The Grief Books… A Shelf of Tears and Love



They serve many purposes.  They take us on adventures.  They teach us.  They make us laugh and cry and think and dream…

In April of 2015 after Justin’s accident, friends sent me what you are seeing above and what has come to be known as “The Grief Shelf.”  Books were sent to me in the mail, and handed to me in person.  Each book came with a story of its own…. it may have helped the giver personally when they were going through something.. .as I look at each book even today I can recall the wonderful message that came with it, or the person who sat by me in those early hard days and shared their own story as they handed it to me…

And while each book I know came from the heart….

honestly to this day I have not read any of them.

And here is why….

One set of books is a series of the stages of grief and what a person will go through… and what is to be expected, and what the next stage is…..
To this day I have not opened these books.  For me… someone who has lived out large GRIEF moments throughout many stages of my life – I did not want books to tell me how I should be feeling or what was the next step to that feeling…

I opened the others… I could not do it… I did not want to read someones take on grief…. I had my own… I didn’t want to read how to get from A to B to C…. because my journey was my own…  and I knew I could not do it on anyone’s time line…

I still can’t

I know everyone who sent a book meant well and I love each one of these people for that.  Maybe I will never be able to open some of these books… but I know the thought and love that was behind each one – and that in itself is enough to make my once again be so thankful for the amazing people in my life.  I can not even put into words what you love has meant to me and led me to where I am today.

A couple of days ago I was drawn back to the shelf where a particular book had caught my interest and I had  read a little… but now.. NOW I feel like maybe I could read more.


Her parents called her Lenya Lion because of her ferocious personality and hair that had been wild and mane-like since birth. But they never expected that, five days before Christmas, their five-year-old daughter would suddenly go to heaven after an asthma attack. How do you walk out of an emergency room without your daughter?
In Through the Eyes of a Lion, Pastor Levi Lusko shares the eye-opening truth of the power of hope in a world that is often filled with pain, suffering, and loss. He says, “This book isn’t a manual for grieving, but a manifesto for high-octane living, and through it I want you to see that God made you for a purpose. There is a wild and wonderful calling on your life, a microphone in your hands. Jesus wants you to look at the adventure of your life through His eyes, the eyes of a Lion.”
This book.  THIS story of continuing to (try) live life to the fullest…. be an example… this is where I find myself.  I think I can relate.

Now, almost two years later (I can not believe it has been almost two years….)  I pick up this book… off the Grief Shelf….

and I began to read…

I am completely different… I see things so differently now and I can believe I have done this for almost 2 years.  I laugh…a real laugh….when I thought I never would again….  I do and go and be… when I thought for sure I would not.

Doing, going, being, laughing does not come free.  Each step I take is strategic and meaningful and I do it with him in mind.  I look at the pictures of me laughing and being with friends and I know that unless you are close to me – you do not see what everything I do and write costs me….  I am still torn and destroyed… I still cry daily and hurt even when I am throwing myself into the next big thing.  However there is a seed of hope within me…  I hope my actions through this crazy newness help others to see you can manage to go on.  It is not easy – I admire anyone who can get up and do it as I know for myself more often than not each step of the way still brings with it tears and pain and whispers…

“Lets do this kid.. this one is for you….”

I am still here.  I don’t plan on going anywhere and I hope you do not either.  I am reading… I need to get writing.  SO much to share….

25 thoughts on “The Grief Books… A Shelf of Tears and Love

  1. I totally get what you said here. When my mom died in November I couldn’t even read the cards I received. We had a troubled relationship but even that made it more tragic. Grief is definitely a process and not one that ever ends, really. There just seems to be varying degrees of it.

  2. My mom passed unexpectedly in January. I have read through some of “I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye” but you’re right. It’s hard because no one else has the same grief, so how can a book someone has written about their grief help with your own?

    Lots of hugs to you. Still enjoy your blog.

    1. Hey Brooke, wow Sorry to hear about your mom. I know these books help so many people – maybe it is just knowing you do not walk this path alone.. I guess for myself… I have walked this path before – not at this level – but certainly earth shattering all the same.

  3. I really get what you are saying. I have a similar shelf of books given with truly heartfelt emotion on the part of the givers who wanted more than anything to help me through this terrible dark hole. They are still unread.

    1. It became a thing… a book would come in.. I would read the message with it… and put it on the shelf. I made the space for these books in the library once they started to come in… I didnt want them on the table, I didnt want to look at them…. I was not ready – but I knew they were now a part of me and therefore needed to be added to my collection of the somedays…

  4. So true that each of us makes our way through grief in different ways. Many years ago now, back in 1983, my elder brother and best friend died mysteriously in a jungle in Belize. In addition to the shock and loss, the lack of answers made everything more difficult.

    Sudden deaths are like that…they seem senseless, and we struggle to move on.

    Sometimes we never move on fully, but the initial pain does subside to a certain extent, as we immerse ourselves in work and family moments.

    Keep going on, and whether or not you read the books, you will find your own way through.

  5. Thanks for sharing. Like you I am on this journey. Yesterday was 2 years since I lost my oldest son. The grief was not as bad as the first days but it was close until our family got together for dinner and we shared memories, shed some tears but also some laughter. There was an empty seat left at the table because there were 9 of us, until my son’s daughter who is almost 5 said “look there’s even a seat for daddy”. Out of the mouths of children. It is my grandchildren that give the rest of us hope and push all of us to face each day.

    I hate that we share this and the circumstances were different but mom to mom I am sending you huge hugs as we continue through each day.

    1. Ahhh Yes. I remember this… I think I had just heard about yours… then mine follows (April 4th)…. this 2nd year has a different feel to it then year one… almost worse because the first year I was still so low and in so much constant pain it was just one more awful thing… this year I have balanced the pain better, but the day brings dread I suspect it will. I find I have to plan for it – and I am …making plans to stay busy and do what I can to get through and honor him at the same time.

  6. Your courage facing into this huge loss always leaves me in awe of all that you are. Yes courage. The book sounds relatable, and a reminder to live the life we have… to the full. Hugs.

  7. Sheila, it’s good to read a post from you. I understand what you’re saying. Grief is certainly not one size fits all, although we can help each other through hard times by sharing our personal stories. Sending hugs, prayers–and extra hope–your way.

  8. What a beautiful post. I think each of us deals with grief, and the moving on through life, in different ways. I know people who read and read and read about it and others, like you, who cannot read about more grief; your own is enough. There is no right way to do it. But, having the books on your shelf can remind you of the love you have around you.

  9. I have the same type of [hidden] shelf but only holding two books my pastor and a friend gave me when my husband passed away suddenly. I received the books only after they saw I wasn’t handling my grief very well. One of those books really helped me through the grief, and I was kind of the opposite of others. I actually wanted to know that someone, anyone else was hurting the same as I and for similar reasons. Everyone processes their grief differently and fifteen years later, those books are tucked away, but the grief is still here; it’s just more manageable. Hugs to you.

  10. Glad to see you are still around. I have been following your adventures on other social media, but still nice to see a blog post from you.

  11. I just wanted to let you know that I may not always comment, but I read every single one of your posts. Know that people are always thinking of you and how inspiring you are. ❤

  12. You know my thoughts are with you … You need to do what seems right for you, but reading sometimes does help.

  13. I understand. I can, or rather I choose, not to read certain books or see certain movies since my brother’s untimely death in 2015. I will say, however for me, I found Healing After Loss tremendously helpful and comforting. I couldn’t concentrate or sleep, but I knew I could read one page a day. Some of those days, the written words expressed how I felt and didn’t know how to say. It is a book I do give people dealing with grief. I always put in a note explaining why I am sending it and that if they read it, or tear it up, or throw it against the wall, I hope it helps.

  14. I have a grief book basket filled with about a dozen books, most given to me by friends and some books that I bought. I am slowly reading them and finding helpful parts in each. Our journeys are each unique and I send you hugs.

  15. I’m glad one of the books has struck a chord with you and that you’re still writing and posting. Your words help many people, more than you know, I’m sure! I’m one of those who finds reading books written by others who have gone through something to be helpful and cathartic, but with something so personal as grief, not every book is going to be one you can connect with.

  16. As with anything — we find our own way and what does or doesn’t help is individual, too. As long as you get from A to B to C and so on, that’s what matters oxox

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