Dying Matters week

dying matters logoEvery year in May, Dying Matters host an Awareness Week, which places the importance of talking about dying, death and bereavement firmly on the national agenda. In 2018, the week will run from 14th to the 20th of May and will be asking “What Can You Do… in your community?” To find out more about the week and to find events near you have a look at the Dying Matters website.

Books can be a huge help in many ways when talking about death and bereavement. They can provide practical help such as family law to help with wills and probate, to poetry books to help you choose the right poem for a funeral. We have all these and more in our libraries to help you.

Talking about death can be tricky, especially to children, and books are a good way to help with this. Below is a review from one of our librarians on a book that helped her through a very difficult time in her life.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, reviewed by Sam.

a monster callsI have never been so scared to read a book in all my life than I have this one.
Last year I watched the film adaption of this book and I cried like a baby, then something unexpected happened, my mum was diagnosed with cancer and suddenly I was in the same shoes as Conor the young boy who this story is based around. Unlike Conor I only had a week before my mum sadly passed away. In the book Conor’s mother seems to have been suffering with cancer for a while going through various trials and treatments. I suppose in a way I was lucky that I didn’t have to suffer the horrible feeling Conor does of waiting for his mother to pass and guilt that Conor does which in turn causes him to summon the monster.

I felt that the use of the monster and his stories was a fantastic way to portray how a child rebels against life and it’s unfairness. The monster visits Conor three times and tells him three stories. These are very misleading as both the reader and Conor believe that the good person will always win and that justice will be done. However the monster shows him that unfortunately that isn’t always how the world works. During the monster’s visits Conor seems to have “black outs” where damage is done and it’s like a small child who has done something bad and blames their imaginary friend, “The monster did it”. I thought that this was a good way of showing how even though he is a teenager he is still a child.

During the book the adults in Conor’s life all have different ways in which they try to deal with the situation. His teachers give him special treatment – which leads to him being bullied by a gang of boys in his class. His grandmother is very hard but underneath she is caring and believes that Conor should be told the truth about what is happening. His parents both seem to want to hide some of the harsh facts with regards to his mother’s treatment. While reading this I agreed with the views of his grandmother as a lot of Conor’s frustration with the situation is that both his parents keep telling him everything is going to be fine and don’t worry about it but he knows that that’s not true. This causes him to bury what he knows to be true and pretend that everything is fine. I felt this way myself even though I was 25 at the time of my mum being in hospital with cancer, because I was my mum’s youngest I have always been somewhat put in a bubble whenever difficult things happen. You notice certain looks between people, things get said that you weren’t aware of and even though I am an adult people would rely on my older sister but not myself which was extremely frustrating. I felt that feeling throughout reading this book – the total and utter feeling of helplessness, that nothing you can do will help.

Another of the feelings that I felt throughout this book was isolation and loneliness. Despite his teachers offering to be there for support, his dad who comes back from America and him having to live with his grandmother, Conor spends most of his time alone or with the monster. Even in school surrounded by his classmates, he still feels alone. His main friend Lily has been cut off from him because despite them being close from their mothers’ friendship because she was told what was happening to his mum and told everyone at school. This caused what the kind of situation it always causes, that awkwardness, when people don’t know what to say so they don’t talk to you at all. The only “normal” contact Conor has and I say that in the loosest form possible is when Harry the teacher’s pet and his cronies bully him. Conor puts up with this because they are speaking to him and not treating him like he isn’t there. Eventually Conor uses the monster’s help when Harry decides that the worst thing for Conor would be treat him as if he were invisible.

I felt this book was a great way for people who may know someone who is going through this situation to try and understand what they are going through and how they may be feeling. It also helps identify the stigmas that cancer brings that no one wants to talk about and shows that not talking about it can actually make it worse in the long run. For me the best way if you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation or know someone who has is to talk to them and ask them how they are feeling. Do something fun or have a cup of tea, treat them how you normally would and listen if they want to talk. That is what got me through and even a year later I’m still getting over the loss of my mum. It’s not something you ever lose but you also need to think about yourself. I think the book reflects this as Conor realises that those you love never really leave you, they are always with you in your memories. 

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Where there are books there is hope

dying matters logoWe are happy to support the Dying Matters campaign as we realise that death is an important subject even if it is not easy to talk about. Their mission is to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. This book list is designed to help stimulate discussion and is only a sample of what is available in Leeds Libraries. The aim is to help people not only celebrate living but be empowered and informed as they face the end of life .

These books offer an opportunity to engage in this taboo subject, to learn and find solace in other people’s experiences as well as helping to find the answers to questions you never dared ask lastly ,to share ones last wishes with friends and family.

A Death Café will be running bi-monthly at The Reginald Centre Community Hub, Chapeltown in partnership with Xina Broderick, a local funeral Director, starting on Saturday 21st of January. Further details can be found here.

angie-death-mattersDeath Matters By Sally Petch

An unusual new book that encourages us to change how we think about dying. Throughout the book, author Sally Petch asks us to start talking about and planning our own death – so that we can reach a place of acceptance and lessen our fear of an event which is ultimately inevitable. “Death Matters is an easy to read book. Sally Petch has performed us a great service in helping us come to terms with the idea of death.” Satish Kumar, Editor-in-chief, Resurgence Magazine

angie-the-welcome-visitorThe Welcome Visitor by John Humphrys

Death is a subject modern society shies away from. But if we regard death as a failure in our desire to prolong life, can we ever arrive at a humane approach to those whose lives have lost meaning? Here, John Humphrys and his co-author Dr Sarah Jarvis take a wider look at how our attitudes to death have changed as doctors have learned how to prolong life beyond anything that could have been imagined only a few generations ago, and confront one of the great challenges facing the western world today. There are no easy answers but the first step must surely be to accept that death can be as welcome as it is inevitable.

angie-being-mortalBeing mortal: illness, medicine and what matters in the end by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande examines his experiences as a surgeon, as he confronts the realities of ageing and dying in his patients and in his family, as well as the limits of what he can do. He emerges with a story that explores a range of questions.

angie-deaths-summer-coatDeath’s summer coat: what the history of death and dying can tell us about life and living by Brandy Shillace

Consideration of death and dying is back in the public forum. People are sipping tea at Death Cafes. Poses the question how can we approach death in a culture dead set against talking about mortality? Written with humour and humanity

angie-mums-listMum’s List by St John Greene

On her deathbed, Kate Greene’s only concern was for her two little boys, Reef and Finn, and her loving husband, Singe. She knew she’d be leaving them behind very soon. The couple talked and cried together as she wrote her thoughts and wishes down, trying to help the man she loved create the best life for their boys after she was gone

How to have a good death: Foreword By Esther Ranzen who shares her personal experience of losing her late husband Desmond Wilcox

Find out how to deal with death, from understanding the process of dying to communicating with hospital staff and working through difficult stages of bereavement. A book that helps you prepare and plan for a good death, with informed choices and practical advice.

angie-wills-and-probateWills and Probate by David Bunn

This two-in-one guide to making a will and obtaining probate for the estate of someone who has died could help readers save thousands of pounds on legal fees. The guide covers the whole of the U.K.

angie-good-funeral-guideThe Good Funeral Guide by Charles Cowling

A good death contributes to a good life, so we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to deal with a reality most of us don’t want to face. Find out how to deal with death, from understanding the process of dying to communicating with hospital staff and working through the difficult stages of bereavement

angie-poems-for-funeralsPoems and readings for funerals and memorials Edited by Julia Watson

This book gathers together many of the treasured and poignant poems, readings, quotations and religious extracts that both celebrate life and express grief and sorrow about death,

angie-smoke-gets-inSmoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Doughty – a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre – took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased. This book tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes

angie-standing-on-myStanding on my brother’s shoulders: Making peace with grief and suicide by Tara J. Lal

Following the death of their mother during childhood Tara and her older brother Adam developed a deep, caring bond, but Adam struggled silently with growing anxiety and depression. Four years after their mother’s death, he committed suicide, throwing himself from his study window at Oxford University. Grief and insecurity threatened to engulf Tara, but eventually she found, within her brother’s Grief and insecurity threatened to engulf Tara, but eventually she found, within her brother’s diaries, her reason to live.

angie-what-does-dead-meanWhat does dead mean? a book for young children to help explain death and dying by Caroline Jay

This is an illustrated book that guides children gently through the ‘big’ questions they often ask about death and dying. Suitable for children aged 4+. This is an ideal book for parents and carers to read with their children, as well as teachers, therapists and counsellors working with young children.

Always and Forever by Debi Gliori

When Fox dies the rest of his family are absolutely distraught. How will Mole, Otter and Hare go on without their beloved friend? But, months later, Squirrel reminds them all of how funny Fox used to be, and they realise that Fox is still there in their hearts and memories.

angie-are-you-sadAre You Sad, Little Bear? by Rachel Rivett and Tina MacNaughton

A book about learning to say goodbye. This charmingly illustrated picture book will help young children in times of bereavement, loss or change, gently exploring the reasons for saying goodbye and giving reassurance that goodbye doesn’t mean the end of things.

angie-grandads-islandGrandad’s Island by Benji Davies

After the phenomenal success of The Storm Whale and On Sudden Hill, this new book by Benji Davies deals with the emotional topic of losing a grandparent. Subtly told, this beautifully illustrated book tackles a difficult subject with great sensitivity and depth.

angie-fault-in-our-starsThe fault in our stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

angie-tuesdays-with-morrieTuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Alborn

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through life. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Mitch Albom rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying of motor neurone disease – MItch visited Morrie in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final ‘class’: lessons in how to live.

Precious Lives by Margaret Forster

Margaret Forster’s most personal biography yet. It takes up the intertwining story of her gritty, 96 year old northern father, Arthur with that of her sister-in-law, Marion, who dies of Cancer. Margaret Forster’s father was not a man to answer questions about life and death, so she attempts to answer them for herself. As Forster looks back at Arthur’s life an indomitable man, she evokes incidents from her childhood, his working life and stubborn old age, trying to make sense of their largely unspoken relationship and of his tenacious hold on life, and on his family. Arthur and Marion’s lives were ordinary, but, when faced with death become precious.

Dying Matters Week 9th -15th May 2016

Dying matters is a national campaign to encourage people to talk about death, dying, end of life plans including funeral wishes and organ donation.

Talking about death and dying won’t make it happen any sooner, but not talking about it won’t make it go away. To help people start the big conversation we’ve suggested some titles, but we have many more in stock.

Having the big conversation can help you to live well and make the most of life until the very end.

Life after bereavementThe essential guide to life after bereavement: beyond tomorrow

by Judy Carole Kauffman

The period following the death of a loved one can be a time of great turmoil. This book acts as a helpful and supportive road map through the initial stages

Coping with your partners deathCoping with your partner’s death: your bereavement guide by Geoff Billings

During the very difficult and stressful period following your partner’s death, you are left to face a great many changes and some very difficult times alone or with little help. But life can be rebuilt, and this practical, sympathetic guide shows how.

Goodbye GrandmaGoodbye Grandma: helping young children cope with bereavement by Melanie Walsh

When a little boy is told that his grandma has died, he isn’t really sure what death means. In this reassuring lift-the-flap book with bold and colourful illustrations, he asks his mum important questions about death and bereavement. Why do people have to die? What happens to them once they are dead? What can he do to remember his grandma?

 

 

 

 

 

 

dealing with deathDealing with death, funerals, wills and bereavement: what to do when someone dies: a practical guide by Roger Jones

This is a reference guide to what to do when someone dies. The text allows the reader to handle what is already a difficult process, make decisions with greater confidence and clarity, and be prepared for the practicalities surrounding a loss

nations favourite poems remembranceThe nation’s favourite poems of remembrance

In this 10th collection in the ‘Nation’s Favourite’ series over 100 poems by Britain’s best poets are brought together on the theme of remembrance to offer solace, scope for reflection and inspiration

The lovely bonesThe lovely bones: a novel by Alice Sebold

A huge bestseller in America, this is a novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting. 14-year-old Susie Salmon, now dead, looks down on her family and friends from heaven.

PS I love youPS, I love you by Cecelia Ahern

Holly and Gerry have a running joke – that she’d never cope without him. When Gerry dies of a brain tumour, Holly’s life falls apart. She cannot see how to go on. But then she receives a package from Gerry – a letter, with a pile of envelopes. Each envelope contains ‘to do’ lists for each month.

we need to talk about griefWe need to talk about grief: how to be a friend to the one who’s left behind by Annie Broadbent

When Annie Broadbent was just 25 her mum died of cancer. One of the hardest, and least expected, aspects of the whole experience was the way in which support from friends and family (verbal, practical and emotional) was so often varied and inadequate. We don’t have a language to help people suffering from grief and we often shy away from discussing death altogether. Frustrated with seeing family and friends paralysed by their fear of death, and their reluctance to talk about it, Annie decided to share her own experience of grief and the stories of others as a way to help shed some light on the darkest moments in life.

60 postcards60 postcards: the inspirational story of a young woman’s journey to celebrate her mother, one postcard at a time by Rachael Chadwick

The heartfelt and uplifting story of how a project to scatter 60 postcards in memory of her mother helped a young girl come to terms with her loss.

CleoCleo: how a small black cat helped heal a family by Helen Brown

‘Cleo’ is an uplifting book about love, loss and redemption. It’s also a book about a small black feline who helped bring a family even closer together by sheer force of her cat personality.

 

Billy, me and youBilly, me & you: a memoir of grief and recovery by Nicola Streeten

What happens when a child dies? This title presents bereavement and recovery in graphic novel form – perceptive, funny and moving all at once.

Dying Matters Awareness Week

dying matters logoDeath is not the most pleasant subject to talk about, but yet we all know that it will happen to us eventually. Leeds City Council is pleased to be supporting Dying Matters Awareness week, a week to encourage us all to prepare for the inevitable.

We have a number of leaflets in libraries over the week, to help with the following subjects:- Five Things to do before I die; Putting your house in order; Mythbusting; Organ Donation; My funeral wishes.

Of course you can also borrow a number of titles to help and advise you from our libraries. We currently have some suggestions on the front page of our catalogue.

There are also a number of events happening across the city during the week. Further information on these can be found on the Leeds City Council website.