Posted in DEATH

Novels to overcome grief

Four NOVELS and one POEM to overcome

the GRIEF following the DEATH of a loved person


In numerous novels, the main character is facing the loss of a beloved parent or friend. Sharing the grief of the character might help the reader to feel less depressed or alone while dealing with his own mourning.

I recommend you the following five literary works as bereavement support :


The novel of Nina Sankovitch “TOLSTOY and the PURPLE CHAIR – My Year of Magical Reading » (Harper, 2011)

 The author is facing the death of her beloved sister. She wants to overcome her grief by reading a book a day during one year. This is the story of her reading help or bibliotherapy. If you want to know more about this novel, click here.

The novel of Anna McPartlin “The last days of Rabbit Hayes” (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

 A whole family is facing the last days of Mia, nicknamed Rabbit, who is a daughter, a mother, a sister and a friend  and who is going to die because of a generalized cancer. The feelings of each close character will be described chapter after chapter in this beautiful novel. If you want to know more about this novel, click here.

The novel of Valérie Seguin “Les trois jours et demi après la mort de mon père” (Les Arènes, 2015)

 It is a French novel, but I could not omit to speak about this wonderful book which personally helped me when I was facing the death of my own father. The author is telling the story of her surprising experience during the days which followed the death of her father. In case you understand French, you may click here to see more about this novel.

A poem by William Blake

mentioned here which I read at the burial of my beloved father. The poem reveals a hopeful metaphor for death stating that dead people are crossing a stretch of water from one side to the other, and that they are meeting up lost persons when arriving at the other side.

Should you wish to know more about this English poet, please click here to get biographical information about him.


A novel of Natasha Solomons “The House at Tyneford” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011)

is a great novel about the life of a young Jewish girl during Second World War who must escape her country (Austria) and flee to England where she works as a domestic. She has to overcome separation with her loved ones several times in her life, but there is always a moment where she has to start again and search for happiness despite bad fate.


Other ideas of novels as grief support

In their famous literary work “The Novel Curepublished in 2013 by Canongate Books Ltd. the authors Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin propose a novel for each among the five stages identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the mourning process : denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.



And what about the novels which have helped you to overcome grief following the death of a loved one ?

Please let us know and I will add your comments after this article.






“The last days of Rabbit Hayes”

Anna McPartlin

(St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

The cover is rather joyful to address a very dark topic, that of mourning, incurable suffering and impending separation from a loved one.

The author, Anna McPartlin is a former Irish humorist turned novelist.

It is the story of the last nine days of Mia, nicknamed Rabbit, forty-year-old and terminally ill with generalized cancer. She knows she is going to die, and her relatives and friends also sense it : her mother, her father, her 12-year-old daughter Juliet, whom she raised alone, her older sister and her brother who has come back from America, as well as her best friend Marjorie. Everyone manages in one’s own way this terrible ordeal. The chapters are divided between the thoughts and reminiscences of each other. In this way memories and experiences flow to reflect all the emotional ties that have woven the web of Rabbit Hayes’ destiny.

This reading is extremely touching because

  • on the one hand, it is very realistic: the physical suffering of Rabbit is not concealed and the clumsily human attitudes of relatives are not mitigated. The author wants to describe with a touching lucidity the behavior of people like you and me who find themselves one day in the face of the impending death of their daughter, mother, sister, aunt or friend.
  • on the other hand, this story is filled with humor and love, which makes it terribly endearing. The soaked characters, the crooks and the gaffes of each other punctuate the events and above all, the love between these people illuminates the tragedy and brings a new comforting perspective.

It is a novel beneficial for people affected by grief, cancer at the ultimate stage, separation with a loved one. Of course, the sufferings from a similar experience may come back while reading this story, but this resurgence will occur as a salutary catharsis.

It is also necessary to underline the comprehensive character of this story since the various perspectives in the face of the apprehension of the impending death does not only concern the parents and friends of Rabbit, but Rabbit herself, who gives us her own point of  view with regard to her situation on the verge of death.

In conclusion I add here below an interview of the author about her novel :


Posted in DEATH

A poem about DEATH and HOPE

“What is dying?
I am standing in the sea shore,
a ship sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty
and I stand watching her
till at last she fades
on the horizon
and someone at my side says,
‘She is gone.’
Gone! Where?
Gone from my sight–that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars
as she was when I saw her,
and just as able to bear her load of living
freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
not in her;
and just at the moment when someone at my side says,
‘she is gone’
there are others who are watching her coming,
and others take up a glad shout–
‘There she comes!’ – and that is dying.”


The author of this poem is probably William Blake although some doubts remain as to the autorship of these words.

Nevertheless it is a poem which is often recited during a funeral…