There are a lot of books on grief. And trust me, the last thing you want to do when you are grieving is find the right book! My go-to book for grief has historically been Megan Devine’s “It’s OK that you’re not OK”, and I still do recommend it often. However, Devine has a pretty dark and irreverent take on grief – which to some people can be a relief an some people find it quite off-putting. So I’ve been looking for an alternative, and I think I’ve found it.
This book is written “calendar” style, from January 1 to December 31 with a short passage each day. I have not written a summary of this book, because it is too hard to encapsulate the message of this book without plagiarizing the book itself, which I don’t do. There is not a “theme” for each month (it would be easier to summarize if there was), but I appreciate that about the book – if your loved one dies in May, you don’t have to wait until the following January to start. You could start this book at any time and find it very useful.
Another thing people often don’t realize is that grieving people often find it hard to read. I’ve given Megan Devine’s book to grieving folks who said there was no way they could read a book cover to cover. Indeed, after my own brother died, I couldn’t read for over a year. It’s one of the reasons I really like this book – I don’t think it took me more than 5 minutes to read any particular day – which is just about the concentration level a lot of grieving people have.
I think there are three basic things you will get from this book. The first is a lot of just basic educational information and validation about what the grieving process looks like, what is normal (spoiler: just about anything!) and what you can expect. If you know about grief, some of these passages might seem basic, but I think you can’t be reminded enough what is normal, and that you are normal when you are in the middle of grieving. Even as a therapist, I knew this stuff but I didn’t know it until I found myself in it.
Secondly, there are tons of little ideas. Simple exercises that anyone could do to explore grief, soften it or understand what it means to you. Again, these suggestions are simple; it’s not that anyone else would never think of them. It’s that when you are grieving, you lose some of your creative thinking – and even stuff you know is hard to remember. So interspersed in the book at good intervals are little activities that you can do to see if they help.
Lastly, Forsythe shares specific resources. I love this so much, because so many authors only want to only “advertise” their own brand or build their own following. Not so with Forsythe. Whatever she thinks would be helpful, she is willing to share. She suggests things you can google for more information (I think because she knows these things change over time, like local grief groups), and she also shares specific organizations or information that might be helpful.
Bonus: on many of the pages, there are quotes about grief from various famous people, some of whom I never knew dealt with grief. I found these quotes to be very encouraging and helpful, and also gave me some ideas about who I might “follow” or “read” outside of just this book.
All in all, I think it’s a must to have this book on hand to give or share with grieving clients, or if you are grieving yourself (and let’s face it, we all will, won’t we?). Link to purchase is below.