When There Are No Words: Finding Your Way to Cope with Loss and Grief
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Written from the perspective of losing a child, it's also valuable if you've lost a spouse, parent, sibling, or someone else very close to you. Some of the content is useful to the grief-stricken immediately upon their loss (how to handle the immediate aftermath)--other ideas are valuable months or years later. I send every close friend dealing with a hard death this book as quickly as possible--sadly, I've had to purchase two the past two weeks. I often hear the same reaction--that Charlie's words were helpful. The economy of words is also useful--it packs a lot of advice into just over 100 small pages. Who can slog through 395 dense pages when you can't think straight? If you or a friend have just experienced the death of someone you really loved, I'd start with this book.
This book brought some emotions out for me. I had a few tears while reading it. I've always thought there should be something to read that talks to you about what you are feeling right now and if it's real, lasting, temporary, or abnormal. This is a fairly short book. I finished it in a day. In the back you'll find an excellent list of support organizations.
I remember thinking, "Does anyone realize what's going on inside me? Why do they not understand?! Will it ever stop hurting?" You'll want to 'go through' the experience with the author. He expertly and compassionately takes you through the experience and gives comfort and insight throughout, including quite a bit of practical advice in narrative form rather than 'to-do' lists. This is NOT the book you'll want that tells you when to take off your wedding ring, how to choose the flowers for the funeral, or how to handle new responsibilities. This is more about your feelings and emotions and how best to get through the place you are at the moment in your journey.
The chapters are short and easy to read and understand. There were times when all I could do was read a scripture, and hang on to that. A book--any book--was just too much. I wish I had known about this one earlier. You may want to start out with it when you can, as soon as you can. The section on HUGS comes to mind. The author writes in great detail about hugs. Thinking about it makes me smile.
The author said, "It's not a thing anybody can make it through...until they have no choice. Once there's no choice... you do it... one painful breath after another."
That's so true. I've always said something similar when people said something about my own experience. I don't have the courage to go through that again. I didn't have it before the accident. I believe God gives us the courage we need, when we need it.
There was information I would have found helpful about our reactions at the time of the, as he puts it, "monumental catastrophe" and how even though we may look calm, part of us isn't even there. That part of this book has some insight that may be worth your time. It spoke to me.
There was a chapter about the heavy load that none can understand without experiencing it. He stresses throughout the book though that we don't all grieve the same way, not even if we lost the same loved ones.
He explains WHY we should let our friends and loved ones do things for us, even when we haven't even noticed that those things needed to be done. He also talks about the 'dumb' things people say and our reactions to them. Back to that "hug" idea again. That may be the most important part of this book for me. He talks about the inevitable guilt we feel. We can figure out a way to make whatever happened our fault. He also talks about how it feels to meet people months or even years later who don't know about the death(s) and what it's like to see them experience being told for the first time, while we go through the pain again.
He talks about the "stuff" and how and when to let go of it and how being busy is either helpful or not. He even talks about getting mad at God. There's a section dealing with the statistics that show that marriages sometimes suffer after the death of a child and he gives his perspective on that.
Still another important part of this book is about time healing our wounds and that it doesn't heal completely. "I experience the full force of the emotional hurricane over and over again... but with longer periods of quiet in between." Exactly.
If you want something more in-depth and with lots of hand holding don't buy this book. This one gets to the point quickly and it's useful information. It's a good place to start your journey and slowly wind your way into larger, more detailed books on grief.