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Not Your Typical Beach Read

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By Toni L. Eaton, RN, BSN, MS, President & CEO of Old Colony Hospice & Palliative Care

August: Hot sands. Summer waves. And beach reads. Time to grab the sunglasses and head to the shore with a good book.

I know the beach read is supposed to be, well, not serious, more on the light side. Everyone should definitely have a few of those to dive into this season. A little bit of mystery, romance, sci-fi, or comic relief— all good choices. This summer, though, you might also consider slipping a slightly different kind of book into your beach bag, something that may sound a bit heavier but could make you feel a little lighter.

There’s no doubt that it has been a rough couple of years, and many of us are still reeling from layers of loss and trying to right the balance in our lives. As we catch our collective breath, we’re looking for ways to recover, heal, and tap into hope.

I asked our social work and spiritual care teams at Old Colony Hospice & Palliative Care and Dr. Ruth McLain Hospice Home for book recommendations that have inspired and helped them, their loved ones, and their patients. Here are some of their favorites. You won’t find these on your typical beach read list, but they might offer comfort and emotional relaxation—the true mark of a good beach read.

  • The Book Of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Simply existing in the world today can be stressful. This book explores how we can seek and find joy in the midst of suffering and turmoil. Drawing on two of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders, The Book of Joy is an invitation to strengthen our capacity for joy and giving.
  • The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nero. A book that gently nudges you to be more aware and awake and present in your life. It is a summons to break out of the deadening state of emotional sleepwalking to reclaim aliveness and revel in the beauty of the world, despite the hardships it may bring.
  • Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Make Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser. An exploration of one of life’s more difficult questions: how can we emerge from challenges and suffering stronger than before? With insight, humor, and common sense, this book explores the human relationship to life’s changes and choices.
  • Resilient Grieving: How to Find Your Way Through a Devastating Loss (Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss that Changes Everything) by Lucy Hone. Life after loss is a powerful time. This book begins with Hone’s own tragedy, the death of her teenage daughter, and shows ways to harness the power of resilience to work through horrible loss and devastating changes. Combining personal stories and psychological research, the book presents an active approach to dealing with grief and difficult life shifts in a way that can help heal and enhance life.
  • The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. A lovely, tender children’s book that will bring comfort to readers of any age. A young girl full of wonder suffers a great loss and puts her heart away in a bottle, where it can never be hurt again. She retreats into herself and stops noticing the stars and the sea and the world that had once delighted her. This is a book about loss, enduring love, and getting your heart back.

Toni L. Eaton, RN, BSN, MS, is the President & CEO of Old Colony Hospice & Palliative Care of West Bridgewater, a dynamic non-profit hospice serving more than 55 communities south of Boston. OCH also runs the Dr. Ruth McLain Hospice Home in Braintree. A native and resident of the South Shore, Toni brings her compassion and experience as a nurse, veteran, and community leader to her insightful columns for South Shore Senior News. She is the founder of Sunny Paws Dog Rescue. Her leadership has been honored by several groups, including the South Shore Women’s Business Network. She currently sits on the boards of the Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Regulatory Committee. For more information, call (781) 341-4145 or visit Old Colony Hospice & Palliative Care at www.oldcolonyhospice.org.