What is the “work” of grief and how do you know you’re doing it? When I was new to grief, I kept hearing that the passing of time on its own wouldn’t heal me, and that I had to do “the work” of grief or else I’d remain stuck in it. But no one really told me what that work was, at least not in simple terms I could handle at that stage. Now looking back, I’d say the work of grief is the following:
feeling your feelings
communicating with your loved one (written, aloud, or in thought) even if it feels pointless
talking to other grievers
reading grief books
attending a support group
self-care (resting a lot, meditating, gentle exercise, healthy foods)
spending time alone when you need it
spending time with others when you want to
being selfish (listening to your own needs)
discovering your own tools that work just for you (I started watching QVC because I knew nothing painful would happen there)
You will find suggestions on each of these individual items in the index of the book or you can simply do them your own way. These are the steps you take to get through the process of grieving. There is no order or special way; you let your internal guide tell you which of these items you can handle in a day. Some of these activities will be needed in the early stages of grief, and some are useful throughout your life. The key is to learn to listen to the quiet, intuitive instruction that is built into all of us so that you can meet your own needs at any stage.
—Excerpt from “Companion”
Companion in Grief, by Trevy Thomas
Yes, it’s mine, but it’s everything I know about grief and is designed to help you feel less alone with this painfully lonely process.
Healing After Loss, by Martha W. Hickman
This title helped me tremendously during my first year of grief. Like mine, it’s a daily reader. Unlike mine, there are a lot of religious references.
Widow to Widow, by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg
There is something slightly old fashioned about this book (it was first published in 1997), but it offers good advice suited for widows and is warm and comforting.