We received many books from thoughtful friends after Rader died, and others I sought out myself to meet specific needs. I'm listing them here alphabetically by author for now. I'm including publication dates, but many have been reprinted and possibly updated. My reviews are incomplete. Some books I recall having read, but at the time I didn't make notes about what was helpful within. If you have a question about my thoughts on a specific book, it might be easiest to send me an email through the CONTACT section at the top left of the page.
Mourning Discoveries Family Care Series by Linda B. Findlay
During my first holiday season after Rader’s death, I received the ‘navigating through grief during the holidays’ book from an event I attended. Findlay shares quotes from a variety of sources including some of the hundreds of bereaved people she has interacted with since becoming a bereaved parent herself in 1989. She also offers no-nonsense advice with a huge dose of compassion and understanding. She includes a worksheet/checklist from the American Hospice Foundation for determining what holiday traditions you choose to observe, which you would prefer to set aside this year, and where you might like to try something new. I haven’t yet read the other books in her series. I’ll update when I do. You can order the books from The Grief Toolbox.
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery (2018)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A hardback with an invitingly illustrated colorful paper dust jacket and deckle-edged pages, its looks were what enticed me to pick up this book. I love a good memoir, and the description of this one made it seem likely to speak into my life as it is right now: mourning the loss of a child to suicide, figuring out what my purpose is now and how to be the mom my surviving child needs. “It ... explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.” This book was exactly what I hoped.
My Living Will: A Father’s Story of Loss & Hope by John Trautwein (2014)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
John Trautwein and I haven't met, but we are members of the same club. It's a club neither one of us wants to belong to, which he refers to in his memoir — My Living Will: A Father's Story of Loss & Hope — as "the saddest club on earth." We are parents who have lost a child to suicide.
I recommend My Living Will to anyone who has lost a loved one, especially a teenager, to suicide. And if you're lucky enough not to be a member of the saddest club on earth, there are still a lot of reasons to read My Living Will. You might learn something that will open the door for you to help someone else who, like Will, or Rader, may be struggling in silence. Especially if you have teenagers, take the time to read this book, and then talk with them about it. It could even be the difference between life and death.