Books about Bereavement

             A few books about Bereavement 


The minister reviews and recommends a few books which may be of help

to anybody who is bereaved. These books can be borrowed from the

church library which is in the Iona room.


A Grief Observed by CS Lewis

“What do people mean when they say, 'I am not afraid of God because I know

He is good'? Have they never even been to a dentist?”  The Christian theologian

and author of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe married later in life only to

care for his wife as she died of cancer.  This was the basis of the famous play and

film Shadowlands. He kept a diary of the experience which is a most human, personal

and insightful exploration of grief. He raises questions about changing perspective of

God whom he had lectured about for years but now experienced in a different and

challenging way.  The book was first published under another name NT Clerk as the

questions about God would have shocked people coming from such a respected

theologian.  This is a wonderful little book.

“I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether

they'll 'say something about it' or not. I hate if they do, and if they don't.”


New Journeys Now Begin by Tom Gordon

“Bereavement is a journey to be travelled, not an illness to be treated or a

problem to be solved.”

As a former Chaplain to the Mari Curie Foundation, Tom uses stories, prayers

and poems to explore some of the real experiences of the dying and their

families as they face this difficult journey either together or alone.  A very

accessible and enlightening book.


All in the End is Harvest (an anthology for those who grieve) Ed. Agnes Whitaker

This book contains readings, poems and prayers alongside the background

to their authorship. In doing so it explores many aspects of the emotional,

painful and healing journey of letting go. It acknowledges the pain of loss

while offering images, pictures and words of hope.


Meaningful Funerals by Ewan Kelly

The former chaplain at St Columba’s Hospice shares thoughts about our

approach to death and ritual in a post modern era.  What is a meaningful

funeral for a family with no church connection or Christian understanding?

How do we enable people to fulfil a meaningful rite when life has no meaning?

Ewan explores what people might mean by spirituality without institutional religion.


The Five People you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

A wonderful novel on life and death which challenges our assumptions about a

meaningful life. In a heroic attempt to save a little girl from being killed by an

amusement park ride that is about to fall, Eddie is killed and sent to heaven,

where he encounters five people who significantly impacted him while he was

alive.  This is not a depressing book and is so much worth a read.  "It is because

the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn't

just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between

being taken and being missed, lives are changed."


Letting Go by Ian Ainsworth Smith

Although first published in the early 1980’s this remains one of the best pastoral

care books on grief that there is.  It sets our care of the bereaved in a theological

setting while offering practical pastoral help. Although written with ministers in mind

it is appropriate for elders and for anyone who ministers alongside the bereaved.


Church Hymnary 4th Edition

Have a read through some of the hymns in the section Death and

Grieving (725 – 736) which offer an expression of faith in the context

of death. 727, In the bulb there is a flower; 730, From the falter of breath;

and 735 Go, Silent Friend, among others touch the heart of the human

experience and the engagement with faith.   People, understandably,

tend to select more familiar ones for funeral services but I often read one

of them at the service depending on the circumstances. Some of the language

surprises us by its sense of faith and hope: for example, 735 verse 4.

“Go, silent friend, we do not grudge you glory;

sing, sing with joy deep praises to your Lord.

You, who believed that Christ would come back for you,

now celebrate that Jesus keeps his word.”


You can read all the words and listen to this beautiful hymn

sung to the Londonderry Air by clicking here.