Gifts for Grief
Looking for a thoughtful Christmas gift for someone who is grieving?
Grief Day by Day by Jan Warner is the perfect combination of daily reflections and journal prompts to carry you and your fellow grievers through 2020. This versatile handbook provides practical support for men and women who are living with recent or long ago loss.
*Note: I have no financial or personal ties to this author or book.
I am a big fan of giving books and journals as gifts. We could all use more encouragement to pause and reflect long enough to stop running in our busy world. Grief Day by Day is the perfect guidebook to start the new year: especially if you are not looking forward to planning goals for a year that seems desolate with endless grief and empty space your loved one used to occupy.
This practical book provides one short reflection for every day of the year, grouped into weekly themes. The reflections are typically a few sentences, requiring no more than five minutes of your time. Some days include a quote from a well known public figure, scripture, or an ordinary person who has experienced deep grief. After each reflection, the author shares a realistic look into her own grief experience with the topic. Her honest and approachable style will have you nodding along, thinking, “Wow, I thought I was the only one who feels like I am going crazy after someone I love died!”
I especially appreciate that each week provides the structure of a theme such as denial, faith, confusion, mood swings, and community, so you can quickly find what you need. For example, if you have an unpleasant encounter with a family member (and who hasn’t?!), you can easily scan down the contents list to find specific support for that issue. Week 16 focuses on Friends and Family, with the relatable subtitle: Supportive, Unkind or Simply Gone? I bet you can name right now the folks in your life who meet each of those descriptions in their response to the death of your loved one.
The reflections for week 16 do not condemn the folks who let us down. Instead, I am reminded that people react to death in varied ways, some that are unexplainable and some that are inexcusable. But these reflections also remind me that I am not alone in this experience, and ultimately, I can choose to modify my expectations and how I respond to others. I tend to forget that part when I find myself lost in griping about others’ clueless comments.
Week 14 focuses on anger, something every griever has dealt with. You might choose to ignore the fury, or call it something less intense, like “fear” or “hurt,” after someone you love dies. But feeling angry at the person who died, or the circumstances of their death, or even rage at the unfairness of the loss, is actually 100% normal. Consult this week’s reflections to find out how other grievers cope with anger.
Week 14 includes this Anita Shreve quote:
“It is possible to be angry with someone who has died.
It is possible to hate yourself for being angry with someone
who has died...”
The author then reflects on her own anger for her husband who died, as well as her unexpected response to the anger. “Anger isn’t rational. It just IS.” (pg. 67)
When living through deep grief, we often want to hide away, avoid our feelings, or stay busy enough to outrun the pain. The theme for week 42 is called Showing Up. The reflections challenge us to allow the grief do its job: break our hearts. We then begin repairing the broken pieces when we take the grief along for the ride when we venture out in public. Grief is part of real life, so there is no need to subdue our grief and pretend it’s tucked away safely. Instead, let us speak the names of our loved ones - even if it feels uncomfortable -
let us honor them out loud in our imperfect communities.
At the end of each week, the author, Jan Warner, provides usable healing exercises to further process the week’s theme. You will find a wide variety of guided meditations, journal prompts, and simple craft ideas for honoring memories. The author invites you to “gentle down” your grief pain by using her techniques to become a “grief whisperer.”
Do you know someone who would benefit from extra grief support this holiday season? Maybe that someone is you. If you are local, let me know if you want to take a look at my copy of Grief Day by Day before your purchase.
Make 2020 a year of reflection and self care!
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