Grief is as tricky as it is painful.
Words that comfort one day come up short the next. It’s difficult to be that friend who knows what to say or do. The closest thing I’ve found to a manual for “being there for a suffering friend” is There is No Good Card for This by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell.
Written by a social worker and illustrated by a cancer survivor, this book navigates the space beyond “I’m sorry for your loss” with practical advice for showing up. For example, showing up can look like shoveling a sidewalk unasked, remembering a birthday or anniversary, or listening without comparing a survivor’s pain to your own experiences.
Another book worth reading to understand grief is Tyler Feder’s graphic novel Dancing at the Pity Party. Feder was a sophomore in college when her mother died of cancer. Ten years later, Feder recounts how this mama’s girl survived her loss. She uses simple drawings to catch crushing moments in the hospital, lists of her best tips for a good cry, and stories of the mundane things her mother did to show her love. Feder doesn’t flinch away from her guilt or anger or sadness–she sugarcoats nothing. Instead, she shows readers how she coped with The Worst Thing, celebrating her mother’s life in the process.