WEDNESDAY READS Books to help through grief or challenges

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by GWEN REYES

WFAA Special Contributor

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 5:16 PM

1. "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, and receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class” -- lessons in how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.

2. "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant" by Roz Chast

In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet” — with predictable results — the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies — an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades — the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role, aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution, dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies, managing logistics, and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.

An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, "Can We Talk about Something More Pleasant" will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller.

3. "Living When a Loved One Has Died" by Earl A. Grollman

When someone you love dies, Earl Grollman writes, "there is no way to predict how you will feel. The reactions of grief are not like recipes, with given ingredients, and certain results [...] Grief is universal. At the same time it is extremely personal. Heal in your own way."

If someone you know is grieving, Living When a Loved One Has Died can help. Earl Grollman explains what emotions to expect when mourning, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to work through feelings of loss. Suitable for pocket or bedside, this gentle book guides the lonely and suffering as they move through the many facets of grief, begin to heal, and slowly build new lives.

4. "Healing After Loss" by Martha Whitmore Hickman

Daily meditations for those who have loss and are grieving.

5. "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch

Professor Randy Pausch's moving and inspirational book based on his extraordinary last lecture, a global phenomenon now seen by over 25 million people all over the world. On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver his last lecture. Telling his audience about the cancer that would soon claim his life, Randy shared what he felt were the most valuable ways to live, and the most valuable lessons he could pass on to his young children - the real reason he gave the lecture - to help them make their way in the world.

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