I love picture books. I delighted when my kids were little and I could indulge for the sake of my offspring’s literacy. But it’s been awhile since we hung out in that area of Powell’s but I found one at the bookstore the other day that I couldn’t resist.

It’s The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. It’s about grief. But stay with me here because it’s beautifully done and it’s helping me with my grief.

Each year since my mom died in 2013, I have a grief month from March 21st (the day she was diagnosed with a reoccurrence of her cancer) to April 21st (the day she died). I recount the days to myself “this is the day she called from the ER”, “this is the day she went to the quilt show”, “this is the day she went into the hospital”, “this is the day she stopped talking”, you get the idea. It’s a ritual that I keep repeating, still trying to change the outcome.

SPOILER ALERT: nothing changes the outcome.

I picked up The Heart and the Bottle from a bookstore display table to thumb through it because the drawings are lovely and I was waiting for my daughter to choose a new Happily Ever After High installment. I ended up kind of cowering at the tiny picnic table in the corner of the kid’s section with giant grief tears sliding down my cheeks. It was a relief to see in those pictures what my heart had been doing the last three years. And to be reminded that my mom might actually want me to try an alternate route.

So, if you or someone you love is dealing with grief and has maybe constrained their heart a bit (I don’t think I’m giving anything away there), I highly recommend this book as a reminder of how it can be.