Death is a natural part of life, yet there’s no straightforward (or right) way to handle the loss of a loved one. Here are some books, plays and podcasts to help you deal with grief in your own way
Every year, 29,000 people die in Ireland and up to 290,000 are newly bereaved. Everyone’s personal experience of grief is unique, and each of us will face it – most likely many times – in our lifetime.
While it can be a difficult thing to go through alone, sometimes talking about it is the hardest thing to do.
There’s no doubt that grief is a journey. If you’d like to learn more about the process you’re going through, or listen to other people’s experience of coping with loss; read our list of the best books, plays and podcasts that deal with grief below.
Grief is the thing with feathers
Originally written as a novel by Max Porter, Grief is the thing with feathers has recently been converted into a stage play. Recently performed in the Black Box Theatre in Galway, the play shows a father and his two small boys mourning the death of their wife and mother. It’s fast-paced and intense; not only a gripping read but a gripping watch too.
Created by British comedian Cariad Lloyd, Griefcast opens up a conversation about loss.
The podcast consists of interviews with a wide range of people, all of whom are grieving someone they love. Lloyd is empathetic towards her guests, after all, she’s been through it all before. Her father died when she was just 15 and she says, “It took me many, many years to be able to express what I had gone through.”
Now she invites fellow comics to “talk, share, and laugh about the weirdness of grief, death, pain, and agony” in the hope of helping others come to terms with their own feelings of grief.
A Grief Observed
Written by C.S. Lewis (the author of The Chronicles of Narnia), A Grief Observed is a biographical book about the author’s grief following the death of his wife. He and Joy Davidman had been married for four years when she passed away from cancer, and the book tells of the despair and anger he felt afterwards.
It’s broken up into four parts, throughout which he questions his faith before becoming progressively spiritual. The book is incredibly candid and honest. While the author’s circumstances might not match what you’re going through, the emotions running through it are relatable nonetheless.
Dealing With My Grief
This podcast by Darwyn M. Dave is an interesting listen, whether you’re currently grieving or not. With over 100 episodes so far, Dealing With My Grief covers every aspect of loss you can imagine. From explaining grief to children, to the impact of grief on your overall mental health; there’s something for everyone to relate to and learn from. In some episodes, he reflects on the loss of his late father. In others, he chats with people about their experiences. Dave has a regular uploading schedule with new episodes going online every week.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
After the sudden death of her husband, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg felt she and her children would never feel pure joy again. This book combines her personal insights with trustworthy advice from psychologist Adam Grant. Option B goes beyond Sandberg’s loss to explore how people can overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. The stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere and to rediscover joy.
Every One is a modern-day play about an ordinary family’s reaction to the death of a loved one.
Mary, a mother of two, suffers a stroke while doing the ironing one day. Her family (including a hungover daughter and elderly mother with dementia) must deal with the shock and trauma that often comes with sudden loss. In a note accompanying her published script, Clifford said the play, “came from the death of my wife, Susie, in February 2005”, and from undergoing a subsequent heart-bypass operation. “I became aware of how incompetent our culture is when it comes to the universal fact of death.”
It’s a difficult watch, but it does help to put things into perspective.
Photo: Siddharth Bhogra. This article was first published in October 2019
Read more: Dealing with grief: ‘One day he went to work and he never came home’
Read more: Andrea Corr: ‘…When dad died I thought, ‘God, what if I die now too?”
Read more: ‘My little world blacked over. I wanted to hold my little boy, not bury him’
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