Resources to Help You Give the Best Support to Grieving Families (part 2)

Above and Beyond

Staying on top of the logistics of running a successful funeral business can leave you with precious little time to devote to less urgent, more nuanced business needs. Case in point – – You know you’d like to go above and beyond, to offer more compassionate touches to what you already do for grieving families. But who has the bandwidth to come up with extras that will elevate the service you bring to your role as funeral director?

In part 1 of our recent blog, Resources to Help You Give the Best Support to Grieving Families, we shared a list of podcasts and TEDx talks to help families work through grief and loss. To go along with those audio sources of comfort, we’ve put together a list of great books and websites. Some are how-to oriented. Others are more about sharing personal journeys and day-to-day wisdom after losing a loved one.

You’ll likely see resources you’re already familiar with on this list. But chances are, you’ll also find at least a few book titles and websites that you haven’t yet discovered. Take a look and see which will be of help to the families you work with:

Books for Adults

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Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman

5 stars on Amazon and 4.5 stars on Goodreads

These daily meditations and thoughtful insights provide comfort and inspiration to work through grief in one’s own way. As one of the opening passages so wisely says, “Perhaps the most reassuring thing about grieving is that the process will not be cheated. It will take as much time as it needs. Our task is to be attentive when the messages of mind and memory come. If we let them go unattended the first time they will probably cost more in the long run.” Although it’s designed to be read in daily succession, this book is one that could be opened to any page for a dose of healing inspiration and thoughtfulness.

Please Be Patient, I’m Grieving: How to Care for and Support the Grieving Heart by Gary Roe

5 stars on Amazon and 4.4 on Goodreads

Goodreads has this to say, “Bestselling author, hospice chaplain, and grief specialist Gary Roe gives you a look at the grieving heart – the thoughts, emotions, and struggles within. If you’re wanting to help someone who’s grieving, you’ll get a glimpse of what’s going on inside them and be better able to love and support them.” And, if you’re the one grieving, this highly rated book will also help you better understand your own healing process.

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The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping With Grief and Change After the Death of Our Parents by Alexander Levy

4.5 stars on Amazon and 4 stars on Goodreads

First published almost 20 years ago, this book continues to be rated highly on book sites like Goodreads and Amazon. As adults, the eventual loss of our parents is something we expect. What we may not anticipate is the disorientation and resulting shift that no longer being a son or daughter can create. As Levy points out, we often begin to think in terms of “time remaining” rather than “time elapsed.” He uses his own personal story of loss and grief along with recounted stories of many others to provide insight and comfort.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

4.5 stars on Amazon and 4 stars on Goodreads

The book’s central theme is that we are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Rather, it is like a muscle that we can build and draw upon as we need. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, shares personal insights drawn from the sudden loss of her husband, and Wharton professor, Adam Grant shares research he’s done on finding strength and resilience within ourselves.

Books for Children

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Ida, Always by Caron Levis

5 stars on Amazon and 4.5 stars on Goodreads

As described on Amazon, “Ida, Always is an exquisitely told story of two best friends—inspired by a real bear friendship—and a gentle, moving, needed reminder that loved ones lost will stay in our hearts, always.”

Death is Stupid by Anastasia Higginbotham

4.5 stars on Amazon and 4.5 stars on Goodreads

An unflinching and realistic explanation of death, this straight-shooting narrative addresses some of the unhelpful platitudes that people say…especially when they don’t really know what to say. Written for children, Death is Stupid resonates with and brings comfort to adults as well.

According to Goodreads, “This forthright exploration of grief and mourning recognizes the anger, confusion, and fear that we feel about death…Death Is Stupid is an invaluable tool for talking about death, but also the possibilities for celebrating life and love.”

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and Geoffrey Stevenson

4.5 stars on Amazon and 4.5 stars on Goodreads

Recommended by a variety of children’s support organizations and groups such as the National Association of School Psychologists and numerous foster care agencies and bereavement support groups, this book emphasizes how we are all connected to the ones we love via an “invisible string.” The string can never be cut or torn, remaining even through sadness, anger and death. Children and adults alike will find comfort in this heartwarming story.

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Lifetimes: A Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie

4.5 stars on Amazon and 4.2 stars on Goodreads

Author, Bryan Mellonie, speaks about plants, animals and people and how death is a natural part of each being’s unique lifetime, that dying is as much a part of living as is being born. Parents will welcome the help in talking to children about death, and likely they will appreciate the sensitive messages themselves. Even 35 years after first being published, there’s good reason this book continues to be highly rated and recommended.

Websites that Help

Beyond the numerous books that address grieving and loss, there are plenty of good websites that are full of warmth and wisdom, commiseration and advice. As you well know, everyone handles death and mourning differently. Providing families with information on at least a few different websites will allow them to see the various styles of online support available, and then choose for themselves.

Whether the loss is recent or older, the websites we feature here have a lot to offer — both for those who are grieving, and the people who care about them:

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What’s Your Grief? — Otherwise known as WYG

With over 20 years of experience in grief and bereavement, Baltimore-based mental health professionals, Litsa Williams and Eleanor Haley, have created a site that has something for everyone. Whether it’s grieving adults, parents, people who care for or professionally help those in mourning — they’ve got you covered. You’ll find tools, blogs and education all with a warm, friendly tone. It’s both inviting and educational.

Drawing upon both personal and professional experience in what they offer, their mission is to promote grief education, exploration, and expression in practical and creative ways. Rather than try and rush of process of bereavement, WYG encourages their readers to work through their feelings in positive, long lasting ways.

Modern Loss — Candid Conversations About Grief

The two co-founders of this modern, edgy website have such strong journalism and writing backgrounds, each with a strong and irreverent voice, any attempt we’d make to paraphrase the “about” and “who” of it all would fall short. Suffice it to say that this is not your ordinary grief and loss support resource.

Taken directly from the website, here’s how they describe it:

“Modern Loss is a place to share the unspeakably taboo, unbelievably hilarious, and unexpectedly beautiful terrain of navigating your life after a death. Beginners welcome.

This project grew out of two friends’ separate experiences with sudden loss, and their struggle to find resources that weren’t too clinical, overtly religious, patronizing or, frankly, cheesy.”

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The Dougy Center — The National Center for Grieving Children & Their Families

You may alread be familiar with this website that brings together a variety of resources for children, teens and their families coping with loss and grieving. Here you’ll find recommended books, pamphlets, tips on coping, podcasts and even access to training programs for those interested in helping grieving children. It’s got great information for families that need suggestions on how to help their child or teen.

TAPS — Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc.

TAPS helps families grieving the loss of a member of the military. They offer a wide variety of resources including online chat groups, retreats, care groups and events.

The Grief Recovery Method Co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook, John W. James, founded The Grief Recovery Institute after losing his son and not finding the help he needed to deal with his overwhelming grief. At the time, James found plenty of intellectual help, but that wasn’t what he needed — “…my brain wasn’t really broken, it was my heart.” The institute’s website is another great source of blogs, book and support group listings. They also offer certification to become a grief recovery specialist.

Wrap-up

With this set of book and website resource suggestions and our previous audio recommendations, you should feel inspired to put together a resource list, unique to your funeral home. One that will help families work through loss in their own time, often long after they’ve finished interacting with you. And that’s just the kind of thing that makes a difference.

It doesn’t have to take a lot to go above and beyond for the families you help. Something so simple as a trusted list of bereavement related books, audio and online materials can make a big impression.

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