Books & Blogs – My Support Group

A list of some of my favourite books & blogs. But first…

Support groups didn’t work for me during the different phases of my journey as a brain cancer carer and then young widow and single mum.

We did not have the time or the headspace to join a brain cancer support group in the first year after my husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer (GBM). We were busy looking after our newborn and our toddler and attending all the medical appointments. We were also disinclined to join because it was hard enough to find the emotional strength to support ourselves in facing my husband’s grim prognosis, let alone witnessing other patient’s heartbreaking disabilities and probably short survival times. We knew that there would be older patients joining a brain cancer support group who although facing similar challenges of living with the disease –  they were probably of different ages and in a different stage of life to us. They had had a chance to raise children and possibly grandchildren. The impact of this life changing diagnosis was  different to ours and we did not think we would find much empathy in our circumstances.

Once my second child was twelve months old and my husband’s illness had “stabilised” I started to find the inclination and some time to read. I slowly turned to books and the web for some insights and support. I looked for similar stories and experiences.

Books and blogs worked for me because I could tune into them and access them at any time of the day or night.

In books (particularly memoirs) and blogs I found raw and real thoughts that I could silently empathise with and hold onto.

Here are some of my favourite books and blogs:

  • The Complete Buddhism for Mothers (three books) by Sarah Napthali.  These books provided support and inspiration on how to enjoy being a mother despite all the challenges and traumatic circumstances that I was experiencing. They also reminded me to be compassionate and understanding towards myself as a mother.
  • Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories that Heal Rachel Naomi Remen shares stories of her interaction with cancer patients with insightful commentary and compassion. They touched on the mystery of life and death and gave me strength to continue caring as patiently as I could with presence and awareness.
  • Dream New Dreams – Reimagining my Life after Loss This memoir by Jai Pausch was the first memoir that I found with a story similar to mine. Jai’s husband dies from pancreatic cancer and she shares her story as a wife, care-giver, widow and single parent to three young children.
  • One Fit Widow Michelle Steinke’s vision is to “encourage everyone to ignite their fire for life after great loss.” She certainly does this and more. She posts inspiriing thoughts and wisdom daily on Facebook. Her blog shares her story of losing her husband suddenly when her children were very young and then her ensuing thoughts and emotions on being a young widow, bereft mother of young kids, remarrying and “Mending while Blending” families.
  • When It Rains and how to get there These two Australian memoirs by Maggie Mackellar provided me with insights into a fellow Aussie young widow and single mum’s experience of bereavement, grief and embracing life after loss. I loved reading about the Australian landscape and country as well the adventures in her heart and mind.
  • SECOND FIRSTS: Live, Laugh and Love Again – A memoir with a story similar to mine plus it also offers a five step life re-entry model. Christina Rasmussen’s husband died from colon cancer when her two daughters were quite young. The author also has a weekly blog  with insightful and comforting posts.
  • A Bird on My Shoulder – An Australian memoir set in Papua New Guinea and Australia. Lucy Palmer’s husband died from cancer of the blood.
  • Transcending Loss – Ashley Davis Bush – a  psychotherapist and grief counsellor offers stories, ideas and insights to understand the lifelong impact of grief and how make it meaningful.
  • Then & Now: Changed Perspectives of a Young Widow The author promises you can read this book in one hour and she is right! Wise insights by the author of her how feelings were when she lost her husband to a traumatic death and then how she feels six years later.
  • Healing After Loss  365 daily meditations for working through grief. Sometimes nice to flick to a page and date and see what is on the page.
  • Forever Loved  This Australian guide book for widows and widowers shares ideas on how to deal with your own grief as a widow and also the grief of your children.
  • Both Sides Now  A memoir by Nancy Sharp about losing her husband to rare type of brain cancer.
  • It’s Not Raining Daddy it’s happy  “A young widowed father opening up about living with loss”

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