Zettelkasten Forum

Books for sad, depressing and almost impossible to survive times.

Hi everyone.

I consider this forum kind of “highly lectured” because we are all fans of knowledge and pretty much love to read, learn and improve everything we do. I picture us as carpenters working in the middle of the woods crafting excellence, although instead of wood and carpenter tools we use our brains, our zettlekasten and pen.

I don’t want to say too much because it’s not the point. Let’s just say I lost something that was really important to me. Something I cared, cherished, loved, tried to understand and that always put a smile on my face.

Now that it’s lost I have to learn what to do with this. I meditate and being mindful of all the feelings that arise inside me has been a really interesting experience. It of course doesn’t stop the grief or the sadness, but I think it makes it healthy. I’m at peace with my feelings, seeing me as the place where the river just has to flow.

I’m considering reading Albert Camus - The Stranger and No Mud no Lotus - Thich Nhat Hanh.

I’ve read before this event in my life works from stoicism and Buddhism which I think are really helping me to experience this in the best way possible.

Well, thanks for reading and I will appreciate the suggestions of books you found helpful during times where your psyche was put to the test.


  • First of all, I am sorry for you loss. I send you all of my compassion and the goodest vibes I can to help you to get through these stormy days.

    Reading helped me a lot to get through hard times, however I read fiction books to evade from my psyche or my body the time needed to cicatrize. Sometimes I needed to put the book to cry, to mourn or whatever, and I let it go. It helped me to cut through the worst thinking and escape from the really, really bad downing spiral than this thoughts can lead to.

    Someone I know helped himself with a non-fiction book. I did'nt read it myself, but he warmly recommends it : Gawdat Mo, Solve For Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy. I can't tell you how useful it is, but the authour has lost his son and this book tells how he kept it up.

    I wish you the best.

  • I'm sorry for your loss! Given time, we all go through experiences like this, so know that you're not alone.

    • André Gorz: Letter to D. Gorz wrote this to say good-bye at the end of a long marriage.

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @Jvet, you mentioned the The Stranger by Albert Camus. I read it when I was a teenager, and perhaps I would have a different perspective on it today as an adult if I read it again, but based on my memory of it, I don't see how it would be very helpful. So I would vote against that book.

    I would recommend books on grief written by specialists in grief. For example, I found Thomas Attig's books helpful when I read them about 20 years ago: How We Grieve: Relearning the World (Oxford UP, 1996/2011) and The Heart of Grief: Death and the Search for Lasting Love (Oxford UP, 2000). Attig is a philosopher, but his books have more of a self-help quality to them. A recent book written by a philosopher that is more intellectual and not as consoling as Attig's books is Michael Cholbi's Grief: a Philosophical Guide (Princeton UP, 2022). There are also many good professional books about grief written for counselors that you can find in any good academic library catalogue, if you like reading the professional counseling literature.

  • edited May 24

    I wasn't seeking comfort when I read Determined: A Science of Life without Free Will by Robert M. Sapolsky. I found Determined unexpectedly reassuring after paying a fortune to someone I trusted for work that was "not to standard," as I later discovered.

    Post edited by ZettelDistraction on

    GitHub. Erdős #2. CC BY-SA 4.0. Problems worthy of attack / prove their worth by hitting back. -- Piet Hein.

  • edited May 25

    I'm sorry. I hope that you can find some relief talking with us in this place

    Post edited by andang76 on
  • When we lost our son, three things helped me find solace:

    1. My faith and belief system.
    2. Journaling my thoughts and feelings.
    3. Reading Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H., a book of poems he wrote in response to the loss of his close friend.

    Through this process of introspection, reflection, and remembrance, my sorrow gradually blossomed into cherished memories that I often revisit and still hold dear today.

    I sincerely hope you, too, may find your path to peace and comfort.

  • @Jvet Just want to second what @MikeBraddock said - he has some very good thoughts.

    Best wishes as you work through the feelings and consequences of your loss.

  • Just wanted to say a word of support as well. All good thoughts to you – and to everyone in this thread who had / have to face loss – from this random Internet stranger.
    Take care.

    "A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it." - Ernest Hemingway

    PKM: Obsidian + DEVONthink, tasks: OmniFocus, production: Scrivener / Ableton Live.

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