Grief can be a catalyst for questions about life, loss, and meaning, and is thus a recurring topic for religion/spirituality publishers. Classics have sold steadily for decades, and new titles appear each season. The beloved books include Good Grief by Granger E. Westerberg (Fortress), which marked 2010 with a 50th anniversary edition. Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff (Eerdmans), first published in 1987, is one of the publisher’s top-selling books each year. C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed (HarperOne) has sold more than 600,000 copies since 1989. In that classic, Lewis wrote, “Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.” That quote could also describe the content of several forthcoming books. A collection of meditations, a journal created by grief counselors, and a memoir by a novelist who lost a son offer guidance for readers in the process of mourning.
Grieving the Loss of a Loved One: Daily Meditations by Lorene Hanley Duquin (Our Sunday Visitor, Oct.) is a collection of substantive one-page meditations. The author is a grief counselor who found coping with her mother’s death “more difficult than I had ever imagined.” The Catholic meditations tackle topics familiar to many who grieve: “Feeling Crushed,” “Feeling Crazy,” and “Where is God?” Each begins with a quote by authors ranging from Shakespeare to Joan Didion and offer intelligent, encouraging reflections and advice. Sidebars include prayers, Bible verses, and practical tips, such as how to cope with sleepless nights.
Hope Heals: A Journal of Love, Loss & Memories, by Sarah Kroenke and Daena Esterbrooks (Tristan, Oct.) is a journal for adults and teens, written by counselors at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital’s Growing Through Grief program in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The journal, with space for readers to write and paste pictures, is colorful, straightforward, and never clinical. There are suggested activities and places for mourners to record feelings and memories, like the loved one’s favorite foods and TV shows. “A lot of times people don’t know what to do with those things,” said Esterbrooks. “We want this to be a safe place for that.” The book does not offer a particular faith perspective, but a more general spirituality. “It’s the nuts and bolts of grief work. The hope is that at the end of the book you have found some healing as you’ve gone on this journey.”
Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Lasting Hope and Healing by Christian novelist Margaret Brownley (Thomas Nelson, July) offers 90 days of devotionals and tips, with haikus written by Diantha Ain. Readings include a Bible verse followed by a story or interpretation. The Healing Ways section of each reading features advice ranging from “keep your smart phone handy” to download a Bible, to breathing deeply and avoid overeating. Introductory pages to each of the four sections contrast God’s Way and Man’s Way of grieving. Brownley makes that distinction based on her Bible reading and her experience. Just six months after her son’s death, an acquaintance asked why she wasn’t over it. “God tells us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” Brownley said. “He doesn’t tell us to run through it.”