Books for the Broken-Hearted

It is not my intention for this blog to become a ‘grief blog’. Back when life felt ‘normal’, I used to post here about books I’d read and the process of writing my novels, as well as new experiences I’d enjoyed or things I felt passionately about. Right now, however, my life feels stranger than fiction — writing novels is proving difficult — and most books don’t speak to me as they used to. There isn’t much in my heart or my head right now other than profound sadness.

But, in a faint attempt to strive for something familiar, I thought I’d post about the books I have been reading over the past two months. It’s surprised me that I have turned to non-fiction, and in particular those texts that reflect the shock that comes with the sudden loss of a loved one and the ensuing deep grief. The truth is that I am finding comfort in reading words written by people who have been there too. Their writing seems to normalise the extreme emotions I am feeling and somehow makes me feel a little less freakishly alone. So while I don’t intend for every blog post I write from here on to focus on the theme of grief, it is my hope that the list of books I’ve compiled below (for both adults and children) might offer comfort to one or two of you who have found my blog since Matt’s death and who share a similar journey to me.



The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

I bought this book before Matt died. It sat on our bookshelf collecting dust and for some unexplained reason I never reached for it. Not long after his death in July, I was gazing at Facebook seeking some kind of inane distraction from my pain when a post from the brain pickings site popped up into my feed. It was these words, from The Year of Magical Thinking, that leapt out at me:

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”

Reading that paragraph was like two charged wires connecting in my foggy brain. Yes. Here was someone who had walked my path. Here was someone who understood.

Joan Didion’s words reminded me of the strange, mechanical being I was at the celebration of Matt’s life just nine days after his accident. It felt like I was navigating my way through a terribly polite industry event – and I suppose in some ways I was. I stood at a podium. I read some words. ‘Hello, hello’. Hug. Hug. ‘A glass of champagne?’ ‘Why, thank you.’ I kept expecting to find Matt at my shoulder – see him appearing through the crowds. A shared smile, a knowing wink – just for me. But he never appeared. And in the midst of a polite conversation, I would suddenly remember with soul-searing pain why I was there. Funny how social mores can keep you in check, even in the most extreme or surreal situations. Didion is right about the ‘narcotic regression’ of the occasion, and how we have no idea until we are there, that the worst days are yet to come.

After reading Didion’s words online, I found The Year of Magical Thinking on our bookshelf and started to read. This is the book that first drew me back to the comfort of words and encouraged me to reach out for other books about grief and loss.

A Grief Observed – C. S. Lewis

This is a slim volume by C. S. Lewis and an honest exploration of his pain after losing his wife to cancer. It was passed to me by a good friend and I read it in one evening – gobbled it up – and copied out particularly meaningful passages into my journal. It really struck a chord. I particularly related to the comments he makes about suddenly feeling desperately self-conscious in social situations – for me it’s the school gates or bumping into people on my local shopping strip.

‘I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t … Perhaps the bereaved ought to be isolated in special settlements like lepers. To some I’m worse than an embarrassment. I am a death’s head. Whenever I meet a happily married pair I can feel them both thinking, ‘One or other of us must some day be as he is now.”

It’s Not Raining, Daddy, It’s Happy – Benjamin Brooks-Dutton

In the earliest days after Matt’s death, three different people suggested I read this recently-published memoir, written by Benjamin Brooks-Dutton whose wife, Desreen, was killed by a car while walking home from an afternoon with friends in West Hampstead. Brooks-Dutton writes about his love for his wife and the painful first year that followed her death. It’s also him capturing their family memories onto the page for their young son, Jackson, who was just two-years-old when his mum died. There are many differences in our situations, and yet so many pages had me nodding my head in recognition at his experience and some sentences offered great comfort:

‘I was told by someone who worked at the bereavement charity Winston’s Wish, ‘He might forget the memories but he’ll never forget the love.’ What a wonderful thought to hang on to when a child loses a parent.’

‘Naturally, loved ones feel the need to be there when tragedy strikes, but when they arrive it must be impossible for them to know what to do. I imagine everyone who came to visit me felt useless. And the truth is that most people were. All anyone seemed to want to do was put things right or take away my pain, and those things just aren’t possible when you lose someone you love.’

Of particular help to me was the list of ‘Dos and ‘Don’ts’ the author has included at the back of the book that outline how to help those widowed young. I shared these with family and friends when they asked what they could do or say to help.

The Grief of Our Children – Dianne McKissock

Given to me by a children’s psychologist, this book has helped me to understand the profound sadness my children are experiencing and the different ways this manifests itself. It’s been helpful to have a guide through the maze of their experience and suggestions for things I can do to help them, even while coping with my own heartbreak. Particularly helpful were the three pages offering a ‘summary of strategies that can help a grieving child’, including simple tips such as:

– Talk about everything that is happening in simple language so the child can understand and not feel dumb or patronised. Tell them the truth.

– Talk openly about the person who has died, but don’t be surprised if the child doesn’t say much in the beginning, particularly about feelings.

– Continue to make the child feel special and loved.

– Let children help plan the funeral and participate in the service if that is important to them. Build in the right to change their mind.

– Help the child plan simple things to look forward to, so they can reassure themselves that life will go on, that there is a future, albeit a different future.

These are just a few suggestions taken from a long and helpful list. Most of them are quite obvious, but it’s amazing how even the obvious can seem elusive when your world is turned upside down.

Tiny, Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

I’ve been a huge fan of Cheryl Strayed’s writing since I first discovered her anonymous ‘Dear Sugar’ columns on the Rumpus website. She is about to explode onto the big screen with the film adaptation of her moving memoir Wild, starring Reece Witherspoon – another excellent read – but for me, it’s Tiny, Beautiful Things that displays her beautiful, humane writing at its best. Several people reminded me to read Cheryl Strayed after Matt’s death, and I have returned to this volume and found solace in it since. These words are from her column entitled The Obliterated Place, in which she offers advice to a man whose son was killed by a drunk driver:

‘Small things such as this have saved me: How much I love my mother – even after all these years. How powerfully I carry her within me. My grief is tremendous but my love is bigger. So is yours. You are not grieving your son’s death because his death was ugly and unfair. You’re grieving it because you loved him truly. The beauty in that is greater than the bitterness of his death.’

I think it’s fair to say that there have been other books about grief that really haven’t worked for me. I threw one across the room the other day when it suggested comfort could be found in making a nice ‘Oxtail Stew with Madeira’. ‘Serve with mashed potatoes and peas and drink with a big, bold red wine,’ the author helpfully suggests, as if I were about to host a fancy ‘Nigella’ style dinner party. (Only three and a half hours cooking time required!). Each to their own, but that book definitely wasn’t for me.

Books for Young Children …

We are a very bookish family, but having a stockpile of children’s books about death wasn’t something I’d ever considered needing before. Luckily, in those earliest days after Matt’s accident, very kind friends sent me books to read with the kids. Some have been more successful than others in opening up a dialogue about what happened to Dad, or offering comforting messages about death and grief. Here are the ones that have proved particularly helpful to us, amidst the usual escapist books we still enjoy each night. (For the record, my son is six and my daughter is four.)


Tough Boris – Mem Fox & Kathryn Brown

This is a simple picture book about a rough and tough pirate. When we got to the page where the pirate’s parrot dies my son hesitated. ‘Can we play ‘I Spy’ on this page?’ he asked. We spent ten minutes talking about the pictures showing the pirate putting his beloved parrot in a violin case and floating him out to sea, before we turned back to the beginning, at Jude’s request, to read it again. He’d been in emotional lock-down since I’d broken the news about Matt. This was the story that got him talking.


Always and Forever – Debbie Gliori & Alan Durant

Four animals live as a happy family in a house in the woods until one day Fox goes out and doesn’t come back. Through the gentle words and sweet illustrations, we see the three remaining animals grieve and cry and slowly come to terms with Fox’s death. This is particularly popular with my daughter. Every time we get to the page where Fox dies, Gracie sighs: ‘Like Daddy.’


The Heart and the Bottle – Oliver Jeffers

We love books by Oliver Jeffers in our house – particularly Lost & Found. This one arrived in the mail from one of my husband’s work friends not long after his death. It’s the story of a little girl filled with wonder and curiosity. But one day, when someone she loves dies, she puts her heart in a safe place … until she decides one day that she’d like it back again … It’s a lovely metaphor which perhaps went a little over my children’s heads, but a very sweet and moving story, nonetheless.


The Invisible String – Patrice Karst & Geoff Stevenson

A thoughtful friend sent me this book and carefully changed the names of the characters to our own family names – even the cat’s! We read it in bed early one morning together. The kids got such a kick out of seeing it was about ‘them’. The message that we are all connected by invisible strings and that no one is ever really alone is a simple and beautiful one. We all went quiet for a little while after we’d finished reading it, thinking about the invisible string that still connects us to Matt.


The Paper Dolls – Julia Donaldson & Rebecca Cobb

While not specifically a book about grief, this lovely story was familiar to my children before Matt died, and we have returned to it since, for it’s wonderful and comforting message about how things that disappear from your life can still live on in your memory.


Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes In Between – Bryan Mellonie & Robert Ingpen

My son is bug and animal mad and this simple, beautifully-illustrated book offers a no-nonsense, practical explanation to the inevitable rise and fall of all living things. There is no sugar-coating. It just tells it like it is, using clear examples from the natural world.

‘There is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive. In between is living.’


Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine – Diana Crossley & Kate Sheppard

This is an activity book for children who have lost a loved one. It offers all sorts of practical support and projects for bereaved children to complete, to help them express their feelings around the loss of a someone special. We haven’t begun to use it yet, but I think we’ll spend a little time this Father’s Day filling in a couple of pages and recording some memories of Matt.


The Bear and the Wildcat – Kazumi Yumoto & Komako Sakai

This is a really beautiful picture book about a bear whose best friend, a little bird, dies. Bear is bereft, but gradually, through the help of a new wildcat friend, he finds a way to live with his loss.

“This little bird must have been a very special friend of yours,’ he said. “You must miss him a lot.”

Bear looked up in surprise. No one had ever said that before.

The wildcat opened his box. Inside was a violin. He took it out and said, “Let me play a song for you and your little friend.”

So these are the books we have discovered to date. I’m wondering … are there any books that have helped you or your families cope with your own experiences of losing a loved one? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Thanks.

58 thoughts on “Books for the Broken-Hearted

  1. muddlemummy says:

    Dearest Hannah, you’ve compiled an excellent list. I’ve been putting together a list myself and the only ones I would add to your children’s list is ‘Old Pig’ by Margaret Wild. Admittedly, it’s about preparing for one to die. Another good one is ‘The Important Things’ by Peter Carnavas.

    I just want to tell you how sorry I am about Matt. I know your pain (not in every shape and form) as I lost my son Hamish at just 20 months old almost 2 years ago and the grief is still searing. My agent pointed me to your article and blog and I’m grateful for your words. I write about my son at my blog ‘Mummy Muddles’. It’s a grief blog I’m afraid and my words are not as eloquent as yours, but it helps nonetheless. I’ve thought about writing other things there, but that’s what comes tumbling out. I’ve written a book based on it but it’s fumbling about out there in the publishing world.

    Take care and so much love to you and your darling children. Rachel x

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Thank you, Rachel. I’m so sorry about your son, Amish. Thank you also for the book recommendations. I hope your own book finds success out there in the big wide world. Lovely of you to be in touch. Take care x


      Dear hannah God Bless You. my favorite book when my mother died was a Zig Ziglar book: “Confessions of a sore Christian” My mother died when the trailer hit and killed instantly, and this book helped me to understand the grieving process and also to find comfort refuge in GOD. Thank you for the books you’ve shown us, I hope to find some. Isend you a great huge.

  2. Carole Hammond says:

    A friend gave me this series of four booklets, one arrived every three to four months in the mail with a personal note from her. I found them extremely helpful, so much so, that I’ve shared them with several friends that have lost spouses. I write their names in each book and sadly the list keeps growing. They are titled Journeying through Grief by Kenneth C. Haugk. They made me feel that they were written for me. He knows what it’s like to have lost a spouse. I hope you find them helpful. So many people share your pain. The difference in your situation and mine is, I was fortunate enough to have my husband for 48 years of marriage and four years before we married, we were high school sweethearts. Also, my children were all grown and I didn’t have to deal with trying to help little ones cope and to continue holding down a job. I wish you peace in this awful journey.

  3. Kirsty Hewitt says:

    I relate well to what you have written and feel a connection to someone who is a complete stranger. Is that weird? I stumbled upon ” it’s been a month…….” And it was like a light had come on. Your writing put my thoughts down on paper. So I am now a “follower”. I too, am learning to live beside my grief. Your words are clever, insightful and moving. I just wanted you to know. Kirsty

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Elena says:

    Hi Hannah – have you tried ‘Confessions of a mediocre widow’ for you? It appealed to me. I lost my husband in Feb this year, even though I’ve probably heard it all I still don’t know what to say to a widow other than I am really sorry for yours and your children’s loss.

  5. Les Seach says:

    Hi Hannah, I am 14 days short of 2 years in my grieving for my darling hubby who was killed in a car accident and life changed abruptly. I have two children who are now 9 and 10. All I can say is that there is no easy fix and that as odd as it my sound, your kids are the ones who pull you through and give you strength, with their constant needs and the love you need to give them. My eldest sons therapist gave me a book called “On Grief and Grieving” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler it gives a full spectrum of various types of grief, but it also explains that sometimes you are not going mad and it is a normal thing to feel what you are feeling.
    I wish only love and light to you and and your children and hope that your burden will lighten as you travel your path.

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Hi Les, I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for the book recommendation. I have found it and am reading it right now. It is very helpful. I wish you and your children peace as you face your two year anniversary of your husband’s death. Take care. x

  6. Susan says:

    I am amazed that there are so many books to help children deal with grief. I’m glad you have found books to help all of you, and that you are helping others by passing on the information. I think that being a reader and a writer, you have a natural inclination to turn to written words to help you get through each day. I hope it continues to work well for you.

    On another topic, I feel almost embarrassed to bring this up, but I just wanted to tell you that I loved your second book “The Shadow Year.” If it’s possible, I may have enjoyed it even more than your first book. I have been thinking about it for days, especially the ending which was brilliant, and I didn’t see it coming.

    I couldn’t put down “Secrets of the Tides” from the halfway mark onwards. Fortunately I had a day off which was supposed to be spent catching up on all things domestic, but instead I just read your book straight through to the end. Within half an hour of drying my tears I was back on Amazon, downloading “The Shadow Year” onto my Kindle. Thank you for these two great reads, and for the inspiring blogs that you write.

    May you continue to find comfort on your journey.

  7. Yolanda M. says:

    I can relate to how you say you felt like a strange mechanical being during those early days. After my father’s sudden death I kept up the appearance that I was ok and coping for well over a year until a nervous breakdown forced me to address my grief. Joan Didion’s and Cheryl Strayed’s are treasures and if I could add one more it would be any book by Elizabeth Kubler- Ross on the five stages of grieving.

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Do you know what … a lovely friend dropped this on my doorstep on day 3 and I had TOTALLY forgotten in the midst of everything. I dug it out after I read your comment and Jude and I read it this week. Thank you for reminding me. It’s very moving.

  8. Brona says:

    When I was teaching, my assistant of many years died suddenly and unexpectedly of leukemia half way through the year. I was not only trying to work through my own grief, but trying to support 20 four yr old children and their families at the same time.

    Tough Boris was one of our go-to books at this time. I’m so glad it has helped your family too. We also adopted the song ‘ you are my sunshine’. It seemed to provide the children with the right amount of sad/happy – we sang it every day for the rest of the year.

    I recently read The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay, which may get you back into fiction. It’s still about grief, and beautifully done.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us Hannah.

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Gosh, Brona, what a difficult situation. I’m so sorry. One of the songs we played at our small family funeral for Matt was the Elizabeth Mitchell version of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ which we used to play to the kids all the time when they were babies. Bittersweet. Thank you for the Ashley Hay recommendation – I shall keep an eye out for it. Take care.

  9. Dani from Sand Has No Home says:

    Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan was the book for me. It is fiction, narrated by a dying man who is reliving his life and that of his forebears, along with the “soul history of his country”. The narrative is threaded through with the characters grief for the loss of his baby girl.
    The grief is so articulate ‘there remains in my heart a barren patch of soil upon which nothing will grow.’ which is one of the most salient truths that you will find about the passage of time and grief. Richard Flanagan’s conclusion touched me deeply.

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Beautiful quote, Dani. Thank you for sharing it. I shall look out for the novel. I read my first Richard Flanagan novel earlier this year and thought it was very moving: The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Take care x

  10. Sarah says:

    Hello Rachel, thank you so much for sharing these books. One you may like to add to you “to read” list is “Rare Bird” by Anna Donaldson. Anna’s 12 son Jack died and she blogged through her grief then wrote this beautiful book. Anna is quite religious, which isn’t
    relevant to me, but what she shares about grief is profound and beautiful.

    Sending you peace and comfort Rachel. Sarah

  11. Victoria says:

    Indeed….grief is something we cannot know…until we are there! So sorry for your loss. I too lost a loved one recently. You have a generous and kind spirit to share your experience in a way that can reach out to and help others!

  12. richardtreehouse says:

    My mother died 60 years ago when I was 8 months old. When I read the following comment I had a tear in my eye: ” ‘He might forget the memories but he’ll never forget the love.’ What a wonderful thought to hang on to when a child loses a parent.” I have never had any memories of my mother but I do believe I remember the love.

    I am sorry for your loss and feel it is very kind of you to share what has helped you.

  13. Madabouttheboys says:

    Hi Hannah
    I’ve read my son Badgers Passing Gifts by Susan Varley. I’d really recommend it. He’s four and is preparing for my dad to die fairly soon and I’ve used it to explain about my mum who has died already before he was born. I hope that it may help them. It’s about celebrating someone and each person remembering something about them. X

  14. janetnz says:

    First, I am so very, very sorry for your loss.
    My sister died in May of cancer, and though her death was ‘expected’ (and even longed for), the force of my grief has taken me completely by surprise.
    I will look out for some of these books, thank you. It helps greatly to know I am not alone in this.
    Vary best wishes

  15. Sing Better English says:

    Hi Hannah – reading your post I’m amazed and pleased at how many books have been published to help children talk about and think about death. When my husband died, young and suddenly, 10 years ago, there was only Badger’s Parting Gifts (by Susan Varley). It’s sweet and sad, with beautiful illustrations, but Badger’s very old, so it was talking about a different kind of death, the kind where it’s the natural time to leave the party. But we liked it anyway. My children were 5 and 12 at the time. Badger’s Parting Gifts did inspire conversation – especially about skills that their dad had taught them.

    I think that’s one of the great thing about these kind of books – they open a door to conversation and because you’re talking about a story, you can say what you want, knowing all the time that you’re really talking about your own story.

    I remember one of the most helpful things that anyone did for me after my husband died – we were living in Spain and it is the custom there to sit with the widow or widower. A good friend phoned the morning after my husband died and said he was going to come and sit with me. And he came. We went to a cafe out in the square. We sat, we talked, sometimes about my husband, sometimes about other things. We drank coffee and we sat. Human next to human. It was one of the most valuable things that anyone has ever done for me. When it came time for him to go, I remember walking away from his car and feeling as if I was walking on a boat. It felt as if the earth was swaying.

    I wish you and your children every good wish. You have to draw your own maps for the new changed world you step into when your man dies. It will surprise you. Friends and family will try to direct you, because they want to say something to help you, but ultimately your journey is your own. (Reading back over that it sounds a bit sphinx-like. It’s not meant to be. There isn’t any standard trajectory after somebody dies, not in real life, even though there always is in films)

  16. orples says:

    I have only recently come across your blog, and admittedly, I scanned through your article since I am still trying to catch up with life and blogging myself. Your words have captured my attention and your story touched a nerve with me because I can strongly identify with the loss of loved ones. I am assuming Matt is your child. I can only imagine your grief, and to be honest I hope I will NEVER know the devastating loss of losing a child. My first children’s book “How Orples Came To Be” was written In 1986 as an effort to find closure over my father’s death, though. So I do know the intense emotions over loving someone you dearly love. In my case, I forfeited my opportunities to visit with my father for the last two years of his life, as our relationship created conflict with my stepmother. I was a grown woman by then, so if he was happy, I figured I wouldn’t make waves in his life, and I withdrew. One day, out of the blue, Dad died. I was overcome with guilt for years for not having stood up for my rights as my father’s child, adult, or not. Thus I turned to writing to overcome my grief. Initially, I created two imaginary friends to help me sort my emotions and thoughts out. The two conversed with each other, helping me find closure. With time, the orples story emerged. For about fifteen years, the original manuscript lay dormant while I was busy raising my children and working, designing roof trusses. As the years passed, I came across the manuscript during a move. I reread the piece, edited parts, rewrote other parts, and illustrated what was left to share with other people. Writing might help you to find closure, too. I certainly hope so. My heart sincerely goes out to you and I hope one day, with time, you will overcome your pain as much as is humanly possible. Try to stay strong and God bless.

  17. cperciaccanto says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I know my words sound trivial and meaningless as you don’t know me, but I am no stranger to gut- wrenching, life- altering grief. So believe me when I say I am truly sorry. I haven’t lost my husband and cannot begin to fathom how dark that grief is. I too turned to non-fiction to not feel alone. Three years ago I took to writing my own memoir as my journey to the other side of my grief. I’m almost done with it. For a moment I felt bad that it has taken me this long to finish it, but then I realized it’s taken me that long get to the other side and find my new “normal”. I hope one day it’s published and helps others, but I know that if it never is- its ok. because writing saved me, its what I needed to keep my sanity. I hope one day you too can put your hurt to paper, as a writer I’m sure it will be cathartic for you. You are a gifted writer and would write a great and moving memoir. I plan to be a follower! take care and write when you feel up to it.

  18. way2gokev says:

    Hi Hannah, being new to Blogging and WordPress your Blog came to me via email and I just had to read through it and it brought back memories of the loss of three of my children (one violent and tragic, one suicide and the other a natural but heart shattering loss) and I cant remember seeing a book about grieving in any of my families hands nor the mention of such books.
    I think as a family we got through the losses by talking honestly with family and friends and the healing process is never ending it goes on till your last breath, that is not to say that had we read some of the above grief books we would have had a better understanding of how to cope with our grief.
    I admire you for writing about your loss, it takes guts and if it helps others you gain a feeling of relief in your heart and soul.

  19. linaresmurov300 says:

    Una contribución.

    “La belleza del óbito es más convincente que la de juventud: es la belleza victoriosa de la plenitud femenina”
    No estaba seria ni hermosa, sólo diferente. Como si todo el maquillaje de la vida –ira, dolor, alegría, tristeza–, todo lo que reviste el rostro humano, se hubiera borrado. Sólo capté en ella serenidad y nobleza, dos rasgos que siempre quedan ocultos en la cara de los vivos”.
    Sándor Marai ante el cuerpo inerte de su esposa.

    Acerca del comportamiento del ser humano ante la muerte, yo tuve una experiencia que la tomé como una lección de vida.
    Una prima hermana de mi esposa, una gran mujer de 49 jóvenes años falleció a las 7 de la mañana de un 24 de diciembre. Llegando las 12 de la noche, se me ocurrió dar el abrazo a la familia y todos los concurrentes sin mediar palabra alguna; fue una situación muy extraña… la vida y la muerte compartiendo el mismo recinto. Desde aquella vez hago lo mismo.

    Es una gran página.

  20. The Happy Baker says:


    What a touching, lovely post! A very generous gift you’ve given for those in need of help and guidance in their grief. My heart goes out to you for your loss–and to the others who have commented as well.


  21. bjacob131 says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Wonderful list to share with those who are hurting. Another book that I found helpful after my son died was, “Where is God When it Hurts’.

  22. Michelle Grogan says:

    Hi Hanna, I have connected with you before and I am returning to your blog today to try and find some solace. No pressure!

    I am coming up to a year since my husband died. I am reliving every day leading up to the last. Raw pain. Terrible, terrifying pain. It is raining in Sydney today, but on this day last year it was a bright and sunny day. I remember thinking how inappropriately happy the day was. I had received the news that my husbands cancer treatment was failing and we were out of options. I was left to tell Michael that despite our defiance, our fight was lost. Plans were made to make him “comfortable” and the steady stream of family and friends arrived quietly to bravely say goodbye. Michaels beautiful final conversation with his 2 little boys tore a hole in my heart which will never heal.

    The opening passage in john donne’s poem “a valediction forbidding mourning” was on a constant loop in my head, like a bad Brittany spears song.

    As virtuous men pass mildly away,
    And whisper to their souls to go,
    Whilst some of their sad friends do say
    The breath goes now, and some say, No:

    As it turns out, it was the remaining part of the poem that I clung to in the following days, weeks, months (years?).

    In reading this blog I wanted to add a few reading suggestions of my own.

    My 3 year old is obsessed with the story of the lion king. We have it in book, movie and audio book form. He first picked it up in a cafe for me to read to him. I was paralysed with fear. And for the first read, I made it up and skipped the part where his dad died. But on the second read I was braver and read it through word for word.

    My councillor gave me the book “Death and how to survive it” by Kate Boydell

    My oldest boy is now 8 and he is quiet and closed with his grief. What has started to open him up is an activity book called “when someone very special dies” by Marge Meegaard.

    In reading your story and the responses from people, I am struck by the sameness we experience in grief. Would we be the most depressing, saddest bunch of people if we started a support group? With all these common threads (my boys played “you are my sunshine” on their ukulele at the funeral) I wonder if we would be helpful to each other over a coffee or wine. I’ll put it out there as an idea. I live in the inner west in Sydney.

    Love and hugs on a rainy Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s