Voices of the Grieving Heart

Non-Fiction - Grief/Hardship
304 Pages
Reviewed on 09/14/2021
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Author Biography

Mike’s first wife, Susan, died in 1991. In the years that followed, he published the first edition of Voices of the Grieving Heart, remarried, and raised a son with his second wife, Yvonne. Mike has volunteered as a peer grief support volunteer and is a Certified Grief Educator.

This 30th anniversary expanded edition of Voices of the Grieving Heart contains over 130 selected poems by 80 writers who authentically share their journeys through loss, grief, and transformation, including:
• Deaths due to suicide, stillbirth, COVID-19, and other circumstances
• Reflections on grief, 30 years later, from contributors to the first edition of this book
• Blank pages for readers to add their own poetry, with suggestions for how to begin writing

Mike has spoken to groups, on radio, and on podcasts to discuss this book, his experience of grief, and how poetry can help us to express the inexpressible. Mike is also an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications. He and his family reside in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Visit his website at https://mikebernhardt.net.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Voices of the Grieving Heart by Mike Bernhardt is a compilation of work that allows a reader to meditate through the words of others during a time that is often the most difficult of our short lives. This is, of course, the grieving process following the death of someone we love. Bernhardt has carefully constructed this book with pieces contributed by other writers and artists, a collaboration that provides a range of touching entries that, in one form or another, readers of all backgrounds can connect with. Broken down into eight sections, Bernhardt gives readers poetic solace with pieces such as Dixie Pines' heartbreaking ode to suicide in How So?, to Maggie Jackson's My Next Love, which depicts the defiant desire to love freely against the unrealistic determination to never feel pain again.

I had to set Voices of the Grieving Heart aside for the whole of last week as it touched upon my own grief following the recent loss of a loved one. It was my husband who started to read it out loud to me. Mike Bernhardt gave me a soothing ointment for the soul, and I am grateful for it. The artwork is gorgeous, with several pieces of photography by Cassandra English being the standouts. The sheer volume of contributors is mind-boggling with a headcount of eighty-three. It's a tribe of individuals coming together as a collective in solidarity and in grief, but also in hope. It is permission to take all the time and space necessary to accept life, moving forward with a chunk of your heart missing, but also a bit of hand-holding so you know that when you are ready, there are others willing to listen. This is a beautiful anthology of work and I imagine many will find solace in its beautiful effort to help heal.