The written word is a powerful thing. For centuries, books have captivated hearts and minds of children and adults alike, and helped them to understand new ideas and perspectives. When going through a period of grief, reading books can help you cope with and work through your emotions. Experts have even come up with a term for using literature to provide guidance and support: bibliotherapy. If you are struggling with grief, consider picking up a good book. Need a little more convincing before you stop by your local library? Here are five ways that reading can help you cope with grief.
1. Reading can help you connect with others.
Reading is a wonderful way to build empathy. Whether you are grieving yourself or know someone who recently lost a loved one, reading can help you cope by opening up new perspectives. It can allow you to better understand what someone else is going through, and walk a mile in their shoes, so to speak.
Sharing stories can also be a helpful way to connect with others. If you are grieving and have trouble with the normal chatter of small talk, consider joining a book club or discussion group. You may find having a set point of discussion can help you feel more normal during a difficult time.
2. Reading can be a form of escapism.
Although it’s not a good idea to run from your grief, sometimes you need a bit of a break from reality. Reading can help you cope with grief by providing a temporary escape. Different types of books may feel like escapism to different people, from romance to science fiction.
Take care when selecting a book, however, to avoid one that could trigger unwanted emotions. Steer clear from topics of violence and death, if those topics could be potentially upsetting. Look for descriptions and reviews of the books you’re interested in (using a site such as Goodreads) to find something you will enjoy. Many book reviews include trigger warnings to help readers avoid topics they do not want to read about.
3. Reading can be familiar and comforting.
During periods of grief, the familiar can be incredibly comforting. Whether you grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries or Harry Potter, consider revisiting your favorite childhood books. The stories that brought you joy during your childhood are a wonderful way to bring back good memories during a difficult time.
Many people also find that books can bring back fond memories of a deceased loved one. If your loved one used to read you a particular story – even a picture book – revisiting that story now can bring back those positive memories. It’s also a great way to pass those memories along to the next generation.
4. Reading can give you a much-needed laugh (or cry).
Grief is a heavy burden to bear. Sometimes, nothing brings more comfort than a laugh. Reading can help you cope by giving you a break from the weight of your grief. Try picking up a lighter book, or one with plenty of humor. You might find that a laugh is just the thing to make you feel more like yourself.
On the other side of the coin, sometimes you might be looking for a book with content that matches your mood. A sad book, as long as it does not trigger too many unwanted feelings, can be a good way to express your grief in a healthy way.
5. Books can help you feel less alone.
When grieving, it can feel as though nobody understands what you are going through. Reading a book that deals with the concept of grief can help you feel seen and heard. Fiction and non-fiction can both be helpful in this area, depending on what you prefer to read. Reading can help you cope by reminding you that you are not alone. You may be surprised how much the journey of a fictional character can help you to see your own grief more clearly.
A good book can be a helpful tool to deal with the emotions you are experiencing. Reaching out to a friend to talk is another healthy way to work through your grief. No matter what you are going through, remember that you are not alone. Do not hesitate to open up to people in your life for fear of being a burden. Chances are, they will be glad to hear from you and will want to help in any way they can. Whether you connect over a story or just a shared cup of coffee, it’s important to lean on other people in your life for support.