My reading has always been all over the place. There are genres I love, like mysteries and gardening books, and I love children’s literature. But reading is how I process most things in life. Books and authors are my guides. I am curious and a learner and have gotten my best education from my books. So simply put, I read all kinds of things, and when I need to learn about a new topic, I dive in head first.
Byron and I are now facing changes and challenges that require a whole new education. Thus, I am reading about all kinds of topics that I haven’t read about before so I’ve started calling this “my other reading.” Many of these books, articles, even research papers are recommended by our current support team which is made up of family and friends, doctors and our grief counselor, and new acquaintances who are going through similar things to what we are facing.
Some of this reading I am doing slowly, over time, because the topic is so intense emotionally. Others I am reading quickly needing the information right now already. And some are fiction that give me a completely different view and understanding of our situation.
This “other” reading is helping me understand, cope, prepare, and live with the certainty and uncertainties of life since Byron’s diagnosis.
My current “other” reading:
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gwandi, after having loaned it to our daughter to read. This is a reread for me. It’s such an important topic, rarely discussed in public, but a book that I think everyone should read. We are all mortal.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, is beautifully written, but difficult (emotionally) to read. I’m reading it a little bit at a time, learning sooo much about cancer, and finding passages that perfectly describe our life right now.
During one session recently, my grief counselor read to me an excerpt from the book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, by Francis Weller. The passage she read to me was called “An Accumulation of Losses,” and it really hit home with me. So I ordered that book and am slowly reading it, savoring the wisdom it imparts.
She also recommended that I read the book Cured: Strengthen Your Immune System and Heal Your Life, by Jeffrey Rediger, MD. I was hesitant at first to read this one because “being cured” seemed like such a long shot when we are coming to terms with the finality of Byron’s diagnosis. But as the author says, “We have a lot of work to do, in both medicine and as a larger culture, when it comes to talking about death and understanding what it can tell us about life,” and this book is full of ideas to ponder about life when faced with a terminal diagnosis.
Last year, I read a fiction book that touched my heart. The Springtime of the Year, by Susan Hill, was a story of loss and grief. A young, newly married woman loses her husband in a sudden accident. Her journey through grief and how she found her way back into Life, was beautifully told.
I also recently read a non-fiction book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Notes on Grief, was about the sudden loss of her father during the Covid 19 quarantine (he did not have Covid), and her own journey through the grief and difficulties of losing him during a pandemic. I wrote a mini-review of it here.
One of the most poignant stories I’ve read about loss and grief is Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell. My review of it is here.
And finally, I am reading a lot of Mary Oliver‘s poetry…because she puts it into words…beautifully deep-felt words.
I read your link regarding your husband’s diagnosis. Thank you for sharing such personal testimony. I think we all need to ponder these things bc none of us are exempt from dealing with these issues at some point in our lives. These last many years I have been the one who has had to deal with continual health issues, and last year I was faced with an ovarian tumor (which was benign); but waiting to find out was challenging. When I had time to think about it, I found that I was most grateful that it was me having to endure the wait and the possibility, not my children or my husband because I don’t want them to go through that.
Anyway, I think it is a blessing that you have found books to open your heart and mind to these difficult days you must face together.
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Thank you, grllopez, for your kind words and for understanding firsthand how difficult the journey we are on. I’m glad that your experience with the possibility of having ovarian cancer had a positive outcome. Best wishes for a healthy new year coming up!
You have some heavy heading on your list – space yourself please. I read and enjoyed: The Emperor of Maladies, Being Mortal and Notes on Grief – all excellent books.
BTW – I love your header with the spotted cat who has similar markings to our Lucy.
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Thank you, Diane. It is heavy reading, and I am definitely spacing it out. I had to open up a new category on my Goodreads page — “reading slowly over time” — because I can’t take it on all at once. But what I’ve read so far has been very helpful. And I’m glad you like my header this week. The cat belongs to my neighbor, but our porch belongs to this cat! I love to look out the window and see him there.
Like you, I have read many books in order to learn how to deal with various aspects of grief over the years. I read Being Mortal several years ago and thought it was outstanding. Most of the other books I read dealt with the loss of a child. I’m very much interested in The Emperor of All Maladies, having lost both of my fathers to cancer. Frances Weller’s book also sounds like one I’d like to explore. I’ve already added Susan Hill’s novel to my tbr list and Notes on Grief has just been added. Hamnet is on my shelf (I missed reading it for my book group discussion) and I’ll read it in early January. I appreciate you taking the time to share these titles with us and for inspiring me to put together a post with some of my favorite books on this subject. I know there are some who don’t want to read about death and grief, but I find it comforting to read passages that validate my emotions and fears.
I’m sending you love and hugs, dear Robin.
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Thank you for the love and hugs, Les. They mean a lot! And I feel very much like you in reading about loss and grief. I’m finding help, comfort, and solace in my readings.