Grief / Suicide survivor

4 books to gift your grieving, sad-peopley friends

1. It’s OK That You’re Not OK
(topic: grief)

This is my #1 recommendation for anyone in the midst of loss of a loved one and grief. It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a wonderful, realistic, supportive book written by a therapist who faced the ultimate in complex grief after her husband died in a drowning accident. She quickly realized the “everything happens for a reason” or “5 stages of grief” stuff society likes to deem as supportive truly isn’t all that supportive for most people in the thick of grief, and she set out to provide a more supportive outlet and community for the grieving.

The subtitle of the book “Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand” says it all: if you (or a friend) feel like nobody truly understands the gravity and loneliness of a loss, this books just sits in that gravity. The author gets you. On top of being a great resource for grief, it’s also a fantastic book for navigating the most complex, unexpected loss. (The book is currently rated #1 in suicide book best-sellers on Amazon).

If you haven’t experienced it yet, the early days of grief make it impossible to focus on anything: let alone reading. The nice thing about this book is that you can read it in pieces, or search for topics that will best support you (or your friend) in that moment.

So from one screwed-up grieving sad person to another: this is a must-have and must-read.

Be sure to follow the author – Megan Devine – on Instagram here. She shares constant wisdom that both the grieving and non-grieving can greatly benefit from.

2. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse
(topic: grief and hardship)

This book has been gifted to me and I’m extremely grateful for the thoughtful, kind, real nature of this gift.

It’s motivational, but in the most realistic and tender-hearted way. The illustrations are beautiful, the book is full of hope, and – with the flair of a talented artist – the premise of the book supports the notion of survival, community, and mindfulness in our hardest life moments. It never validates or reinforces the cliché “everything happens for a reason” phrase that serves zero purpose for the grieving, but it sits in the hard stuff of life while also serving as a simple reminder that tomorrow is a new day and we’re never alone.

If you’d like a snippet of what to expect, the artist – Charlie Mackesy – can be found here on Instagram.

3. The Hot Young Widows Club
(topic: grief and widow life)

THE TITLE! It says it all! Hilarious perfection.

Okay – first off – this book just happens to be written by my all-time favorite celeb of a human: Nora McInerny. (If you haven’t watched her TED talk on grief – you’re missing out: grieving or not. So…That’s step one before buying this book. You can watch the full talk here. It’s the perfect encapsulation of experiencing major loss and grief.)

The Hot Young Widows Club is perfect for that widow in your life that lost their partner at a young age and feels like their life and future is completely screwed, over, null and void, botched, and gone to complete shit.

This book brought me exactly what I needed in those visceral early moments of widow life. It’s realistic, funny, dark, logistical, and throws in a little bit of hope when you least expect it. I love Nora and I love this book, so it’s a wonderful combo. Not only is the book amazing, but it sparked a bunch of hot young widows to gather and develop a community here.

Beyond Nora’s TED talk on grief – you can find her amazing, majestical, truth-talking, mermaid-like presence on Instagram here. And her podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” is a real winner, also worth a rec for you + your grieving friends. I’ll stop there, because the list of Nora-related recommendations are endless for me, but these are the key sad people resources I firmly believe you need to be aware of.

4. Untamed
(topic: hope and hardship)

After skyrocketing to the top of the New York Times bestseller list this year, Untamed served to provide some realistic hope for me soon after Aaron’s passing. I struggled with my identity after losing my mom – but when Aaron died, I truly had no concept of who I was and how to move forward as an individual. It’s a harsh reality I face every day, and am actively working on finding my (new) personal identity so I can confidently, successfully carry forward for me and Sloan.

This book has helped me in big ways with identity-driven stuff, and it gave me the boost I needed to get through the times I thought I couldn’t do life without Aaron. The words, shared experiences, and support in Untamed have continued to push me to speak louder, find my voice, and trust I know what I’m doing. Entering a new chapter in life without my main cheerleader and partner by my side has been depressing, demotivating, and highlights every insecurity I’ve ever felt. But this book helped me to ground myself and realize I’ve got what it takes to press on: even though I never asked to be here.

A slight warning: it might be a little toxically positive or make some statements stemming from places of privilege at times, but I still think it strikes the balance of positivity and realism really well and truly enjoyed it.

Untamed gave me a little hope when I was sure I couldn’t find it anymore. And now this book is one of the reasons I won’t shut up about my life experiences, love, loss, suicide, mental health, grief, and parenting a child with disabilities. So – if anything – you can thank Glennon Doyle for mine and Sloan’s new nasty women vibes.

I know there’s a high chance many of you already have already done this: but you can follow Glennon Doyle on Instagram here, and I love this short talk on Oprah’s Super Soul podcast from Glennon: first the pain, then the rising.

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