Monday, December 22, 2014

Books to Soothe the Soul

By Pamela

In a week or so, Kim will run her annual post on the best books we've read this year, with each of us weighing in. For now, I want to share a few I've read this year that have helped me deal with some difficult events.

The day before Thanksgiving 2013, I lost my mom to a chronic lung condition. Then in March, our dear friends and neighbor lost their only daughter to the careless actions of a drunk driver. This year has felt as though an avalanche of grief has descended on us as we cope with losing Mom and Kasey's senseless death.

While I tend to be primarily a lover of good fiction and the occasional memoir, I found myself drawn to a some titles that helped me through some sad times. None of us are immune to tragedy and loving widely only expands our potential for losing those close to us. I did find the three books below to be particularly helpful to me this year. Maybe you will, too.

Rare Bird--for understanding how it feels to lose a child

From the publisher: On an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions: How could God let this happen? Can we ever be happy again? They each fall into the abyss of grief in different ways. And in the days and months to come, they each find their faltering way toward peace.

In Rare Bird, Anna Whiston-Donaldson unfolds a mother's story of loss that leads, in time, to enduring hope. With this unforgettable account of a family's love and longing, Anna will draw you deeper into a divine goodness that keeps us—beyond all earthly circumstances—safe.

Being Mortal--for realizing how broken is our approach to end-of-life care

From the publisher: In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

The 13th Gift--for appreciating how grace can mend a broken family

From the publisher: After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children--especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their "True Friends." As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

If you know someone who's had a difficult season, it's never too late to offer a book that might soothe his or her soul. I highly recommend all three of these titles.

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