Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Club Titles to Help You Through the Holidays

Let's shoot for Thursday, Oct. 28 for our Book Club! I've chosen two books for you to select from--or read them both eventually--I'm sure you'll want to! But for the sake of time and freedom of choice, just read one or the other for now. One is very short, the other is longer; they're both very different from one another, but they're both great! With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's coming at us like a fully loaded freight train, these books will be invaluable.

From One Widow to Another--Conversations on the New You by Miriam Neff, Moody Publishers, 2009. 218 pages. (click Wednesday's sidebar on this blog and scroll down to June 2, for Miriam's bio and website).

      I can best describe From One Widow to Another as a handbook for widows. I wish it'd been around when my first husband died, but I'm glad Miriam got to keep her Bob for a few more years.
     This book lays out the nuts and bolts of widowhood. It's divided into four sections: Vulnerabilities, Strengths, Relationships, and The New You; plus an appendix for additional conversations and details about specific concerns: children, how to start a support group, church leadership guide for widows, seven tips to help widows, seven holiday tips, and financial forms. You may also find some of this information on her website
     Skim the book and then zoom in on the particular areas you're currently trying to deal with.
     In her conversational style, Miriam will help you understand the strongest emotions of grief, integrate valuable people into your life, identify if people are friends or "users" (like salespeople and widowers who are mostly looking for a caregiver or a supplemental paycheck). She helps you become a good "people picker." That's an important skill because, believe it or not, you are very vulnerable at this point in your life.
     Miriam also helps you understand the transformation you're facing. (I like the word transformation so much better than healing. It's more accurate--widowhood is not a disease!) She helps you find God's purpose for you, a reason for living, and so much more!
The Empty Chair--Handling grief on holidays and special occasions, by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeege and Robert C. DeVries, Baker Books, 2001. 91 pages.

     These authors know grief both professionally and personally. Their spouses died shortly before the holiday season. Robert, having accidently set a place for his wife at the holiday dinner table, and Susan, who wanted to skip Christmas, write with practicality and compassion using the profound metaphor of  a forest fire to describe grief and going through the holidays. Holidays are defined as all the calendar events--July 4th, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, etc.; plus the personal events of birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days.
     Each chapter briefly anchors the reader in what they've experienced: the devastation, the ashes, the memories, the hope. Then they share action points and healthy behaviors to implement, plus a page of reflection on Scripture and a written prayer.
     It's a beautiful nugget of a book. It's written to a general audience--for all who have lost any loved one, be it spouse, child, parent or friend. While the readership is assumed to be Christian, there are two candle-lighting memorials to choose from in the appendix of the book--one is non-religious, the other is Christian.
I hope these brief summaries will help you decide which book can benefit you the most at this time. As you read, mark quotes, helpful advice and questions you have. Jot these down and please be ready and willing to share them Oct. 28. You'll be surprised at how much you help others by simply stating your thoughts. Your perspective and experience are a real help and let others know they're not alone! 

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