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Monday, March 15, 2010

"And who, who shall I say is calling?"

"Who By Fire," Leonard Cohen.

I know many people who are good at many things, yet I know of no one who is good at grieving. We all manage bereavement in our own way, grasping at shadows, trying to make sense of what can seem senseless. We may turn to raw human emotion, tears and long conversations, or find comfort in silence and solitude. We may turn to religion, philosophy, science or simply distract ourselves with simple earthly pleasures, eager to erase the longing or the hurt. When we lost our colleague Judy Reiss a few weeks ago, someone pointed out the unique difficulty that comes when you lose a coworker, that you cannot escape the grief by chugging through your daily work routine because work is where the loss lives. The year is still young and yet I've already been watching people all around me work through grief: here at the Library, when we lost Judy so quickly after the deaths of two other coworkers in the last 2 years; in the life of a good friend who donated bone marrow to her 43 year old brother only to see him die from a completely unexpected MRSA infection a few years later; a woman at my church who lost her husband of 46 years after tending to him for 11 years after a series of strokes.

Poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen wrote the song "Who By Fire," a litany of sorts, describing the many ways death comes to us. 
Who by fire? Who by water? Who in the sunshine? Who in the nighttime? Who by high ordeal? Who by common trial? Who in your merry, merry month of May? Who by very slow decay?
My friend whose brother just passed away was grateful that his death seemed peaceful and freed him from physical illness. Under other circumstances, death can be gut-wrenching, heart-breaking and nearly impossible to comprehend. If you or someone you know is having a difficult time dealing with grief and bereavement, the Library has a large assortment of books on the topic, coming from many different perspectives. These writings may be of comfort in and of themselves, or may help generate much-needed conversation, meditation, healing, and a little light at the end of the tunnel. Try the links below and see if you find something that speaks to you. No one is good at grieving but those who need extra help to press on through difficult times may find solace and inspiration right here at the Library.

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