Tag Archives: grief

Nicholson, Julie. A Song for Jenny: A Mother’s Story

jenny jenny

On 7 July 2005, Julie Nicholson’s life was changed forever. Her daughter, Jenny, was killed on her way to work in the London bombings, shaking Julie’s beliefs. With heartbreaking honesty and integrity, Julie tells her story of love, tragedy and heartache for the first time.

Jenny Nicolson was travelling to work when a bomb exploded at Edgware Road Tube station. Her mother, Reverend Julie Nicholson, struggled to comprehend the tragedy, her sorrow and longing for her daughter turning to rage and anger. Finding herself unable to articulate the three parts of the Eucharist: peace, reconciliation and forgiveness, because she ‘felt so far from those herself’, Julie made the difficult decision to resign her role as priest-in-charge of St Aidan with St George Church, Bristol, unable to reconcile her feelings with her position.

Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 0007250819

Deraniyagala, Sonali. Wave: A Memoir of Life After the Tsunami

wave wave

The book opens and we are inside the wave: thirty feet high, moving at twenty-five mph, racing two miles inland. And from there into the depths of the author’s despair: how to live now that her life has been undone?

Sonali Deraniyagala tells her story – the loss of her two boys, her husband, and her parents – without artifice or sentimentality. In the stark language of unfathomable sorrow, anger, and guilt: she struggles through the first months following the tragedy — someone always at her side to prevent her from harming herself, her whole being furiously clenched against the reality she can’t face; and then reluctantly emerging and, over the ensuing years, slowly allowing her memory to function again.

Then she goes back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning, from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo while learning the balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and her fundamental need to keep her family, somehow, still with her.

Publisher: Virago
Year 2013
ISBN-10: 184408907X

Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found

wild wild

At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America – from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington state – and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing together a life that lay in ruins at her feet.

Publisher: Atlantic Books
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1782394869

Hood Ann. Comfort: A Journey Through Grief

hood comfort

In 2002, Ann Hood’s five-year-old daughter Grace died suddenly from a virulent form of strep throat. Stunned and devastated, the family searched for comfort in a time when none seemed possible. Hood-an accomplished novelist-was unable to read or write. She could only reflect on her lost daughter-“the way she looked splashing in the bathtub …the way we sang ‘Eight Days a Week.'” One day, a friend suggested she learn to knit. Knitting soothed her and gave her something to do. Eventually, she began to read and write again. A semblance of normalcy returned, but grief, in ever new and different forms, still held the family. What they could not know was that comfort would come, and in surprising ways. Hood traces her descent into grief and reveals how she found comfort and hope again-a journey to recovery that culminates with a newly adopted daughter.

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 039333659X

Macdonald, Helen. H is for Hawk

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As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.

H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.

Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 0099575450

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Porter, Max. Grief is the Thing with Feathers

feather  feather3d

In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.

In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him.

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Year: 2016;
ISBN-10: 0571327230

Hustvedt, Siri. What I have loved

whatloved   whatloved3d

In 1975 art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a New York gallery. He buys the work, tracks down its creator, Bill Weschler, and the two men embark on a life-long friendship.

This is the story of their intense and troubled relationship, of the women in their lives and their work, of art and hysteria, love and seduction and their sons – born the same year but whose lives take very different paths.

Publisher: Sceptre
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 0340682388

Chekhov, Anton. [Coulehan, Jack (ed).] Chekhov’s Doctors: A Collection of Chekhov’s Medical Tales

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In his brief life, Chekhov was a doctor, essayist, dramatist and a humanitarian. He saw no conflict between art and science or art and medicine. This collection of stories presents powerful portraits of doctors in their everyday lives, struggling with their own personal problems.

Publisher: Kent State University Press
Year: 2003
ISBN-10: 0873387805

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Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies

maladies maladies3d

“Pulitzer-winning, scintillating studies in yearning and exile from a Bengali Bostonian woman of immense promise.

A couple exchange unprecedented confessions during nightly blackouts in their Boston apartment as they struggle to cope with a heartbreaking loss; a student arrives in new lodgings in a mystifying new land and, while he awaits the arrival of his arranged-marriage wife from Bengal, he finds his first bearings with the aid of the curious evening rituals that his centenarian landlady orchestrates; a schoolboy looks on while his childminder finds that the smallest dislocation can unbalance her new American life all too easily and send her spiralling into nostalgia for her homeland…

Jhumpa Lahiri’s prose is beautifully measured, subtle and sober, and she is a writer who leaves a lot unsaid, but this work is rich in observational detail, evocative of the yearnings of the exile (mostly Indians in Boston here), and full of emotional pull and reverberation.”

Publisher: Flamingo
Year: 2000
ISBN-10: 0006551793

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Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones.

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“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.”

This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy, suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet . . . The Lovely Bones is a luminous and astonishing novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting – but, above all, about finding light in the darkest of places.

Publisher: Picador
Year: 2003
ISBN-10: 0330485385

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Didion, Joan.The Year of Magical Thinking

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“Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later – the night before New Year’s Eve –the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of 40 years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LA airport, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Centre to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion’s ‘attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory … about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself’. The result is an exploration of an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad.”

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0007216858

Rentzenbrink, Cathy. The Last Act of Love: The Story of My Brother and His Sister

lastlove lastlove3d

“In the summer of 1990, Cathy’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death.

This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It’s a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed. Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family’s survival and the price we pay for love.”

Publisher: Picador
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1447286375

Gilmour D, Waters R. The Wall

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“The Wall is a concept album and explores themes of abandonment and personal isolation. The album is a rock opera that follows Pink, a character whom Waters modelled after himself and the band‘s original leader, Syd Barrett. Pink’s life begins with the loss of his father during the Second World War and continues with abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother, and the breakdown of his marriage; all contribute to his eventual self-imposed isolation from society, represented by a metaphorical wall. Waters conceived the album during Pink Floyd’s 1977 In the Flesh Tour, when his frustration with the audience became so acute that he imagined a wall between the audience and the stage.”

Plenty of different tracks to enjoy – but impossible in an education establishment (even a student-focused one) not to worry about that ‘dark sarcasm’ and  ‘thought control’ – Hey teacher…

Rutherford, Michael; Robertson, Brian (Mike and the Mechanics) The Living Years

Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got

You say you just don’t see it
He says it’s perfect sense
You just can’t get agreement in this present tense
We all talk a different language, talking in defense

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts

So don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective on a different day
And if you don’t give up, and don’t give in, you may just be okay

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

Read more: Mike & The Mechanics – The Living Years Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Redford, Robert (dir). Ordinary People

ordinary

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

Producers: Ronald L. Schwary
Year: 1980
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Alvin Sargent

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Eyre, Richard (dir). Iris

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A biographical film that tells the story of novelist Iris Murdoch and her relationship with John Bayley. The film contrasts the start of their relationship, when Murdoch (Kate Winslet) was an outgoing, dominant individual as compared to her timid and scholarly partner Bayley (Hugh Bonneville), and their later life, when Murdoch (Judi Dench) was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and tended to by a frustrated Bayley (Jim Broadbent) in their North Oxford home in Charlbury Road.

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McEwan, I. Enduring Love

Joe planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside to celebrate his lover’s return after six weeks in the States. The perfect day turns to nightmare, however, when they are involved in freak ballooning accident in which a boy is saved but a man is killed.  In itself, the accident would change the couple and the survivors’ lives, filling them with an uneasy combination of shame, happiness, and endless self-reproach. But fate has far more unpleasant things in store for Joe. Meeting the eye of fellow rescuer Jed Parry, for example, turns out to be a very bad move. For Jed is instantly obsessed, making the first of many calls to Joe and Clarissa’s London flat that very night.

Author: McEwan, Ian
Title: Enduring Love
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1998
ISBN: 0099276585

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Viewer Comments:

Comment

Great actors in the film….Daniel Craig and Rhys Ifans…but it’s really rubbish. Hope the book is better.

Comment

I thought the book was great. As well as being a griping story (partly about a man with a rare mental illness) it’s also a touching portrait of what can happen to a seemingly stable relationship when it is put under great pressure.

Minghella, A. (dir) Truly, Madly, Deeply

Jonathan Bynoe (HYMS): I recently re-watched Truly Madly Deeply (available on DVD) by Anthony Minghella, starring Juliet Stephenson & Alan Rickman. It is a wonderful exploration of bereavement,
in this case of a young woman whose cellist husband dies suddenly in the first flush of their relationship. It portrays the effect of her loss, and the stages from denial to acceptance of her bereavement. It shows as external happenings the changes that are going on in her brain. More importantly, it is both happy and sad, occasionally very funny, in the way that bereavement sometimes is. It taught me a lot.

Title: Truly, Madly, Deeply, MGM, 1990.
Direction: Minghella, Anthony
Production:
Cooper, Robert
Writing: Minghella, Anthony

Viewer Comments:

Comment

Juliet Stevenson’s acting is astounding, the ‘I miss him, I miss him…’ sequence is guaranteed to stay with you. (Film written and directed by the late Anthony Minghella,famous Hull University student)

Zola, Emile. Thérèse Raquin

Janine Henderson HYMS: “Perhaps one of the most miserable books I have ever read, but gripping nonetheless!  Deals with human frailty really, guilt, grief, depression and finally suicide (and a mother with “locked-in syndrome” in the centre of the unfolding plot.”

Publisher: Penguin Classics
ISBN-10: 9780140449440

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