To Reflect: Fill the Gap


Tweet by @TorrensJonathan with text:
 "My dad died when I was 8. Every week a few of the dads on my hockey team would offer to tie my skates. Not in a big showy way, in a quiet kind way. They filled the gap. Find a way to fill the gap for someone. It'll make you both better."

To Read: Elizabeth Gilbert on Love, Loss, and How to Move Through Grief

Elizabeth Gilbert on Love, Loss, and How to Move Through Grief as Grief Moves Through You by Maria /Popova | Brain Pickings (10/17/18)

"How to move through this barely survivable experience is what author and altogether glorious human being Elizabeth Gilbert examines with uncommon insight and tenderness of heart in her conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson on the inaugural episode of the TED Interviews podcast.
'Grief… happens upon you, it’s bigger than you. There is a humility that you have to step into, where you surrender to being moved through the landscape of grief by grief itself. And it has its own timeframe, it has its own itinerary with you, it has its own power over you, and it will come when it comes. And when it comes, it’s a bow-down. It’s a carve-out. And it comes when it wants to, and it carves you out — it comes in the middle of the night, comes in the middle of the day, comes in the middle of a meeting, comes in the middle of a meal. It arrives — it’s this tremendously forceful arrival and it cannot be resisted without you suffering more… The posture that you take is you hit your knees in absolute humility and you let it rock you until it is done with you. And it will be done with you, eventually. And when it is done, it will leave. But to stiffen, to resist, and to fight it is to hurt yourself.'"

To Read: How Death Doulas Offer Emotional Support, Education During Final Stages of Life

How Death Doulas Offer Emotional Support, Education During Final Stages of Life By Lydia Christianson | Jordan Independent News (1/29/20)

"Death. It’s a taboo topic for many — some avoid the topic altogether. But there are those who confront it head on and help the rest of us do so, too.

They’re called death doulas. Similar to birth doulas, who work with families at the early stages of life, death doulas help at the end."

To Read: The Surprising Benefits of Contemplating Your Death

The Surprising Benefits of Contemplating Your Death By Sigal Samuel | Vox (August 12, 2020)

"Mortality might seem like a scary thing to contemplate — in fact, maybe you’re tempted to stop reading this right now — but that’s exactly why I’d say you should keep reading. Death is something we really don’t like to think or talk about, especially in the West. Yet our fear of mortality is what’s driving so much of our anxiety, especially during this pandemic.

Maybe it’s the prospect of your own mortality that scares you. Or maybe you’re like me, and thinking about the mortality of the people you love is really what’s hard to wrestle with.

Either way, I think now is actually a great time to face that fear, to get on intimate terms with it, so that we can learn how to reduce the suffering it brings into our lives."

To Reflect: Be the Things

Picture of a cornfield with the words: "Be the things you loved most about the people who are gone."

Picture of a cornfield at sunset with the words: 
"Be the things you loved most about the people who are gone."

To Read: 'I Was Completely Unprepared': Confronting My Sister's Death"

‘I Was Completely Unprepared’: Confronting My Sister’s Death By John Troyer | The Guardian (3/24/20)

"Despite my lived experience and academic credentials on human mortality, I was completely unprepared for Julie’s untimely death at the age of 43. I was not unprepared in that way many people are wholly unprepared for a person to die. There was an element of that emotion, but I was raised to understand that any person, especially the people we know and love, unexpectedly die all the time."

To Read: Death Positivity in the Face of Grief

Death Positivity in the Face of Grief By Megan Devine | The Order of the Good Death (1/18/18)

"There’s so much potential inside what we know as death positive people, but there is a chasm there, between the ways we talk about death in the abstract, and the ways we live inside actual death and grief.

We’ve got to start talking about grief in the face of deaths that are not beautiful."

"What we’re really doing, in both the death positive movement and its sister, the grief movement, is turning towards what feels scary and painful. We’re building skills, and gathering knowledge – not to avoid grief, but to withstand it. To able to companion each other, no matter what comes."

To Read: When COVID Upended Her Career Plans, A Local Mortician Stepped Forward To Help Families Deal With Death

When COVID Upended Her Career Plans, A Local Mortician Stepped Forward To Help Families Deal With Death By Andy Steiner | MinnPost (6/2/20)

"Woosley had grown increasingly disenchanted with the modern Western approach to death and dying, the idea that families needed to be separated from their deceased loved ones, that funerals must take place in impersonal chapels, that the terminally ill must spend their last months on earth fighting death rather than reflecting on their lives."

"She gave her notice at the university, earned end-of-life doula and funeral celebrant certifications, created a website and set out to build connections for her business. “My next step was going to be outreach to nursing homes and senior living facilities, to start forming connections with staff and residents,” she said.

Then everything changed."

To Watch: We Don't "Move On" from Grief. We Move Forward With It - Nora McInerny

We Don't "Move On" from Grief. We Move Forward With It By Nora McInerny | Ted Talks (April 25, 2019)

"In a talk that's by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, writer and podcaster Nora McInerny shares her hard-earned wisdom about life and death. Her candid approach to something that will, let's face it, affect us all, is as liberating as it is gut-wrenching. Most powerfully, she encourages us to shift how we approach grief. 'A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again,' she says. 'They're going to move forward. But that doesn't mean that they've moved on.'"

To Read: Coronavirus and How It Has Changed the Way We Grieve

Coronavirus and How It Has Changed the Way We Grieve by Jen Laskey | (Apr 30, 2020)

"The coronavirus has really changed the way we grieve. Not only are the distancing measures we’re taking to prevent the spread of infection keeping us from being with our loved ones in their last moments, this pandemic has completely changed the way we mourn with others."

To Read: How Horror Helps with Processing Grief and Trauma

How Horror Helps with Processing Grief and Trauma By S.F. Whitaker | Bookriot (1/13/20)

"Studies have shown that horror can help us with grief, anxiety, depression, and a number of other disorders. For someone experiencing a deep loss or processing trauma, it becomes less about the deaths and more about the survivor. Grief studies in particular have found that trying to make someone feel better only makes the situation worse. You’re invalidating their feelings rather than helping. A book can take someone suffering on a journey. You feel the pain with the characters, some surviving while others do not, and there is a resolution of some kind. The final person can become a personal patron saint of healing."

To Watch: Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper on Grief

Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper's Beautiful Conversation about Grief | YouTube (8/17/19)

“You wrote me a letter after my mom died,” he reminded Colbert. “In it you said, ‘I hope you find peace in your grief.’ One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about is how we don’t really talk about grief and loss. People are not comfortable talking about it. . . . And you’ve spoken very publicly about what you experienced as a kid — a lot of it I didn’t know. I think a lot of people don’t know. So if you don’t mind, I wanted to talk to you a little about it and sort of how it has shaped who you are now.”

To Read: Almost 90,000 Dead and No Hint of National Mourning

Almost 90,000 Dead and No Hint of National Mourning. Are These Deaths Not ‘Ours’? By Micki McElya | Washington Post (5/15/20) 

"In fact, there is a conspicuous absence of any collective mourning at all. The reason is as simple as it is terrible: We share no understanding of these staggering losses as ours, as belonging to all Americans, as national."

"Americans have a common set of expectations and rituals for responding to national losses, whether they’re from war, terrorism, school shootings, natural disasters or assassinations. ...The pandemic dead have received almost none of this, and the omission is significant — even if the dying is still just beginning. Shared grief brings people together like little else. In the absence of the common bonds of kinship, place, language, faith or heritage, national identity is forged in ritual and the sense of shared experience among strangers, the vast majority of whom will never know one another. It is made of feeling and remembering together. 

The English poet Laurie Lee put it this way in “Lying in State,” about the public memorializing of Winston Churchill at his death: 'Every resounding event seems to be followed by silence as history catches its breath. So it is this morning in this great bare hall — a silence like a fall of snow, holding the city and the world in a moment of profound reflection, reducing all men to a levelled pause.'"

To Read: 17 Best Books About Suicide for 2021

17 Best Books about Suicide for 2021 By Melissa Boudin, PsyD, Reviewed by Lynn Byars, MD, MPH, FACP | Choosing Therapy (2/11/21)

"Thinking about death is natural, but thoughts of suicide can overwhelm those struggling with depression or other mental health problems. Books about suicide, from novels to practical guides to personal stories, can help those struggling better understand this difficult subject."

This helpful and annotated list is divided into:
  • About the Science of Suicide
  • For Those Feeling alone
  • For Teenagers Dealing with a Suicide or Losing a Friend to Suicide
  • For Those Dealing with a Loss of a Loved One Due to Suicide
  • For Children Dealing with Suicide

To Read: Eight Things I Learned from Watching My Mum Die

Eight Things I Learned from Watching My Mum Die By Karen Schlaegel | Tiny Buddha 

"One of the things that struck me was that almost everyone has or will experience the death of a loved one. It had such a monumental impact on me, and I can only assume that it does for a lot of people, too, and so I would like to share my story.

Here are some of the lessons I learned, which arose from a very specific situation but which I feel are equally applicable to other challenging situations in life."