The best books to get to grips with grief

Who am I?

I'm the author of the best-selling books How to Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life BackHow to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back, The Recovery Letters, and What I Do to Get Through. My sixth book will be, How to Smash Stress: 40 Ways to Manage the Unmanageable.


I wrote...

How to Get to Grips with Grief: 40 Ways to Manage the Unmanageable

By James Withey,

Book cover of How to Get to Grips with Grief: 40 Ways to Manage the Unmanageable

What is my book about?

This book is for anyone who has lost someone. It may have been recently, or it may have been years ago, but still it stings like it was yesterday. I've known the grief beast since I was five, when my dad died, and it has followed me ever since. In my twenty years of supporting people with their own grief, as a counsellor and social care worker, I have helped others work through their despair and reconcile the injustice of grief.

 With humour and warmth, I provide forty ways to help you live with and manage your grief no matter what stage you’re at. It provides comfort for when it all gets too much, ideas for when you feel at a loss for what to do, and more than a laugh or two to balance out the sadness.

The books I picked & why

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A Grief Observed

By C.S. Lewis,

Book cover of A Grief Observed

Why this book?

He talks about the death of his wife in such a relatable way to anyone who has experienced grief. He speaks about his faith which I was less interested in but some people may be as death and spirituality are so closely linked. It describes the pain and emotions we experience with grief in detail and in a way to make us feel less alone


You Will Be Okay: Find Strength, Stay Hopeful and Get to Grips with Grief

By Julie Stokes,

Book cover of You Will Be Okay: Find Strength, Stay Hopeful and Get to Grips with Grief

Why this book?

This book is aimed at children who have experienced a bereavement and will be massively helpful to them. I wish I had this book as a child! It's not patronising just clear and I found it very useful as an adult too because some of the techniques are simple but profound and that's often what we need when managing grief. 


The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss

By Richard Coles,

Book cover of The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss

Why this book?

He describes the death of his partner from alcoholism and the events leading up to it in an unflinchingly honest and moving way. It's raw and personal but that's what grief is. It's beautiful and respectful and shows how grief is both a shared experience and so completely individual at the same time. 


Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving

By Julia Samuel,

Book cover of Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving

Why this book?

The useful thing about this book is that it breaks down the different types of losses we can experience and examines those. Sibling loss, parental loss, loss of a child, etc. You can connect to your type of grief and learn specifics about how to manage it. It is also filled with compassion and wisdom from one of the grief experts in the world. 


The Year of Magical Thinking

By Joan Didion,

Book cover of The Year of Magical Thinking

Why this book?

Joan Didion was a master of nonfiction. In this book, she talks about the death of her husband and the illness of her daughter who predeceased her too. It's about loss but also about the fragility of life, how precarious and precious it is. There is a slight detachment in her writing but there is a huge amount to learn here. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in mourning, grief, and loss?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about mourning, grief, and loss.

Mourning Explore 76 books about mourning
Grief Explore 55 books about grief
Loss Explore 40 books about loss

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Journal of the Plague Year, Olive Kitteridge, and When Things Fall Apart if you like this list.