Reading Resources


Iits ok if you're not okt’s OK That You’re Not OK

By: Megan Devine

When a painful loss upends your world, here is the first thing to know: there is nothing wrong with grief. “Grief is simply love in its most wild and painful form,” says Megan Devine. “It is a natural and sane response to loss.”

So, why does our culture treat grief like a disease to be cured as quickly as possible?
This book offers a different approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides―as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner―Megan writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, “happy” life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it. She addresses why well-meaning advice, therapy, and spiritual wisdom so often end up making it harder for people in grief, and offers a unique guide through an experience we all must face―in our personal lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the wider world.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a book for grieving people, those who love them, and all those seeking to love themselves―and each other―better.

UnbrokenUnbroken: The Trauma Response is Never Wrong

By: MaryCatherine McDonald, PhD

A profound new approach to healing trauma, grounded in a radical reframing of how we understand this nearly universal experience.
For centuries, we’ve been taught that being traumatized means we are somehow broken―and that trauma only happens to people who are too fragile or flawed to deal with hardship. But as a researcher, teacher, and survivor, Dr. MaryCatherine McDonald has learned that the only thing broken is our society’s understanding of trauma. “The body’s trauma response is designed to save our lives―and it does,” she says. “It’s not a sign of weakness, but of our function, strength, and amazing resilience.”

This book overturns the misconceptions about trauma with the latest evidence from neuroscience and psychology―and shares tested practices and tools to help you work with your body’s coping mechanisms. Dr McDonald shows through case studies and understandable explanations of how the brain processes overwhelming emotional experience, how the trauma response itself reveals the path to healing.

For anyone who has gone through trauma or wants to help others who are struggling, this is an empowering resource for finding our way home to our bodies, rebuilding our relationships, and returning to full engagement with life.

Still Life: A Memoir

By: Dr. Jeff Sutherland

Father, husband, athlete, medical doctor, Jeff Sutherland had built a perfect life for himself and his family…then he noticed that he was losing strength in his left arm. He visited a specialist and from that appointment, he writes, “deep personal loss for some unknown reason wrapped its tentacles around me and my family.” Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), he lost his abilities to walk and speak within two years and, confined to a wheelchair, was forced to retire from his life’s work as a physician at forty-three. Not long after, he was locked in his own inanimate body, unable to eat, drink, or breathe without assistance. His meals were delivered through a feeding tube, and a ventilator controlled his lungs through an opening in his throat. The only parts of his body he was able to move voluntarily were his eyes.

Despite these extreme limitations, Sutherland made peace with his disease and, surrounded by his loving family, found happiness again – only to suffer another soul-shattering loss. His eldest son, Zachary, a lifeguard, drowned along with his girlfriend Kaya in a freak kayaking accident in the river behind the family home. “Despite everything I lost through ALS,” he says, Zach & Kaya’s deaths were worse. Yet again, through a long process of suffering and healing, Sutherland was able to accept his loss and find a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in his constricted life.

His story, laboriously written on a computerized device that tracks his eye movements on a visual keyboard, is a testament to both the human will’s ability to overcome unspeakable tragedy, and the power of familial love to heal incomprehensible pain. “When a negative change occurs,” writes Sutherland, “we have to choose how we will face it. We can be paralyzed with fear or we can make the choice to integrate it into our lives, make peace with it, and eventually grow from it. With any change, good or bad, personal growth is the ideal outcome. It is my belief that this our soul’s mission on earth.”

Atlas of the Heart

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience

By: Brene Brown

Atlas of the Heart takes us on a journey through eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. It maps the necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection,  giving us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances—a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.  Brene Brown shows us how accurately naming an experience doesn’t give the experience more power—it gives us the power of understanding, meaning, and choice.

resilient grievingResilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss That Changes Everything

By: Lucy Hone

Lucy Hone, a researcher in positive psychology and resilience was faced with her own inescapable sorrow in 2014 when her 12-year-old daughter Abi, her daughter’s best friend and her own close friend were killed in a car accident. She was uniquely positioned to apply her intellectual knowledge to her own immense loss and offers strategies to proactively move through grief and eventually embrace life again.

The research and Lucy’s story support the human capacity for resilient grieving, our innate ability to respond to traumatic loss by finding ways to grow – by becoming more engaged with our lives and discovering new, profound meaning.

This book aims to help readers relearn their world, to navigate the grieving process without hiding from difficult feelings or denying the reality, or significance, of a loss that changes everything.

option bOption B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy

By: Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant

Sheryl Sandberg shares her story of the sudden loss of her husband, Adam Grant adds research findings and together they offer practical advice to help build strength for life’s challenges.

* A copy of this book has been donated to Halton Hills Public Library in memory of Zach and Kaya

just one thingJust One Thing

By: Rick Hanson              

Simple practices grounded in brain science, positive psychology and Buddhist teachings that give a very practical “how” to beginning to move forward with life after loss.

* A copy of this book has been donated to Halton Hills Public Library in memory of Zach and Kaya

resilientResilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness

By: Rick Hanson              

True resilience is about much more than simply surviving the worst day of your life.  It’s about thriving every day of your life.  This book will teach you how to grow strengths inside yourself – like grit, gratitude and compassion – for lasting well-being in a changing world.

* A copy of this book has been donated to Halton Hills Public Library in memory of Zach and Kaya

The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach us about Living Fully

By: Frank Ostasteski

In this book, the founder of the Zen Hospice Project offers valuable insights gained from witnessing many people face their final passage that guide us toward appreciating life’s preciousness.  These are relatable for anyone navigating a life transition, coping with loss, serious illness or a personal crisis. Weaving together pragmatic tools, real life stories and ancient wisdom, Frank helps us discover how an awareness of death can be a valuable companion on the road to living well, forging a rich and meaningful life free of regret.

* A copy of this book has been donated to Halton Hills Public Library in memory of Zach and Kaya

the five ways we grieveThe Five Ways We Grieve: Finding Your Personal Path to Healing after the Loss of a Loved One

By: Susan A. Berger

This book debunks the common myth of the stages of grief and offers five identity types that represent different ways of creating meaning from the loss of a loved one in an effort to redefine purpose in life after loss.

man's search for meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning

By: Viktor Frankl

The classic chronicle of Frankl’s experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate and his method of surviving that adversity by identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about.

after thisAfter This

By: Claire Bidwell Smith

A grief counsellor explores the question she confronts daily with her clients: what happens after we die?  She explores grief and the afterlife from multiple perspectives and shares her own personal journey.

life on PurposeLife On Purpose

By: Viktor J. Strecher

Life on Purpose explores the incredible connection between purposeful living and the latest scientific evidence on quality of life and longevity. Dr. Vic Strecher reveals the elements necessary for a purposeful life and how to acquire them, and outlines an elegant strategy for improving energy, willpower, and long-term happiness, and well-being. He integrates these core themes into his own personal story—how the tragic loss of his daughter led him to reconsider his own life—and how a deeper understanding of purposeful living helped him not only survive, but thrive.

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One

By: Brook Noel & Pamela D Blair PhD

This classic guide offers comfort and guidance for those facing the challenges of sudden death,  It discusses the first few weeks, the physical effects of grief, societal issues as well as circumstances such as suicide, child loss and homicide.  It explores the unique experience of unexpected death and offers the authors’ perspective from their own experience as well as intimate stories of others.

Maybe you should talk to someone

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

By: Lori Gottleib

Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients navigate their life crises. The she experiences one of her own and finds herself on the other side of the therapeutic relationship.

As she continues to counsel her patients, she comes to discover that the underlying issues that give rise to their struggles also give rise to her own.

With startling wisdom and humour, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.

Further Reading About Mediumship:

How To Become a Medium: A Step-By-Step Guide to Connecting With the Other Side

By: Mary Anne Kennedy

How to Become a Medium is based on the understanding that, as spiritual beings, we all possess the innate ability to communicate with those on the other side, and it provides practical guidance that helps readers understand the soul journey, establish a spiritual practice and develop the skills to communicate with our loved ones who have passed. Mary-Anne shares her personal experiences with grief, fear, and anxiety, and talks about how instrumental learning to meditate and learning to speak with spirit were in her own healing. Through examples of her own mediumship practice, she also enlightens readers with messages from the other side about love, forgiveness, healing, and moving on with our lives here in the physical world.

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