The other day I had a conversation with a group of moms about books we've read to help us along in our journeys. I walked away from the conversation totally overwhelmed with the sheer volume of literature out there on the subject. It just makes me so sad to know that for so many of us, this is a reality. And a reality so troubling that there are tons of options out there for things to read on the subject.
Some are memoirs. Some are self-help written by moms. Some by doctors. Some literature is FOR doctors, nurses, midwives. Some are guided journals. Some isn't even published in books. Lots of it is online content. Web magazines devoted to helping moms (and dads!) navigate these unpredictable waters.
I've mentioned before how I was very reluctant to read anything in the earlier stages of my grieving. I think a lot of that stemmed from that place of denial. I didn't want to HAVE to read this stuff. It was so horribly sad. It couldn't possibly apply to me.
But it did. And it does. And I've compiled a short reading list on the subject. I may not get to it. But it's comforting to know it's there if I ever need that extra support. The one book I have read (at least most of), is "Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby." Perhaps the saddest titled book I've ever read, but definitely as helpful as the title is sad.
I'd like to share a bit about it for anyone who might be in need of such help. (Although sometimes I think that if you are someone supporting a grieving parent, there is so much merit in reading about what their journey is like in order to help you support more effectively).
The thing I loved most is how easy it is to navigate. At no point during my grief have I ever felt "up to" sitting down and reading an entire book from start to finish. Just the thought of trying to finish a book seemed (seems) too overwhelming most days. I take my "Step by Step" philosophy very seriously. And some days I was/am just too distractible to commit to any kind of reading for the long haul. So the incredibly precise Table of Contents in this book sets it apart from others. It's easy to read through the topics to decide what I need on a particular day: anniversary reactions, painful feelings (failure, anger, guilt, etc), affirming your baby, support networks, and so on.
Each chapter ends with a "Points to Remember" section. So on those REALLY hard days when I might read something and then forget it a second later, I can just read the quick recap at the end and feel supported.
Each chapter is also full of anecdotes from grieving moms. They stand out because they're offset in the text. Lots of days I needed these stories to feel less isolated. Other days I skipped them because they made me too sad. It was nice to have the choice and to know when they were coming.
Finally, the sheer scope of the book is fantastic. Some chapters I never read at all because they covered things from so early on in the process (like delivery, funeral planning, postpartum care, etc) that those moments had already come and gone fore me before I picked up the book. And then it extends to trying to conceiving again, subsequent pregnancies, and parenting after loss. I've scanned these chapters and so I already know how useful they will be when we get there.
I really can't say enough about how special this book is, how happy I am that I finally opened it some months ago now, and how lucky I am to have a friend thoughtful (and daring) enough to buy it for me even when I was so "sure" I didn't want to read any books.
We need support systems when we grieve. We need people. And sometimes, we need books.