The best grief books to see you through the 3 Ds: death, diagnosis or divorce

Who am I?

I am a speaker, grief investigator, filmmaker, and voracious reader! Since the death of my eldest son, Harry, 23 years ago, I have become passionate about changing the landscape for people who have to face life and work when they are living with grief. Books on grief helped me enormously right from the start with Harry’s diagnosis when I was going through ‘living’ or ‘anticipatory grief’ and even more after Harry’s death. They could be fiction or factual; it didn’t matter. They offered me a translation, a guide for what I was going through, and gave me the courage to go forward as these authors were demonstrating. 


I wrote...

When Grief Equals Love: Long-term Perspectives on Living with Loss

By Lizzie Pickering,

Book cover of When Grief Equals Love: Long-term Perspectives on Living with Loss

What is my book about?

Why are we so bad at talking about grief? Although things are improving slowly, it does still seem to be the last taboo of mental health. 

Lizzie shares her observations, including diary entries written following the death of her son Harry in November 2000. How she has learned to live alongside loss, navigating a new landscape and accommodating grief into her life, both personally and professionally. With 24 years of investigative experience, the book includes interviews from Lizzie’s grief tribe about their very different experiences of grief, what has helped them, and what has not. This book is for those experiencing loss and anyone who might need to support them. It will encourage readers to be more courageous in facing profound changes in their lives. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Gift: 14 Lessons to Save Your Life

Lizzie Pickering Why did I love this book?

Dr. Eger is an Auschwitz survivor and therapist who, at 96 years old, is also a social media influencer; she has a great Instagram account!

Her wisdom lies in her honesty; having helped 100s of people with their own issues, she admits she continues to work on herself and her ability to live with grief and trauma. She demonstrates a life-long commitment to not only helping others but also sharing what has helped her to live well alongside her sadness. She lives a happy life, which includes profound trauma from the past.

I love books that are written from the heart but with a professional slant, and this is the ultimate example! 

By Edith Eva Eger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'An incredible human being with an extraordinary story to share' Dr Rangan Chatterjee

'A beautiful, life-changing manifesto' Brene Brown

'I will be forever changed by Dr Eger's story' Oprah

'Her story is a testament to our true human potential. She's a gift' Nicole LePera

Each moment in Auschwitz was hell on earth. It was also my best classroom. Subjected to loss, torture, starvation and the constant threat of death, I discovered tools for survival and freedom that I continue to use every day.

In her darkest moments, Edith Eger discovered that the most damaging prison was the one in her…


Book cover of Languages of Loss: A psychotherapist's journey through grief

Lizzie Pickering Why did I love this book?

It is rare to find a book by a therapist that is written so viscerally and openly about their own personal experience. In writing about the sudden and unexpected death of her husband, Bill, Sasha has her professional and personal hat on.

I could almost feel her grief coming in waves through the pages, but rather than that being depressing, the therapist in her writes with wise observations on what is happening, what she is going through, and what helped at any given time; and just as importantly, what didn’t.

I have recommended this book to so many people going through grief and also to those who support them. It is a must-read! 

By Sasha Bates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Languages of Loss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is the most startlingly honest book about grief I have ever read. Its immediacy hits you on the first page and takes you on an unforgettable journey. No one has set out so clearly the stages we go through as we try to come to terms with facing the enormity of death.' - Dame Penelope Wilton, DBE

'Sasha writes exquisitely and honestly, the sheer rawness of what she has gone through and is still going through, sitting in balance with the calm and clear-sighted objectivity of the therapist, who is also her.' - Hugh Bonneville

One person, two perspectives…


Book cover of The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss

Lizzie Pickering Why did I love this book?

I have spent the last 24 years living with grief personally over my son Harry and professionally investigating the grief of others, and no other book has explained to me so well how we survive grief and why it takes so long to adapt to it.

This book caused so many light bulb moments! My biggest takeaway is that it takes a lifetime for our brains to map the people in our lives and many weeks, months, and years to remap when someone dies or leaves us.

To have that scientifically proven is a gift for anyone living with grief; it normalises what can feel more like madness, and that is a comfort. 

By Mary-Frances O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Grieving Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NPR SciFri Book Club Pick

Next Big Idea Club's "Top 21 Psychology Books of 2022"

Behavioral Scientist Notable Books of 2022

A renowned grief expert and neuroscientist shares groundbreaking discoveries about what happens in our brain when we grieve, providing a new paradigm for understanding love, loss, and learning.

In The Grieving Brain, neuroscientist and psychologist Mary-Frances O'Connor, PhD, gives us a fascinating new window into one of the hallmark experiences of being human. O'Connor has devoted decades to researching the effects of grief on the brain, and in this book, she makes cutting-edge neuroscience accessible through her contagious enthusiasm,…


Book cover of H is for Hawk

Lizzie Pickering Why did I love this book?

I read this book when it was first published in 2014 and have revisited it many times since. 

My father died in 2012, and this book connected me to how I was feeling over my own loss. Helen’s words comforted me and consoled me, never placating or patronising, but placed so perfectly on the page that they made me feel she was reading me, not the other way round. The feeling of being set apart from others for a while, needing nature and self-nurture before venturing back into life.

I have recommended it to friends and clients, especially those who mourn parents, but really, it’s for anyone who grieves, which, let’s face it, will be all of us one day. 

By Helen Macdonald,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked H is for Hawk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year

ON MORE THAN 25 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR LISTS: including TIME (#1 Nonfiction Book), NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine (10 Favorite Books), Vogue (Top 10), Vanity Fair, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle (Top 10), Miami Herald, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Minneapolis Star Tribune (Top 10), Library Journal (Top 10), Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Slate, Shelf Awareness, Book Riot, Amazon (Top 20)

The instant New York Times bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of…


Book cover of The Wild Other: A memoir of love, adventure and how to be brave

Lizzie Pickering Why did I love this book?

This book gave me courage when I was at a low ebb. 

Clover bravely describes the ferocity of her longing and grief over her mother following an accident. Her mother is alive but is not the person she knew and loved, more a toddler in an adult body. Clover takes flight as a teenager, and in her mission to understand her own shock and turmoil, she is drawn into challenging and sometimes dangerous situations with people, which she handles with fortitude.

I was left feeling that in the face of adversity, if we are brave and walk towards our grief, we can handle it eventually, bringing it forward into a new landscape (in Clover’s case, adulthood) and learning from it every step of the way. 

By Clover Stroud,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wild Other as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE

'Extraordinary, and a painful but invigorating read. I've never met anyone who has read it and doesn't rank it as one of their favourite books.' Dolly Alderton

'This story - so fierce and brave and visceral and raw - will stay with me forever. Clover Stroud is a force of nature, and a woman who is fearless in the face of life and death. I loved it.' Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love

'There is so much richly evoked life here... beautifully written.' Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Times

'This redemptive memoir will steal your heart;…


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A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

Book cover of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

Janet Hulstrand Author Of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Editor Francophile Minnesotan Once and forever Brooklynite

Janet's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This memoir chronicles the lives of three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel. The story begins in 1992 in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn as the author reads a notebook written by her grandmother nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year search to find her grandmother’s journals and uncover the hidden interior lives of her mother and grandmother.

Her adventures take her to a variety of locations, from a small town in Iowa to New York, Washington, London, and Paris—and finally to a little village in France, where she is finally able to write the book that will tell her own story, intertwined with the stories of her mother and grandmother.

A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

What is this book about?

This story, about three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel, begins in 1992, in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn, as a young writer reads journals written by her grandmother as a schoolgirl nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year quest to uncover the hidden lives and unfulfilled dreams of her mother and grandmother. In this coming-of-middle-age memoir, the author comes to realize that the passion for travel and for literature that has fueled her life's journey is a gift that was passed down to her by the very role models she was…


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