grief

Women's Voices Writing Contest Winner

By Virginia Brackett
5
Rated by Helen H.
Jan 11, 2019

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Virginia Brackett has won the open category of our writing contest on the theme of WOMEN'S VOICES with "Mrs. Cross".


Virginia Brackett, Professor Emeritus of English, retired in 2016 from Park University where she directed the Honors Academy and received varied teaching and service awards, including Faculty Member of the Year, 2013 for Exceptional Services to Student Veterans. She served as a discussion facilitator for the 2017 NEH-funded initiative for veterans and their families, Planting the Oar. Brackett serves on the Kansas City

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders
5
Rated by Chris K.
Oct 24, 2018

Strange, fascinating, moving, disturbing, challenging, poignant, and human. Oh, so very human.


Lincoln in the Bardo is a book that delves deep into the human condition and the particular human penchant for storytelling. It presents a myriad cast of characters, each obsessed with telling his or her own story to others. And to living it out, over and over. They are stuck in their stories. Limited by them. Blinded by them. Stories of regret, sorrow, and unfinished lives. Unhappy stories.


For the characters are ghosts. Or spirits or phantoms or souls or what you will. Trapped in a limbo of

Only Child

By Rhiannon Navin
5
Rated by Colleen O.
Jun 3, 2018

Only Child is told by six-year-old Zach Taylor, whose world is turned upside down when a gunman enters his school and kills nineteen children, including his older brother. The author has an uncanny ability to enter the mind of a small child and describe events as only a small child is able. The voice of innocence and wonder, sadness and confusion jumps out of every page as Zach tries to comprehend the tragedy that has befallen his family and the actions and despair of the adults around him, including his parents. Through his words, the reader learns about the family dynamic, issues they have

Dec 6, 2017

​They Left Us Everything is an emotional journey through Plum Johnson's grief and search for self after losing her parents and childhood home. After almost twenty years spent caring for her aging parents, Alex and Virginia, Plum is both liberated and burdened by their deaths, which happen just a mere three years apart. Though Plum loses them, and the loss is enormous, she finds them again through their belongings as she clears out their house, her childhood home, and prepares to sell it.


In packing her parent's belongings, she discovers who they really were, and also what it means to be

The Reminders

By Val Emmich
3
Rated by Catherine G.
Nov 7, 2017

The Reminders is a story about loss, friendship, and recovery. It’s told in the alternating perspectives of Gavin, a man in his late thirties whose partner has recently died; and Joan, a 10 year old girl whose parents are old college friends of Gavin's.


Shortly after Gavin's partner dies he becomes overwhelmed by the reminders of their life together and throws their belongings into the yard and sets them on fire. A neighbor takes a video of it and it makes the news. Joan's parents happen to see this and insist that Gavin come and stay with them for a while.


Joan can recall every detail

The Babadook (DVD)

By Jennifer Kent
4
Rated by Sheida B.
Oct 27, 2017

I admit that I watched this movie because of Essie Davis: our very own Miss Fisher. And I found her performance quite memorable in The Girl with a Pearl Earring.


In The Babadook, she is unrecognizable as Amelia, a frazzled, soft-spoken and accommodating single mom. Amelia works part-time at an old folks’ home while raising her six-year-old son, Sam (played by Noah Wiseman). She was widowed on the same night Sam was born. And Sam has major behavioral issues.   


The first half of the movie is from Amelia’s point of view. She is unhappy and exhausted, mentally and physically. One night, Sam

May 5, 2017

In July of 2007, Catherine Tidd lost her husband, Brad, in an accident and suddenly found herself a 31-year-old widow with three small children. In Confessions of a Mediocre Widow, Tidd chronicles her experience with sudden widowhood and the journey of self-discovery her husband's loss prompted. 


The first half of the book focuses on the loss and immediate aftermath of Brad's death. Tidd discusses her last moments with Brad, the shock of his death, how her mind (like so many other widows) could only process the loss in pieces, the crowds of people in the days after, and her new relationship

Jan 21, 2017

Mia, "Rabbit", Hayes is a fighter and the very heart of her adoring family. But so is the cancer slowly taking over her body. Rabbit, however, refuses to acknowledge that her diagnosis has just rapidly plummeted or share the news with her 12 year old daughter, Juliet. Neither of them is ready to say goodbye. Rabbit's family is amazing, particularly her strong tough Irish "Mammy" Molly, who fights like a tiger for her daughter's life. Rabbit's father, Jack, and her siblings, Grace and Davey, are believably drawn characters. At times, the imminent loss of Rabbit threatens to push the family

Thin Ice

By Irene Hannon
3
Rated by Lisa J.
Feb 17, 2016

Christy Reed has had a difficult year. First she lost both of her parents in a car wreck, then just a few months later her sister Ginny dies in a house fire. Just as Christy is starting to pull herself out of her grieving and begins to accept that she is alone in the world, an envelope arrives in the mail. The envelope is addressed in Ginny’s handwriting and is postmarked just a few days ago. What is going on, and where is Ginny?


Brand new FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor receives Christy’s call about the letter and reopens the case. There are many questions that need answers. Is Ginny

Oct 24, 2015

"Once we're born, the only other certainty of life is that one day we and all of our loved ones die." - Beth L. Hewett


I haven't yet needed to write a eulogy, so I can't say what drew me to Hewett's Good Words. Something did, and I was instantly presented with a generous spirit. In The Guide to Using Good Words, Hewett suggests that, if the death of your loved one has been sudden, skip to chapter 3, where you'll find help in drafting a eulogy. She even invites readers to photocopy what they need. In the Introduction, she goes on to explain, "I have come to understand the eulogy's importance

How To Talk To a Widower

By Jonathan Tropper
4
Rated by Helen H.
Jan 17, 2014

Poor Doug Parker. At 29, he’s living a life he never anticipated. And it's great. Surprisingly great. Great, until his wife Haley goes off and dies, leaving him alone to deal with his 16-year-old stepson, Haley's beefed-up ex-husband, and a crushing sadness that prevents him from really living.


Tropper has a gift for realistically portraying emotion. In the titles I’ve sampled, Tropper’s main characters are stuck in a suspended state, whether it be grief, or shock, surprise, bewilderment, or all of the above. And there is always a caste of wonderful characters, mostly dysfunctional family

Wild

By Strayed, Cheryl
4
Rated by Anonymous (not verified)
Oct 7, 2013

This is a true account of an impulsive twenty-something woman who chooses to hike the grueling Pacific Coast Trail as a way to stop herself from self-destruction.  She has not had an easy life, being raised by a single mother in poverty, but she is in college and in love when her mother succumbs to cancer. Thus starts a spiral of addiction and out of control behavior that is shocking and life threatening. After spotting a book on hiking the Pacific Coast Trail, Cheryl decides to do it even though it is one of the most difficult trails possible and she has no experience, improper boots, and a

What Changes Everything

By Masha Hamilton
4
Rated by Helen H.
Oct 1, 2013

In contrast to books like Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds and Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead, where soldiers’ experiences are brought to life, What Changes Everything illuminates how war tears at those left at home. A refugee aid worker in Afghanistan is kidnapped, and his wife must decide on a course of action from across the world where no one agrees on how to proceed. How does a mother find solace when her young soldier son comes home a double amputee? A kind young man is killed at war and his mother and brother come unmoored after discrepancies behind his purple heart come to light. Almost like

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

0
Rated by Elizabeth L.
May 10, 2013

Deraniyagala, a Sri Lankan by birth and a Londoner for college and beyond, was vacationing with her parents, her husband, and her two small children in Sri Lanka for Christmas in 2004, as was their family tradition. They were staying in a hotel not too far from the water. The day after Christmas, she looked out the window and noticed that the water seemed a little closer than usual. She called for her husband to come look – and then. AND THEN. Deraniyagala’s husband, parents and two boys were killed in the Tsunami that devastated the country but somehow she survived. This is the opening

Mar 29, 2013

Psychologist Chris Kelvin, played by George Clooney, arrives on a spaceship near the planet Solaris to investigate why the crew is suffering. Kelvin has a vivid dream of his deceased wife his first night on the ship and then discovers her lying next to him after wakening. Later that morning, Kelvin realizes that others also have “visitors” and that Solaris is affecting the crew almost like an afterlife in which the living can be reunited with the dead. Director Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris is a moving investigation into how we might handle longing and loss when offered the opportunity to

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

0
Rated by Jen L.M.
Mar 10, 2013

Summerland takes place on Nantucket beginning on graduation day.  Four high school juniors—twins, Penny and Hobby; Jake, Penny’s boyfriend, and longtime friend Demeter—have been celebrating the graduation of their classmates.  And yes, included in the celebration was underage drinking.  As they leave the party, Penny is driving Jake’s jeep as she is the only one that has not been drinking, but never-the-less the four are involved in a single-car wreck leaving Penny dead and her brother seriously injured.  The ultimate question is who said what to set Penny off and cause the wreck, and then to

Blue Nights

By Joan Didion
4
Rated by Michelle H.
Nov 5, 2012

In her previous memoir, A Year of Magical Thinking, author Joan Didion writes about the death of her husband. More recently in Blue Nights she writes about the death of her daughter, Quintana Roo. The recent memoir differs from the previous in that the tone is lower, the story more tragic. When Didion mentions (only once) that her daughter was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and that she drank too much, I appreciated the information but was glad the author left alone what she could not speak of and handed indirectly those things she had the courage to suggest. Quintana Roo might

Feb 17, 2012

It’s Passover and Laurel, a junior in high school, her little brother and parents celebrate at their neighbor’s home.  Following the meal everyone decides to go to the ice cream shop for dessert.  Laurel and David, the neighbor’s son, both decide to forego the ice cream—Laurel to do homework and David to do whatever it is David does these days.  When they were little Laurel and David were good friends; however, upon growing up and entering high school they had grown apart.  The decision to skip dessert, after a painful family dinner, changed both of their lives forever.

Without Laurel and

Mar 3, 2011


What a sweet, heavy, sorrowful story. Elizabeth McCraken's baby dies in the ninth month of pregnancy and this is her story rolled out backwards for her readers, from the opening pages when she shares that her precious son dies and a second child is born alive and healthy. Knowing from the start that Elizabeth and her husband will have this second child does nothing to ease the reader through the horror and savage grief of that dreadful day when their child is stillborn. Elizabeth's words "This is the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending," says it all.

Whiter Than Snow

0
Rated by Judy R.
Sep 1, 2010

whiter-than-snow.jpgWhiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas isn’t one of her best, but I still enjoyed it. I’m game for most books that take place in the early 1900’s, in the mountains of Colorado. Dallas knows that time and place well (Prayers For Sale). Whiter Than Snow is a story of love, tragedy, forgiveness, despair, and resilience.

At 4:10 P.M. on April 20, 1920 something triggers an avalanche above the small mining town of Swandyke, Colorado, at the very moment children are walking home from school. Nine of those kids are swept up in the thundering snow. Four children survive. As Dallas introduces us to the

Jun 2, 2010

What do you say about a book that has been lauded by professional reviewers as a “taut, clear-eyed memoir” with a “sheer and highly efficient writing style” and is “elegant [in its] rendition of the stages [of grief]”?

All I can say is bleech. I didn’t come close to shedding a tear while reading this book and I weep during Hallmark commercials. I don’t understand how a book about the sudden loss of a loving husband after returning from the ICU where a daughter hangs by a thread can leave me void of emotion. But Didion has done it here. It’s inexplicable.

Jun 2, 2010

Life at These Speeds by Jeremy JacksonKevin is an 8th grader at a small rural school and the star of the track team. The school is so small that the whole 8th grade class is on the track team except for two students. Kevin hates track but he’s good at it and as all his friends are on the track team he goes along for the ride. One cold spring day the team is at an away meet, where Kevin lets a team mate run for him in his best event. That night a new state record is set in the 800 meter run by “Kevin Schuler”. Following the meet Kevin rides home with his parents while the rest of the team, including his girlfriend, Ellie

Aug 10, 2009

When Terry and Laura Sheldon lose their twin daughters in a flood, understandably, it takes them a few years to adjust to their seemingly empty life. Upon deciding to become foster parents they anxiously await the arrival of whom they envision to be a sweet, blonde-ringleted child who might resemble their own precious girls. They are charged, however, with Alfred, an introverted young black child who is as dismayed at his own presence in rural Vermont as the rural Vermontians are with him.

Every Last Cuckoo

By Kate Maloy
4
Rated by Helen H.
Jul 18, 2009

According to Wikipedia, a “coming of age” story is one which details a young person's transition from adolescence to adulthood. This describes Every Last Cuckoo, except Sarah Lucas’ transition is one from a comfortable coupled existence as a mature woman to one in which she must make her own way. At seventy-five, Sarah’s husband of fifty years has died unexpectedly leaving Sarah and their two dogs alone in their rural Vermont home. After months of grieving and reminiscing about both good times and bad, Sarah is forced out of her depression when she takes in her troubled grand-daughter, Lottie