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Reading to Cope with Grief

Grief and loss
“Sometimes reading a story that involves someone else dealing with grief or loss also helps you deal with your own grief,” says Sarah, the moderator of the Loss Moms Book Club on Fable. Sarah launched her club a few months ago but has been striving to help mothers coping with loss through her JourneyforJasmine blog for years.“Reading is also helpful to process your emotions after loss,” she told me. “Reading stories about other ‘loss-families’ and what they went through helps you know you are not alone.”

The comfort of community

While mourning is typically considered an “emotional rollercoaster,” it can become a mental health disorder if ignored or not appropriately addressed. And while reading may not be a cure to heal all this pain and loss, it can certainly bring comfort to readers as they grieve.After experiencing her own loss, Sarah started her blog to create a community for families mourning the loss of a child. With her book club, Sarah hoped to create a place where loss-moms can gather together and seek comfort and understanding through books.I had a powerful conversation with Sarah, and she shared the story of her loss:

"One of our daughters, Jasmine, was diagnosed with CDH (congenital diaphragmatic hernia) and mosaic trisomy 15. She was stillborn on March 11, 2018 at 32 weeks. She was my inspiration for starting this blog. I wrote about life after loss and started Project Finding Your Rainbow to help bring awareness to pregnancy and infant loss.”

Sarah knows that reading helped her and others in her community as they grieve. “It helps many people 'escape’ from their grief, even if just for a short period,” she explained. “This is especially true when you can read a story just for entertainment. One that does not involve grief or loss in any way. Something that can just make you laugh, or make you intrigued, or just guessing what will happen next.”Bibliotherapists believe that reading can be a powerful coping mechanism, especially when readers can relate to the loss of a loved one in a book. As one study described, some researchers think that "the experience of recognition through reading can be similar to the experience of recognition derived from involvement in a support group." While reading should not be a substitute for support groups, it can benefit those seeking more support and community after a friend or family member has died.

Reading to cope with grief and loss

As Sarah explained during our conversation, book clubs can connect people coping with the loss of a loved one. “I thought it would be a good way for loss-families to connect with each other,” she said.

"The loss community is one that none of us ever wanted to join. It is full of so many amazing people that we are grateful to meet once we become a part of that club. This book club is a way for loss-moms to connect and bond over their love of reading.”

 When Sarah launched her club in early April, she and her club members started reading “Happy Place” by Emily Henry. “We hope to read a mix of different books, including those that address loss directly and those that have nothing to do with loss,” Sarah concluded. “We will be voting on our next book soon!”The Loss Moms Book Club is currently reading “Pretty Girls” by Karin Slaughter, join them now!

Books About Grief

Sarah also recommended a few books for loss-parents to read. “There are a lot of great books written for loss-parents. One that helped me a lot when going through my pregnancy after loss was 'Courageously Expecting' by Jenny Albers."  She also recommended “I Had A Miscarriage” by Jessica Zucker and “Unexpecting: Real Talk on Pregnancy Loss” by Rachel Lewis as helpful books.Personally, as someone who has had to go through loss a few times already, I’m familiar with the saying that “It’ll hurt less with time.” While I can agree that the pain is definitely less intense over the years, the grief I felt over losing someone so dear to me will never entirely go away. Rather, the grief became part of me. It has stayed over the years and will continue to stay. What matters is how I choose to live with this new part of myself. Healing - whether from grief, trauma, or anything else - takes time. Healing can also be found in your community when a loved one has died. “I was fortunate to have supportive family and friends. I decided shortly after our loss that I wanted to help support other women going through loss,” concluded Sarah. “I met so many other women in the loss community. I learned just how many others have gone through loss, and it is so many more than I ever even knew.”

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