Books That Helped My Grief After Baby Loss

November 17, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

"Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul." -  Joanne Harris

Right after stillbirth, I found it extremely difficult to read books on grief - partially because I was still in denial of my loss. I didn't want to face the help I really needed.

However, as time went on, grief became heavily overwhelming. I felt isolated in my own experience and had many sleepless nights.

Within the first year after Elijah's death, I caved in and got a book called "On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss" by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. and David Kessler. Although, Kübler-Ross is a noted author of books on death and dying, and dealing with loss, I couldn't find any comfort in reading her book.

This is not to say that her book was terrible and not worth reading, it just wasn't my kind of book. I found it a struggle to accept grief in "five stages." Nothing about losing Elijah felt like stages and my grief was not linear. I was disappointed because I really wanted to benefit from her book. I ended up selling the book to a local bookstore, hoping that someone else might find it helpful.

It later became clear that I needed to narrow my search for books on grief, specifically on stillbirth or baby loss. 

In my search, books on stillbirth and baby loss was a rare find and mostly sold online. It is unbelievable of how many bookstores have an abundance on pregnancy and parenting, but not enough or any on miscarriages, stillbirths, or bereaved parents of pregnancy loss and infant death (someone needs to do something about this!).

Moreover, my struggle with secondary infertility led to the same experience with infertility books (that were not on IVF or reproductive assistance).

Overtime, I found the right books that have helped with my grief - and sometimes found them in strange and heartwarming ways. I have a list of my top five favorites and another five that I have yet to finish reading, but still recommend. I know that some of these books may not be for everyone and hope that by sharing them that someone will love them as much as I have.

If any of these books were not for you, I wish you the best in finding the right one.

1. Spirit Babies: How to Communicate with the Child You're Meant to Have by Walter Makichen 

Before Elijah was born, I had a dream of how he would die - although, I didn't know this at the time I had the dream. I discovered that the dream was a form of "pre-birth communication" and later began to have many more dreams about Elijah and other [spirit] babies.

Makichen's book can be controversial; not all believe in spirits or clairvoyants, however, he includes stories of those who have asked for his help, concerning conception and pregnancy. Some of these stories addresses experiences such as pregnancy loss, abortion, and fertility issues. He also discusses the chakra system and how healing certain energies can help resolve problematic issues within the body, as well as spiritual concerns. At the end of the book, there are meditation practices/chants that can be used for pre-birth communication. 

His book was very comforting and a supplement to my spiritual search after loss. After reading Spirit Babies, I began seeking more information on pre-birth communication, which led me to finding a similar book, Stories of the Unborn Soul

2. Stories of the Unborn Soul: The Mystery and delight of Pre-Birth Communication by Elisabeth Hallett

Elisabeth Hallett is a writer and researcher of mysteries and phenomenons. In Stories of the Unborn Soul, she has interviewed and collected stories on pre-birth communication. Her mission was to share these hidden experiences that many have kept secret and encourage the exploration of a different perspective on pre-conception and "our soul's pre-existence."

Many of the stories I have read in this book is in comparison with my own experiences with the spirit world. This book is a must-read for those who have had pre-birth communication and want to read more about a similar experience. 

3. Angels In My Hair: The True Story of a Modern-Day Irish Mystic by Lorna Byrne

This book was recommended by a girl who worked at a gift shop when my husband and I went to Monterey last Summer. I was looking for things to help with grief and she told me that Angels In My Hair was a book that might help. I flipped through the book a few times, contemplating for awhile on whether to get it. Somehow, I happened to land on a chapter with Elijah's name and knew this was a sign to keep and read the book (it didn't take long for me to finish reading!)

Angels In My Hair is an autobiography of Lorna Byrne's life and her ability to communicate with angels. In the beginning chapters, she shares her childhood experience of seeing and playing with her brother, who was born and had died before her birth. It warmed my heart to read that she would sometimes would see her brother as a baby in their mother's arms.

Byrne's life story is often tragic and full of unfortunate events, yet, she is guided through many of her troubling times. To the very end of this book, I cried and felt so much love and admiration for her courage to continue living life after her husband's death. Today, she is often interviewed, spreading messages of hope and faith, and a best-selling author of several books on angels.

4. Signs of Life (A Memoir): Finding the Best In Yourself During the Worst Life Has to Offer by Natalie Taylor

I found this book on a day that a bookstore was hosting a Labor Day 20% off sale. I wasn't expecting to find anything worth reading, but somehow found this book on a bottom shelf.

The strange thing about this book was reading how Natalie lost her husband due to a freak accident when she was five months pregnant with their son. Her husband, Josh, died on June 17, 2007, which somewhat compares to Elijah's death on June 16, 2016! I was also five months pregnant with Elijah; the same timing of her pregnancy with her son. I was 23-years-old when Elijah died, Natalie was 24-years-old when her husband died (we were close in age).

Other similarities of our loss stories were of how we were grieving a "backward" loss and having to deal with a death that took away the opportunity of experiencing a "complete family." Reading her story was like reading a different side of my loss (losing a husband instead of a baby), while grieving the same pain.

5. I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy by Angie Smith

I don't remember exactly when I found this book, but do remember finding this in the infertility/pregnancy section of a Half-Price Bookstore. I also remember googling one day (within a year after loss) and came across Angie Smith and the story of Audrey, who was born "incompatible with life." I had forgotten that she published a book about Audrey and later found it in-store on a day that I really needed it.

With her faith in God, Angie uses verses from the Bible to help readers find comfort. She includes family photos of their experience with Audrey and pieces of her personal blog. She also shares some of the magical things she encounters such as "Audrey Bunny" and explains the struggle of helping her young daughters understand the death and loss of their baby sister.

I Will Carry You was a book that had me crying from the start and is a beautiful story of how Audrey's life strengthened Angie's faith. Her husband, Todd, is a member of a Christian band called, Selah. I Will Carry You (also called Audrey's Song) is a song written by Todd and Angie smith, and Christa Wells. Whether of Christian faith or not, this book encourages compassion for all bereaved parents.

Here is the list of other books I am currently reading for grief/infertility:

1. Healing: Advice for Recovering Your Inner Strength & Spirit from the World's Most Famous Survivors Edited by J. Pincott

2. Grieving The Child I Never Knew: A Devotional for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born Child by Kathe Wunnenberg

3. Unspeakable Losses: Understanding the Experience of Pregnancy Loss, Miscarriage, and Abortion by Kim Kluger-Bell

4. Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice's Domar's Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility by Alice D. Dormar, Ph.D.

5. When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind by Elizabeth Laing Thompson

For more books relating to Pregnancy or Infant Loss, please visit the books page.

With love,
Must Read:
Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

Photo: maxpixel

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