If you're trying to pick a holiday gift for a grieving friend, you're probably stumped. If you're a widowed person trying to pick through the hundreds of titles that might help you navigate through your new world, you're probably in even more of a crisis. Both of you, prospective shoppers, feel you're walking through a minefield, but let me say, you're kind to think of a gift for them (for yourself).
I've reviewed a few of the titles that have been released in the past year (and a few others) along with my "take" on them as reading for grieving people to help you find not only the right gift, but to give it at the right time.
It's pretty close to Christmas to publish a gift list for widowed people, but books ship fast (eBooks instantly), and I'll bet these gifts will be appreciated late... Perhaps billing them as "New Year's Gifts" would work better? (And remember, the Twelve Days of Christmas are supposed to START on Christmas... they will be happy you're not sending a partridge, right?).
People who have lost a partner are tired of platitudes and usually aren't helped by bland encouragement, so the average "gift book" that occurs to you may backfire. None of the books I'm discussing sugarcoats the experience of grief and loss. All were written by people who've "been there" (lived through a significant loss, most of them were widowed). This is important because while it's hard to grab the attention of a widowed person, and they are pretty skeptical of "experts" (rightly so), they often warm up when learning they're not alone. No book will be helpful if it goes unread, but listening to the words of a writer who has lived through something similar can be like finding a sister or brother.
I'll also try to give each book some grief-specific categories — a great many grieving people, particularly in the first few months, don't have enough attention span to read anything longer than a page or two. Even the brainiest widow may find her taste leaning away from professional journals or Malcolm Gladwell's latest and toward People magazine. Hence, some titles are labeled "especially good for newly widowed people." I hope the other labels are self-explanatory.
List of reviews that follow: