year; a year during which she was attending University and struggling to begin an adult life.  She describes her story, feelings, and experiences, as well as those of other subjects, so well and so clearly that a reader can completely identify and feel understood.  She describes the different kinds of losses it is possible to experience - public, private, other changes - and how they can persist and need to be acknowledged.  She also discusses mourning and its progress and includes ways to live through it.

"Getting on with life does not mean you must forget all about the past, but rather that you  must make a place for the past in the present and the future."  I like this so much more than the accepted 'get over it.'

This is a book you could give a young person, a teenager, someone in their 20's, 30's, 40's, and on and feel sure you had given them something comforting and helpful.  The author is British, although I found the book easily on Amazon, and all the resources in the back, while good, are only applicable to the UK.  I highly recommend!  ****

Living at the End of Life, Karen Whitley Bell.
I really liked this compassionate, friendly book about what to do when you've reached the last few months with your loved one.  It is informative, explanatory and easy to read, and dispels some of the myths and misunderstandings about hospice care.  I found that Bell really knew her stuff; her book was relatable and gave easy to understand advice and explanations about what the end will look like and the steps families might want to take to make the experience as comfortable and smooth as possible.

 If at times a wee bit precious and smug, and possibly even condescending, the author certainly has the chops to frame her book however she likes.  She has obviously put in the time experiencing end of life events and issues with individuals and families to be able to speak about her subject with confidence.

She gives a lot of really good, easy to understand information, that someone going through the process can refer to again and again.  For those of us trying to spread the word about the many benefits of hospice care, this book is perfect. ***

The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe.
Changing gears just a little, this is a memoir about Schwalbe's experience with his mother's illness and end of life and the ways they connected as her illness progressed.  Both Schwalbe and his mother are obviously cultured and erudite, and they love books, so they create their own book club to be discussed during his mother's long chemo appointments.  Each recommends their favorite books to the other throughout and discover at the same time that they are sharing parts of themselves.

Most of the books they read are deep, heavy, complex, or all three, although many are also classics.  Although I found I had only read one or two of their choices due to my proclivity for lighter fiction, I did go on to read, and enjoy, a few that they recommended.  I appreciate that Schwalbe shares his experiences of grief and loss, because they are so common to all of us.

What is really lovely, however, is sharing their relationship as they progress through the years, and events, of terminal illness. You get to know Schwalbe, his mother, and their family, and live with them through a brief time.  I really enjoyed this memoir and I recommend it.  ***

Don't forget to tune in to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's Care Connection Teleconference on Thursday, September 12, 2013 from1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. (ET) to hear me speak and/or speak to me!

'This free teleconference is designed for both family caregivers and professional caregivers of individuals with dementia. Joy Walker, hospice worker, bereavement counselor, and author of "Three Years and Thirteen Dumpsters" will discuss "Living Choices at the End of Life." Call toll-free: 877-594-8353. Guest identification number: 46692951#'

1 comment:

  1. Does it make me strange to want to explore mortality quite often? I hope not. But thank you for the very cool suggestions. I will be buying and reading one of these today. Great minds share great names!