Book Shelf: Healing a Grandparent’s Grieving Heart

Author: Carol Flack

Healing A Grandparents Grieving Heart book coverA grandparent's loss packs a double whammy. There is grief for your grandchild who died and grief for your child's devastating loss. But there's also the feeling that you must try to be strong for the sake of your child who is grieving. Healing a Grandparent's Grieving Heart by Alan Wolfelt is a book that addresses the special concerns of grandparents in the aftermath of their loss of a grandchild. It contains one hundred easy-to-read messages ranging from "Giving yourself permission to mourn" to "Embracing the ways you are growing through grief."

Wolfelt suggests writing down memories and, as a grandparent, I set out to do just that. I read through our letters and looked through pictures, which brought back many happy memories. Then I typed a sheet about Brad for each of the early years of his life. I went through the letters and photos several times and still do once in a while, even after ten years.

Bereaved grandparents often feel helpless to ease the pain of their child's bereavement. Although not all of Wolfelt's points will hit home, there is a great deal of good common sense and many down to earth suggestions in this little book.

One of Wolfelt's messages was called, "Give Something Away." He wrote: "Now might be a good time to pare down your belongings. You probably don't need most of them anyhow and maybe someone else could put them to good use."

One of the best suggestions for me when we lost our grandson in Iraq ten years ago was to "adopt someone," reminding us that our hearts have the capacity to expand infinitely. I found a widowed neighbor who needed someone to talk to and I became that shoulder to cry on for her. It helped me to find something constructive to do when I felt so helpless in other areas.

In addition to contributing articles to each issue of TAPS Magazine, Wolfelt supports and writes for The Compassionate Friends, which is the largest organization of grieving parents, grandparents, and siblings in the United States. Similar to the last portion of the TAPS motto, which encourages us to "Share the Journey," The Compassionate Friends credo tells us, "We need not walk alone." Reading a book like this helps us to feel that we are not alone; others have found coping strategies that can help us live with loss. 

Reviewed by Carol Flack, surviving grandmother of Spc. Bradley S. Beard, Written by Alan D. Wolfelt