This week, in The Guardian, Helen Humphreys provides a diverse selection of books about grief. Her list includes poetry, fiction, and even music, and underscores the multiple ways in which people grieve and confront loss. I am reminded of just how far I have to go when it comes to The Grief Project, how many texts there are to explore. Here is the list:
1. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
2. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
3. Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert
4. Donal Og by Anonymous, translated by Lady Augusta Gregory
5. Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
6. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
7. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
8. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir
10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Of the ten works chosen by Humphreys, I've only read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and it was a novel that resonated with me when I read it just a few months after my father's death. I remember connecting to the story because of Victor Frankenstein's obsession with resurrecting the dead, an obsession that also lived inside of me, especially at a time when I had intense dreams of my father being alive again. Of course, I also related to the monster and the isolation he felt from other people. My grief formed a wall between me and the world, one that remains intact to this day. I felt different, angry, alone, abandoned. Like the monster, I lost a father and did not know how to live without him.
In the aftermath of loss, we find a way to fill the absence left by those we love. More than anything, literature has helped me cope with my grief and anguish. Humphreys's list is an important addition to my ongoing collection of grief texts that I hope to read.