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Centers for Good Mourning Resources

How Will I Get Through the Holidays? 12 Ideas for Those Whose Loved One Has Died by James E. Miller, Willowgreen Publishing, 1996.

James Miller has written many small books for those dealing with grief and facing serious illness. Each book is written in a gentle and affirming voice and has both good practical suggestions and helpful therapeutic insights. This book fits well within this pattern and could be especially useful and comforting for grievers facing the holidays early in their grief. While Miller's twelve ideas have much in common with other resources for handling grief during the holidays, several things set this resource apart in a positive way. One is Miller's kind and wise explanations of the twelve ideas (listed below). Another is the many insightful and inspirational quotes from a variety of writers and sources spread throughout the book and corresponding to and elaborating on particular ideas. Lastly, the organization of the book has just a few pages for each idea and this can be helpful for those for whom attention and focus is difficult in their grief. Miller is a good resource for accessible grief literature and this effort is a welcome one for those facing the holidays in a new world after the death of a significant person.

Miller's Twelve Ideas:

  • Accept the likelihood of your pain.
  • Feel whatever it is you feel.
  • Express your emotions.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Take charge where you can.
  • Turn to others for support.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Remember to remember.
  • Search out and count your blessings.
  • Do something for others.
  • Give voice to your soul.
  • Harbor hope.

Invisible String by Patrice Karst, illustrated by Geoff Stevenson, DeVorss Publications,, 2000.

In the adult grief world, we refer to it as "continuing bonds." The idea is that even after someone has died, we are and can be connected in healthy and life-affirming ways. For children (according to Patrice Karst and Geoff Stevenson), it's "the Invisible String" between the hearts of those who love each other. In this brightly and comfortably illustrated book, twins Liza and Jeremy rush from their beds to their mother after being awakened by a thunderstorm. Mom takes advantage of this teachable moment to explain that even if she is not physically close to them, they are always together and connected by an invisible string. This String connects parents to children, friends to friends, and families to pets. The children ask if it can reach to far-away places like France, the jungle or space, and, of course, the answer is "even there" each time. Jeremy asks if it can reach all the way to heaven and the answer remains the same, "Yes...even there." An additional and signficant point made is that love is stronger than anger and the String doesn't go away when people are mad at each other. In closing, the story emphasizes that because of the Invisible String, no one is ever truly alone.

This is a friendly and accessible book for younger elementary ages and teaches an important lesson about how we are connected to those we love despite distance, absence and death.

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