Words of comfort: 5 books on grief

Fay Bloor

SAIFInsight looks over five books on grieving to share with families at the most difficult times.

Rainbows Through Clouds

Compiled by Lady Glover

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Lady Janet Glover’s anthology of prose and poetry offers the bereaved, or the soon to be bereaved, some hope. More than 150 short texts will resonate with adults and children alike and will provide vital funds for the Rainbow Trust, which supports families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness.

The book was compiled in 1997 by Lady Glover because she felt that there wasn’t anything like it.

“I’ve always kept what I call a commonplace book where I’ve written little snippets of things that have appealed to me,” she explains. “I’d put in poems that I’ve liked, then someone said ‘why don’t you put it into a book?’ So, I thought, well, I’ll do it for the Rainbow Trust because I was involved in fundraising at the beginning of the organisation.”

However, having sent the manuscript to various publishers, no deal was forthcoming.

“They sat on it for almost a year and then sent a letter back saying no, sorry, there’s no market for anything like this,” she recalls. “Then my father died, and he left me a little bit of money, so I put it towards publishing it privately.”

Within three months 1,000 copies were gone, and another 5,000 followed, going equally swiftly.

“After that, I gave it to the Rainbow Trust as a gift,” she says. “And they’ve been selling it ever since – it’s raised £88,500 so far.”

“Quite often families facing the death of a child, or having just experienced a loss, can’t think what to have for the funeral and perhaps funeral directors would be able to have copies on hand to give families to help them. It’s not just for people who have lived a long life. When I send it to friends if their husband has died, they say it’s given them a huge understanding of everything, and a comfort. People still write to me who I don’t really know who they are, but just thanking me for printing it.”

Lady Glover

The Rainbow Trust was formed by Bernadette Cleary in 1986 after she had helped two close friends through the terminal illnesses of their children.

She later said: “Unless you have experienced being with a child at the moment of death, there is a paralysing fearfulness about what will happen. It is the fear of an unknown journey. But once you have been there and come out the other side, that fearfulness passes and something much more beautiful grows.”

“Bernadette wanted carers to go into homes because the families don’t want to be in hospital,” says Lady Glover. “They want their children, if they are dying, to be at home, because it’s also the siblings, the rest of the family, who are suffering. She wanted to help all of them.”

Now the Trust employs 76 full-time staff and around 300 volunteers in its six care teams across England, and their work is intensive.

“When we send carers in, we send them in in pairs, with an expert family support worker,” explains Lady Glover. “They will stay there for as long as needed. It’s not just a question of dipping in and dipping out.”

Of course, this service does not come cheap. A day of a support worker costs £182, or £44,500 a year, and the Trust can support around 25 families at any one time. This book is one way of supporting that work.

“I hope funeral directors will feel that they may be able to stock the book which could bring comfort and a source of ideas for families putting services together,” says Lady Glover.

Missing Someone Special – Grief Activity Book for Children


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Family-owned Wathall’s, Derby’s longest established independent funeral director, has created a beautifully illustrated activity book to support children and young people who have lost a loved one.

Wathall’s Bereavement Support Coordinator and qualified counsellor Fay Bloor worked with University of Derby graduate and freelance illustrator Michael Ashley to create the book, which has been published as part of Wathall’s Dandelions Bereavement Support service. It gently explains practical things such as what happens at both burial and cremation services, as well as highlighting the importance of sharing emotions following a bereavement.

There is space for children to write down their happy memories of the loved one they have lost and express their feelings through words and pictures.

At least £1 from the sale of each book will be given to Treetops Hospice and will be put towards their Children’s Bereavement Service.

Cooking For One

Simon Beckett-Allen, Rosedale Funeral Home

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Cooking For One is the idea of Simon Beckett-Allen, who co-owns Rosedale Funeral Home which has bases around Norfolk and Suffolk. Simon was inspired to create the cookbook in memory of his late sister, who was a chef, and the book features contributions from a range of people who have all lost a loved one including Norfolk-based actress Liza Goddard, writer and businessman Sir John Timpson CBE, and popular Norfolk chef Richard Hughes. As well as highlighting the meals that are important to them, they also share poignant memories of their loved ones.

Sarah's Kitchen

A wide range of recipes for simple, wholesome, and nutritious dishes will help people rediscover the joy of cooking and baking after bereavement.

The proceeds of the book, which is published in September, will support Cruse Bereavement Care, which is the largest charity of its type and supports over 50,000 people dealing with grief each year.

Simon says: “We hope funeral directors will share the information amongst their bereavement groups and anyone else who may benefit.”

What Happened to Daddy’s Body?

Elke Barber

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This picture book aims to help children aged 3+ to understand what happens to the body after someone has died. Through telling the true story of what happened to his daddy’s body, readers follow Alex as he learns about cremation, burial and spreading ashes.

Full of questions written in Alex’s own words, and with the gentle, sensitive, and honest answers of his mother, this story will reassure any young child who might be confused about death and what happens afterwards. It also reiterates the message that when you have experienced the loss of a loved one, it is okay to be sad, but it is okay to be happy, too.

Notes on Grief

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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In this tender and powerful essay, expanded from the original New Yorker text, bestselling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie remembers her beloved father with rich, poetic language.

“Grief is a cruel kind of education,” she writes. “You learn how ungentle mourning can be, how full of anger. You learn how glib condolences can feel. You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping for language.”

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