Hey everyone! So it seems like grief has come up several times this week in conversations with others so I took it as a sign to do this post this week. As those of you who read & follow this blog or my social media know, I’ve been grieving the passing of my grandpa over a year & a half (it will be 2 years in December), which I’ve been pretty open about. It’s really not easy to think about but if you’re brain works like mine, it doesn’t stop the thoughts so its best to work toward finding a place of peace with it all and move with the knowledge that grief doesn’t have an end date so there is nothing to rush. Honestly, it’s made things easier for me when I remind myself or others of this fact.
One of the things I’ve learned is that grief is extremely messy. It morphs in shape, especially when you feel you have a good grasp on it, it changes and brings up something new (I got hit with this okie doke just recently)…and you know what, that’s okay because I found it triggers evolution, even if it is tiny. Here’s the thing though, it’s those thoughts of that person/those people, that insure that they continue to live on. We may not see them in person but we’ll always have those moments, even if they don’t feel like enough at the time, most days. If its not a living being grieved but a situation/opportunity/etc, we can eventually achieve a sense of acceptance with that.
For the longest time, I avoided books that had any sort of grief in them because I was so deep in mine that I couldn’t deal with anyone else’s, even a book characters. I couldn’t hold space for someone else because I was barely holding it for myself & no one was really able to comfort me because I’m not one for platitudes (I really, really am not). I was only able to hold myself together long enough to complete sessions with my students then would get wrapped tightly in that space of anger, hurt, and anything else that would fit with what I was feeling because like I had said, grief morphs and it’s one hell of a shape shifter… and everyone grieves differently so it has to be.
Now that I’m in a different place with my grief, I wouldn’t say better but processing it in a healthier way (shoutout to my Black Lady therapist), I’m able to read books that have a theme of grief in them without breaking or shutting down and can receive them better. So I wanted to share five Middle Grade & Young Adult books that had a theme of grief but I sincerely valued for the journeys their characters went on.
Theo Tan And The Fox Spirit by Jesse Q. Sutanto (MG): Part of what I loved about this book was the humor that was strung throughout and another part being that it’s dual perspective. Even in the moments where it could’ve felt heavy, the humor wasn’t far behind from either Theo, Kai or both. I really appreciated that about this book. I seriously laughed more than anything and I learned a few things too!
Ravenous Things by Derrick Chow (MG): This is another book that had some great humor but what I connected to most about this book was the anger that Reggie experienced. For a long time (really, to this day), I was so angry about my grandpa’s passing and other things surrounding it. I wholeheartedly understood how he could be so angry & why. I think any kid, grieving or not, would enjoy this book.
Private Label by Kelly Yang (YA): This book showed that grief isn’t just about death and that it could have layers. I appreciated that it showed one character grappling the effect chronic illness could have on family/caregivers while the other deals with familial expectations & their own desires. For me, these dual perspectives gave this book great balance so it didn’t sit too heavy on my Spirit.
Deep In Providence by Riss M. Neilson (YA): I won’t lie, this book drop kicked me in my feels several times. This is especially since it is multiple perspective & they all have one one thing in common while having a slew of other things to pile on to that. Add grief with a bit of magic and it takes a whole different shape. This was a great read but I would definitely advise anyone who wants to read have tissues ready!
The Black Girls Left Standing by Juliana Goodman (YA): This was another book that drop kicked me in my feels but I was distracted by the mission the main character was on and the trips down memory lane. Her grief was palpable throughout but she used it as a motivator rather than a hindrance, which I really appreciated. This book showed how grief can move us in different ways and didn’t feel as heavy as it could’ve been because it felt like being in a movie (to me).
There are so many ways to move with grief. Sometimes you stay still and other times you go full throttle, finding the in-between is the space to work towards. Reading characters that process grief in various ways was honestly a breath of fresh air. It felt healing in a way, because I didn’t feel as alone in my grief as I had previously. For me, reading has been really helpful in getting through tough times (fun fact, I read at my Grandpa’s viewing/funeral to keep from exploding), even if it means that the act is serving as an escape (as long a return to the real world happens).
So, if you are currently grieving, whether it’s fresh or years old, know that you are not alone, that there is someone holding space for you and that how you process it is valid. If you want to chat, then lets do so, either here in the comments or on social media. If you aren’t able to do so in an open forum, my DMs are open. You can find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can find me mostly in book centered clubs/rooms (primarily on Tuesdays and Fridays). Also please subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already because it makes me feel like someone listened to my processing when a hug isn’t possible (or I don’t feel like being touched cause that’s a thing for me too)! As usual, I’m sending you tons of bookish love & wish you happy reading!