Updated: March 14, 2019 ~ Recommendations can be found halfway down the page.
When you are recently diagnosed or bereaved, people are frantic to help you solve your problem. This is well-intentioned but can often be annoying. Especially when advice comes from the 'Solutions People.'
When my mother-in-law’s breast cancer returned for the third time in 2009 (and was stage IV) - I was living many states away and in my desperation to be helpful I kept sending her cookbooks with names like “Cooking with Cancer.” I was a student and used my academic library privileges to send her countless articles on breast cancer. If the article had the words ‘breast’ and ‘cancer’ in the synopsis, it most certainly landed in her inbox. I’m sure she was rolling her ideas and hitting delete.
Image from Emily McDowell Studio, one of the cards in her Empathy Line.
I wanted to be able to contribute whatever I could towards her health, and my helplessness left me frantic, clinging to the smallest ideas and pushing them her way - and likely overwhelming her.
While uninformed medical advice is rarely appreciated, resources on where to turn can most certainly be helpful. It's most useful to have them when you are ready to access them and not to have them stuffed down your throat (or in my mother-in-law’s case, in her mailbox).
If you find yourself in the position of trying to support someone who is sick or bereaved, it can be helpful to pass along resources digitally (so that it can be searched for later in the email archive), but be sure not to bombard the person with numerous emails oozing with solutions/answers/studies/recipes/etc.
Another from Emily McDowell Studio.
I’ve been reading about grief pretty consistently since my sister died. Here I will include a list of the books, websites, and online communities that have been helpful to me as I continue to struggle with the realities of her early death. I will include the author’s loss, but these books are universal and for many of the books, the author's experience may not be the primary narrative. In short, whether you have lost a similar person or not, all of these resources are valuable.
Many of these blogs/groups/podcasts have their own recommendations that you will discover with a little bit of searching. There are many resources out there, and what you find comforting/helpful varies from person-to-person. Some people like humor, some people like faith, other people like a little of everything. Do not be discouraged if the first few things you pick are not what you need. If you have recommendations of the resources that have helped you, please include them in the comments.
- The books and resources listed here are not faith-based.
- I will continually add to this list as I come across more resources - check the updated date at the top of the page.
Books for Adults
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken | stillborn | Indiebound/Amazon
Books for Children
Modern Loss | Collection of Essays, resources and advice on navigating life after loss
What’s Your Grief | Grief exploration and education - content created by two mental health professionals.
@survivingoursiblings | sibling loss
@survivingourparents | parent loss
@hotyoungwidowsclub | partner loss
@anjalipinto | husband loss
@noraborealis | husband/father loss & host of Terrible, Thanks for Asking
@optionb | stories of resilience
@katebowler | stage IV colon cancer diagnosis
@mollyrosenguy | father loss
@cupofstarlight | infant loss
@thatgoodgrief | parent loss (both parents)
Terrible, Thanks for Asking by Nora McInerny. Authentic answers through stories to the question, "How are you?"
What’s your Grief Podcast | Honest conversations on grief - topics include: Surviving the Grief of an Overdose, Continuing Bonds with Deceased Loved Ones, and The Guilt of Feeling Better.
Grief Out Loud | The Dougy Center's podcast. A mix of personal stories, tips for supporting children, and interviews with grief professionals.
Sunday Mourning | Claire Bidwell-Smith (author and grief counselor) explores various topics on grief (holidays, and the afterlife are two of the topics she discusses).
Griefcast | Comedians talk about grief. Based in the UK.
The Widowed Parent Podcast | A guide to "only parenting" after the loss of a partner. A place for information, advice and experts for those who are unexpectedly parenting alone.
Julie: The Unwinding of a Miracle | Interviews with Julie Yipp-Williams in the final months of her life.
Facebook Grief Groups
Modern Loss | any loss*
The Compassionate Friends | 20+ groups for all sorts of losses - from suicide to baby/toddler loss to grandchild loss. Catered towards parents of children (any age) and adult siblings*
Hot Young Widows Club | partner loss*
Motherless daughters | mother loss
Grief Beyond Belief | peer-to-peer support for anyone dealing with death who does not believe in an afterlife*
Option B: Coping with Grief | Any loss*
*private group - any posts that you make will not appear on your newsfeed and will only be visible to members of the group.
In Person Groups with chapters across the country
Sorry for your Loss | The experience of a young widow (Facebook Watch)
After Life | A dark comedy following a recent widower, who has taken the liberty of doing and saying whatever he wants following the death of his wife (Netflix)
Resources for Supporters & Caretakers
How to Have a Friend Who is Ill by Sally N. | Practical advice on how to interact and support with a loved one who is sick | blog post
Months to Years | An online journal of creative nonfiction, art and photography with pieces that explore mortality and terminal illness. They will soon have a resource section for partners of the terminally ill.
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