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CHECK OUT: The Gift



Dear Friends,


A book that I continue to recommend to many people working through pain, suffering, death, and grieving is The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life by Dr. Edith Eger. Personally, I have read this book three times now and each time I learn more from Dr. Eger.


Dr. Eger is a 96-year-old psychologist and Holocaust survivor. She writes from personal experience and the experience of her patients. This book could be applicable for everyone but especially to people who are dealing with tough relationships, death, pain, suffering, and grief.


Dr. Eger’s research and writing help death doulas to encourage our clients and their families as they navigate their emotions without judgment and see what their emotions are trying to teach them. Thinking about the entire grieving family, the death doula will have opportunities to companion young and old. Being reminded of the importance of allowing children space for their grief, questions, and suffering is part of what we do. The idea of leaning into the grief, sitting with it, keeping it company, not shying away from it, or fearing it all comes out in this chapter.


Chapter 6: What Didn’t Happen (Unresolved Grief) There are many fantastic points in this chapter that I have read and re-read. Dr. Eger maintain:

“All therapy is grief work. A process of confronting a life where you expect one thing and get another, a life that brings you the unexpected and unanticipated.”

Considering the legacy work we may have the opportunity to do with our clients, I think that these points can be applied to every life lived and examined. Our clients and their families are often dealing with the unexpected in their lives, be it the way they are dying, their loved one is dying, the family relationship, the family history, etc. This chapter tackles all of these issues head on.

“It’s good to keep crying for those we’ve lost, to keep feeling the ache, to let ourselves be in the sorrow and accept that it’s not ever going to go away…”

Dr. Eger talks about how she worked to help families find greater freedom within their grief, to celebrate that the spirits of their loved ones came sometimes for a little time or a long time, but it is about letting go of our guilt. It is about seeing the sorrow and joy can coexist and embrace them both. It is seeing that we can go on living for a loved one and not want to die for them. When it comes to the work we do with grief and bereavement, these points are priceless. So many emotions are wrapped up in grief. Dr. Eger points out that we need to make space to acknowledge them, hold them, and process them to allow healing to progress.


The Gift is a definite must-read book for all death doulas in my opinion. It is one that I will be recommending to families if they are looking for reading recommendations. It was recommended to me from my psychologist during a time of tremendous grief and has become one of my treasured reads. I feel confident in offering it as a reading recommendation for anyone in the grief journey.


If you would like more information on how the book is related to the journey of grieving, death, feeling & healing, watch this TED talk by Dr. Eger. It is quite interesting to watch. She is a gifted teacher.


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Lisa McColeman is a graduate of HHA's death doula certificate program anda Wellington Terrace pet therapy team member.

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