Finding Healing in Books

Finding Healing in Books

I’ve been a book nerd for my entire life. I was the kind of kid who won class contests in middle school for reading the most pages, and I tried to be a Meteorologist in college, but couldn’t resist the pull of being an English major. Now, I run my book blog, Literary Quicksand. After Jonah, though, my reading habits have shifted. I’m still devouring books, but much less fiction and a lot more memoirs.

I’m in love with reading memoirs…I just can’t get enough of the real. I’m sucked into the real-life trials and tribulations of people, instead of the ones their minds make up. This is partly because I want to write my own and need inspiration, but mostly because I look for comfort in other peoples’ words. When dealing with intense grief, I have an unending thirst for reading how others are dealing with theirs. What can I glean from their experience that can comfort me in my own situation?

Since losing Jonah, I’ve found so much comfort in solidarity. It sucks that there are so many other moms out there who go through this kind of thing, but the community is amazing, kind, and supportive. Reading about terrible situations and trials that others have gone through is just so helpful in putting my own into perspective. No, not everybody goes through something this terrible, but a lot of people do. We’re not alone in this.

I started with books about losing pregnancies or babies, but I’ve since branched out to any sort of memoir about going through something terrible, or just something hard. I just finished My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward, by a husband whose wife just suddenly has to deal with psychosis in their mid-late 20’s. This terrible thing just snuck up on them, out of the blue.

Then there’s Nora McInerny’s It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) – you’ve seen me talk about this one before. She is my grief hero, and her book makes me feel like all of this emotional turmoil I’m going through is completely normal and expected.

Today, I picked up Cheryl Strayed’s Wild from the library. No, I haven’t read this one yet. In fact, I’ve given it a pretty wide berth, because the movie came out just after I lost my own mom. I knew the premise was that she loses her mom and it throws her off kilter, so I’ve just not wanted to inflict the pain on myself of reading it. Today, though, I made the decision that it’s time.

The first chapter is absolutely heart breaking, about Strayed’s mom dying from lung cancer. It was hard to read, but I’m so glad I picked it up. I haven’t gone for a 1,000 some mile hike through the wilderness by myself, but there are things I have done that feel emotionally similar.

I have a whole stack of non-fiction in m library list and on my shelves, and I just can’t wait to dive into all of them. Seriously, I don’t know where I would be without reading during this time of grief.


Hi! I'm Joli, mom to my precious Jonah. Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Please feel free to reach out to me at any time <3


  • Teri
    May 26, 2017 3:56 pm

    Thanks for this entry! I am making note of the books you mentioned, as I too have found myself drawn to how people cope with extreme grief. I’ve stumbled on Nora’s podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” but I look forward to reading her book!

    • jolissa
      May 26, 2017 6:04 pm

      Oh you’ll love it! I met her…it was amazing <3 She hugged me and I promptly started crying! Hahaha I'm sure she's used to that though 🙂

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