Two Turtle Doves: Dealing with Grief

Blogging this weekend eluded me.  I found myself like all of you, I imagine– utterly numb.

The horrors of Sandy Hook shook me more than any of the other terrible shootings in recent history, because I live in an elementary school.  I’ve lived in elementary schools for more than twenty years.  My husband teaches in an elementary school, and my daughter attends one.  Elementary school is the orbit in which my family exists.

Even though I don’t know any of the Sandy Hook teachers, I look at their photos and I know them.  I know their kind smiles.  I know how they’ve been trained to react in lockdown situations, because I’ve had that training, too.  I know teachers who, I’d bet the farm, would be equally heroic as Sandy Hook’s teachers in the face of their own mortality.  That is what so many teachers I know would do for their children.  The brave educators in Newtown knew those students weren’t just their students.  They were their children.  All of our children.

In light of all that, I couldn’t imagine what books to bring to light. Blogging feels pretty small in the face of such devastating tragedy. But as people more eloquent than me have said, those lost are in Heaven now.  It’s the living we need to console.  And, I think, books are not trivial in their power to heal.  Books are potent salve.

So for today, Day Two of my Twelve Days of Books, I offer two books that help all of us, young and old, deal with grief.  First, a powerful book about sadness by esteemed British writer Michael Rosen, MICHAEL ROSEN’S SAD BOOK (Candlewick Press 2005).  Rosen’s honest portrayal of his own volatile emotions after the death of his son will resonate with anyone who has experienced periods of deep sadness, aged five to ninety-five.  I like it most because it separates the feeling from the person experiencing the feeling.  Rosen describes how his sadness makes him do crazy or bad things, and then turns to more healing thoughts and memories of himself with his son.  The book is gut wrenching but validating, and unflinching in its address of overwhelming emotion.michaelrosenssadbook

Another book I’ve found is I MISS YOU, A FIRST LOOK AT DEATH(Barron’s Educational Series, 2001), by psychotherapist/self-help author Pat Thomas.  Straight-forward in execution, this is a book to introduce very young children to the concept of death.  I think it would be helpful for any such situation, from the loss of a grandparent to more unexpected loss.  Thomas uses language to frame death in terms of a part of the natural life cycle.  It lightly touches on situations that are more sudden, but focuses on the finding of peace.

We could all use more peace.  All our hearts are broken.  I send my love to Newtown.


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