55 books directly related to grief 📚

All 55 grief books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

H Is for Hawk

By Helen MacDonald,

Book cover of H Is for Hawk

Why this book?

In glittering prose, this British author writes how she came apart after her father’s sudden heart attack, and how his death broke her. I was struck by the intensity and darkness of her grief, and how she coped with it. Captivated by falconry since childhood, Macdonald grieves by buying a young goshawk, naming her Mabel, and going through the painful training of Mabel. The bird changes, growing into an adult hawk that returns to Helen after flying free. And so did Macdonald change. She wrote that, as time passed, it worked its careful magic: her grief gave way to love, to loving memories of her father. This gave me the idea for my last chapter where I write that, with time, grief can alchemize into joy and happiness can return.

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders,

Book cover of Lincoln in the Bardo

Why this book?

This novel famously features a cast of 166 narrators… and not a single one of them has any idea what’s happened to them. Again, it’s a question of self-preservation; they don’t want to know what’s going on, because what’s going on is this: they’re dead. This is not a spoiler. The reader knows the situation from the beginning, and thus the tension in the book is not about our discovery of the truth, but about theirs. This is a powerful and surprisingly uplifting book about trust and acceptance. 


By John Bowlby,

Book cover of Attachment

Why this book?

This book is the foundational book on attachment. John Bowlby is the father of attachment theory and this seminal work was his masterpiece which describes in terms anyone can understand, the importance of attachment to the long-term emotional and mental health of children.

Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love

By Lisa Appignanesi,

Book cover of Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love

Why this book?

Lisa’s husband dies as he is being treated for cancer. She writes about the first year after in which grief, madness, confusion, isolation, and fury coincide with Britain’s beginning Brexit madness. Nothing can be made sense of and yet we need words to express what’s happening. And then words provide for consoling and managing.

Milo: Sticky Notes & Brain Freeze

By Alan Silberberg,

Book cover of Milo: Sticky Notes & Brain Freeze

Why this book?

Because I love how this book combines crazy humour and deep feeling. Because I am friends with the author I know that this book comes from somewhere deeply personal in his life – Silberberg’s mom died when he was a kid. This book needs to be read by anyone coping with the death of a loved one. Like all great books for kids, it’s for adults too!

Journey’s End: Death, Dying, and the End of Life

By Victoria Brewster, Julie Saeger Nierenberg,

Book cover of Journey’s End: Death, Dying, and the End of Life

Why this book?

This book is an anthology of over 50 perspectives on death and dying, grief, and bereavement shared by professionals who work in supporting the dying and bereaved and by those who have lived their own unique experiences of loss. It is a comprehensive cross-section of this topic and one which can be a valuable resource to anyone going through their own such experience or those who are preparing to support others in grief.

The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise

By Martín Prechtel,

Book cover of The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise

Why this book?

Because my art is impermanent, I write and think about that subject a lot. And IMHO, no one speaks as beautifully and powerfully to the subjects of impermanence, life, loss, and beauty better than Prechtel. Prechtel's book is a well of indigenous wisdom on the living relationship between grief and praise. He says, "When you’re grieving for the thing you got, it's called praise. When you're praising for the thing you lost, it's called grief.” If the Earth is speaking her wisdom, this author is delivering it faithfully and beautifully to us.

Dance Like a Leaf

By AJ Irving, Claudia Navarro (illustrator),

Book cover of Dance Like a Leaf

Why this book?

Lyrically written and vibrantly illustrated, this book shows the special relationship between grandmother and grandchild. Grandma loves autumn, scarves, tea, and dancing like a leaf with the leaves that fall from trees. As autumn progresses, Grandma becomes forgetful and doesn’t seem to enjoy the things she’s always loved. Eventually, Grandma spends her days in bed, and by December, Grandma’s bed is empty. Our narrator mourns, but when autumn returns, she wraps herself in scarves and dances like a leaf in memory of Grandma. 

Based on the author’s own grandmother and her precious memories of their time together, this gentle story offers many talking points around illness, memory loss, and death. The narrator’s decision to celebrate her grandmother’s memory by doing things they loved is beautiful and empowering.

Luna's Red Hat: An Illustrated Storybook to Help Children Cope with Loss and Suicide

By Emmi Smid,

Book cover of Luna's Red Hat: An Illustrated Storybook to Help Children Cope with Loss and Suicide

Why this book?

Luna’s Red Hat does a fantastic job of explaining suicide to its readers in a way that is blameless and sensitive, delicate but not sugar-coated. It’s a hard topic to talk about, especially with children or people who haven’t ever felt suicidal themselves. You can tell in the way that Luna and her father talk to each other and about Luna’s mother that this was and is a very close and loving family, and that nobody is to blame for Luna’s mother taking her own life. This book has been a big inspiration for me. I hope I am able to write about mental health and other difficult topics with as much grace as Emmi does in this book.

Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul

By Stephen Jenkinson,

Book cover of Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul

Why this book?

When I first started studying death and dying, I was shown a lot of educational books on “good deaths” and there was a lot of talk about the “death positive” movement. I trained in a program to become a death doula and Home Funeral Guide so I could serve the dying and dead, and I trained to become a Celebrant so I could help the family through the final disposition. My death education was all about me. It was this book that awakened me to the us, the community, the part where we incorporate and live life alongside death as a community and the okay-ness of not knowing and not controlling absolutely everything—all of the places where we are ruptured as a society. This is a primer for all studies on death and dying.

One Amazing Elephant

By Linda Oatman High,

Book cover of One Amazing Elephant

Why this book?

Linda’s a graduate of the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I’ve taught since 2006. I love it when my reading mind seems to make a conversation out of the books I’ve read. For me, this novel seemed to be speaking to all the other books on this list—through the large, tender presence of the elephant, Queenie Grace, especially in the chapters written in her first-person voice; the growing affection between the child, Lily, and the elephant; the shifting family dynamics, so that blame and guilt give way to communication and empathy; all kinds of chains and ways to loosen them and be free. I even found a surprising little nugget of historical information in the author’s note. 

The Thing About Jellyfish

By Ali Benjamin,

Book cover of The Thing About Jellyfish

Why this book?

Narrated in the present day with journal entries and flashbacks, The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin introduces a young girl named Suzy who secludes herself after losing her best friend to a drowning accident. One of the best parts of this book is Suzy’s ability to deep dive into the wonder she has for science, particularly jellyfish, which becomes the spark for her finding her way back into the lives of the people she’s been trying to avoid. The reader experiences Suzy’s grief with her, and by the end, feels the healing and hope that comes from the support of those around us.

Robot Dreams

By Sara Varon,

Book cover of Robot Dreams

Why this book?

Not all friendships are easy, that’s for sure. This beautifully illustrated, wordless graphic novel is as funny as it is touching. Don’t let the lack of words fool you, this is a skillfully told story about a complicated relationship. I’m a fan of visual storytelling and Sara Varon is a master. I also like when a book takes a turn that you may not expect. It might not have the ending you hoped for, but it makes you think.

A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss

By Jerry L. Sittser,

Book cover of A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss

Why this book?

Jerry’s book was recommended to me by a friend who had lost her husband three years earlier. I found that there were times in my grieving when I gained perspective by holding up the gravity of my loss against that of someone else’s. Jerry’s loss was so monumental and potentially devastating, I found myself drawn to his words again and again to encourage myself that if he could find his way through and still be grounded in faith, maybe I could too. His story shows the possibility of leaning into community and finding the internal strength to trust in healing.

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies

By Mick Cochrane,

Book cover of The Girl Who Threw Butterflies

Why this book?

This is one of my absolute favorite books. It’s beautifully written, telling a compelling story about Molly Williams, who shared a love of baseball and a deep connection with her father through the long hours they spent talking while he taught her to pitch a knuckleball. When he dies in a car accident, Molly’s world falls apart. Her mother descends into depression, and communication between them stops. Molly slowly puts her life back together when she earns a place on a boys’ baseball team and builds friendships with her teammates. The power of this book lies in its central metaphor: the need for communication. Between pitcher and catcher, between base coach and runner, between parent and child, between friends. 

Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler's Guide to Understanding Death

By Bonnie Zucker, Kim Fleming (illustrator),

Book cover of Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler's Guide to Understanding Death

Why this book?

About 9 months after my 3-year-old son sat in the room with us as his uncle quietly passed away, he began having panic attacks about dying. When I took him to a therapist, I realized that I’d done just about everything wrong in how I handled this loss with him. The therapist gave me this book.

The text is simple and focuses on what is important to the child, including what they are seeing in the people around them. Grief is scary to experience, and when you don’t quite understand what’s happening, it’s terrifying to watch your caretakers experience it. This book helps process all of that. I recommend inserting the name of the relative that died into all the places where the text mentions “grandma.”

We Are the Ants

By Shaun David Hutchinson,

Book cover of We Are the Ants

Why this book?

This was a book I actually put off reading for a long time precisely because I knew it would destroy me. It centers around a science fiction allegory for depression that the main character, Henry, must navigate alongside his grief over losing his boyfriend to suicide a year before. Every character is multi-layered and complicated in such a realistically flawed way; there wasn’t anyone who didn’t have something going on or their own demons to face, which I absolutely loved. I read this book after going through one of the worst depressive periods of my life, when I couldn’t think of any downsides to dying. Seeing Henry navigate such difficult, complicated relationships and grief gave me much-needed hope at the time.

The Midnights

By Sarah Nicole Smetana,

Book cover of The Midnights

Why this book?

This beautiful, lyrical book is a must-read for music lovers. It's a gorgeously written narrative set in a southern California wholly unlike the sun-drenched la-la-land portrayed in most movies and TV shows, a Los Angeles and Orange County filled with earthquakes and wildfires, blistering heat, and endless, dangerous rain. Like the weather in the book, the story is harsh and unrelenting: high school senior Susannah Hayes can't escape the pain of her former rock-star father's death or the need to solve the mystery of his life. At the same time she's discovering her own power as a musician, and making all the mistakes you'd expect a young girl ensconced in the world of indie music to make—mistakes with bands and boys, friends and family, truth, and lies.

The Stranding

By Kate Sawyer,

Book cover of The Stranding

Why this book?

I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction and the premise of this one – a woman survives the end of the world by hiding inside a whale – had me desperate to read it. And this is a book that really lives up to that intriguing hook. I loved the character of Ruth, who runs away from a complicated relationship to the other side of the world, only for civilisation to collapse in an unexplained series of catastrophes. I grieved alongside her for all the abrupt endings and terrible losses, but found so much hope in her survival. It’s a really beautiful book that I still think about now. 

Different After You: Rediscovering Yourself and Healing After Grief and Trauma

By Michele Neff Hernandez,

Book cover of Different After You: Rediscovering Yourself and Healing After Grief and Trauma

Why this book?

This is an inspiring book of hope after loss. Michele provides readers with current and relevant ideas on how to integrate the love of your past with the pain of the present to find joy in the future.  She shares her personal journey with great vulnerability, emphasizing the self-doubt that occurs while navigating the endless decisions that arise following the loss of a partner. As you read Michele's candid personal stories you will find her words relatable, sharing tears with her as well as great laughter. It is uplifting, practical, and written in a very caring way. 

Open House

By Elizabeth Berg,

Book cover of Open House

Why this book?

Samantha is the woman I used to be—a devoted and eager-to-please wife who is an expert at turning a blind eye to the cracks in the facade of her marriage. Getting to know Sam in the pages of this novel was a lifeline for me at a very difficult time in my personal life. I was delighted to see how she opens both her home and her heart to unconventional friends and experiences, and in the process, discovers a surprisingly joyous new life for herself.

The Astonishing Color of After

By Emily X.R. Pan,

Book cover of The Astonishing Color of After

Why this book?

Fifteen-year-old Leigh is struggling to deal with the mental illness of her mother, that ultimately led to her suicide. A talented artist, Leigh deals with her sorrow by keeping away from others, including her best friend, Axel. Yes, this starts out as a sad story about loss, but the emotional journey Leigh embarks on is full of the stunning culture of Taiwan as she gains a deeper understanding of herself and her mother’s life. Not only is the diction wonderful in this gorgeously written book, but the symbolism behind the red bird who comes to Leigh repeatedly, whom she believes is her mother, is mystically poignant. When I finished this book, I returned from a world far from Dallas and was left with a true feeling of hope.

Where are you Lydie?

By Emma Poore,

Book cover of Where are you Lydie?

Why this book?

This is a book by one of my students, and it’s the reason I first began to notice that bereavement was an important subject for children – who might experience the death of pets, grandparents, parents, or even siblings – but one in which publishers see little commercial potential. Obviously, publishers are reluctant to print a bedtime story that ends on a downbeat note, but a children’s book can often be the best way to introduce a difficult subject or concept that starts a conversation.

Letters to the Lost

By Brigid Kemmerer,

Book cover of Letters to the Lost

Why this book?

I love this book for the simple reason that it shows how a character can be strong in small ways, such as picking up a camera. It’s a simple action but shows bravery coming from someone who is grieving. On top of that, it’s a retelling of You Got Mail, one of my favorite movies.

I Miss You: Grief and Mental Health Books for Kids

By Pat Thomas, Lesley Harker (illustrator),

Book cover of I Miss You: Grief and Mental Health Books for Kids

Why this book?

The book explains that death is a natural element of life and explains it in a comprehensible and easy way. It will be a good read for those who believe only in that which they see. The book also explains the importance of having someone to talk to after someone dies and dealing with the emotions.

I would suggest this book to young readers and families who do not believe in a Higher Power or do not know whether they believe it or not.

Against the Odds

By Marjolijn Hof,

Book cover of Against the Odds

Why this book?

One of my favourite books of all time! Not only because the author is Dutch (like me!!). The narrator Kiki is a worrier. She worries most of all about her dad who is a doctor who works in dangerous war zones. This book manages to be funny and sad and beautiful at the same time. Read it!

Gifted By Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth

By Jane Duncan Rogers,

Book cover of Gifted By Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth

Why this book?

Rogers has an unexpected message to share. It’s possible to be grateful amidst a loved one’s death. In her case, it was the loss of her husband, and the story is told through blog posts he composed during his final year of life along with her own journal entries. By seeing her way through her own depths of grief, Rogers points the way for readers to seek and find their own gifts embedded in the grief of loss.

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. 

Living When a Loved One Has Died

By Earl A. Grollman,

Book cover of Living When a Loved One Has Died

Why this book?

This book explores what to expect during your mourning, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to work through feelings of loss. A well-written guide to ease suffering while moving through the many facets of grief.

The Heart and the Bottle

By Oliver Jeffers,

Book cover of The Heart and the Bottle

Why this book?

Quite simply the best book on the subject of bereavement I’ve encountered, and it manages that rare trick of appealing to children and adults in equal measure. It’s poignant without cloying sycophancy. It’s humorous without being asinine. It’s respectful of its subject matter without being overly reverential. Interestingly it bypasses the publisher’s reluctance to end on a sad or downbeat note by dealing with the bereavement at the mid-point, allowing equal space in the narrative to move on to the subject of the healing process, without treating it glibly. The icing on the cake is that it’s also beautifully illustrated and written. A classic and one of Jeffers’ best books.

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. 

The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

By Jan Richardson,

Book cover of The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

Why this book?

In all of my reading after my husband died, I was looking for company. Someone who would share and reflect my experience. Not only the loss, but the toll it took on my faith. Jan’s book spoke to me for several reasons. She had lost her husband several years before writing the book. In her experience I saw someone who was a few years down the road from me, negotiating her own spirituality, and writing from a place of healing.  Her poetry was honest, yes, but more importantly pure comfort. Grief had ravaged my soul leaving me feeling raw and vulnerable. Jan’s words were gentle and soothing. When I couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything else, I could pick up Jan’s book and find a poem and a connection.

A to Z Healing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Navigating Grief and Trauma with Intention

By Susan Hannifin-Macnab,

Book cover of A to Z Healing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Navigating Grief and Trauma with Intention

Why this book?

The book is a great collection of healing methods, with practical application ideas. Each of the healing techniques described has been used by the author and others who share how it worked for them. I encourage anyone needing help to find a way through their grief journey to use this book.

Healing Pain: Attachment, Loss, and Grief Therapy

By Nini Leick, Marianne Davidsen-Nielsen,

Book cover of Healing Pain: Attachment, Loss, and Grief Therapy

Why this book?

I cried a lot, when I read this book at first. Later on I have returned to it now and then and find relief in its clear way to describe how important it is not to try to repress your grief. Face it and work through it, and you’ll afterward feel better and stronger than ever before.

Throughout life we have many opportunities to practice mourning. The better you become at going through grief, the greater becomes your courage to go into new loving relationships, and the better you become at loving.

The Courage to Grieve: The Classic Guide to Creative Living, Recovery, and Growth Through Grief

By Judy Tatelbaum,

Book cover of The Courage to Grieve: The Classic Guide to Creative Living, Recovery, and Growth Through Grief

Why this book?

Experiencing a loss may feel overwhelming. That is why you need to read this comforting book; it can ease that feeling. Written by a Gestalt therapist, this book feels like the author is in the room with you helping you deal with your sorrow, guilt, loneliness, resentment, confusion, and encouraging you to take part in life again after your loss.

Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying

By Stephen Levine, Ondrea Levine,

Book cover of Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying

Why this book?

I read this book again and again when I want to remember that death is not something to be terrified of. In fact, when I read this book, death feels more like a natural process that can be welcomed. I feel a kind of calmness towards the whole human race as we all seek to live, knowing that we will eventually die. To truly understand death, you also have to understand life.

Awakening from Grief: Finding the Way Back to Joy

By John E. Welshons,

Book cover of Awakening from Grief: Finding the Way Back to Joy

Why this book?

This meditation teacher shows those who have experienced a loss new ways to embrace the pain so that they can feel joy again. Written for all types of loss, Welshons shows readers how grief can provide a unique opportunity to live a fuller and richer life in spite of our losses.

The Snowman

By Raymond Briggs,

Book cover of The Snowman

Why this book?

The Snowman needs no introduction. And it also deals with bereavement in a more oblique way: the boy’s snowman melts in the final image of the final page, essentially dying. But the boy doesn’t feel the loss of an inanimate object, he feels the pain and loss of losing a friend with whom he’s shared games and adventures. The wordless narrative also allows parents to supply their own dialogue, or let the reader ask questions of their own. 

The Shape of Thunder

By Jasmine Warga,

Book cover of The Shape of Thunder

Why this book?

This is a fresh take on gun violence—this time the story is a dual point of view, told by academically inclined Cora and soccer player Quinn, who were best friends until Quinn’s brother killed Cora's sister, two other kids, and himself. I love the contrast in voices between the two girls, who are both fully realized and distinctive and yet both suffering the same intense grief. What I really love about this story, though, is that the girls finally reconnect over a plan to find a wormhole in the universe and travel back in time to change the day their lives were forever altered. This magical read about grief and the power of friendship gripped my heart and didn’t let go even after I’d turned the very last page. 

The Stitchers (Fright Watch #1)

By Lorien Lawrence,

Book cover of The Stitchers (Fright Watch #1)

Why this book?

As someone who has lost someone very close to them, I immediately connected with the main character in The Stitchers. Creepy mysteries, authentic friendships, and unique family dynamics are always something I enjoy, but the subtle and seamless way grief and loss are tackled were meaningful to me. In reading this story, I realized while we may never fully get over losing someone special, there are ways to celebrate and keep our loved ones alive in our hearts and memories.  

Our Tree Named Steve

By Alan Zweibel, David Catrow (illustrator),

Book cover of Our Tree Named Steve

Why this book?

I did not buy this book because I thought it was a grief book. I got it to do a tree unit for my kids’ preschool. But a year after my father-in-law (also named Steve) died unexpectedly, I couldn’t finish reading this book aloud without crying.

While not a traditional grief book, this is the story of a tree that has become inextricably intertwined with a family’s daily life, until one day a storm blows it over and the children come home to Steve in a new form, as a treehouse. A great way to discuss how we can find our lost loved ones in new ways.

Caroline's Heart

By Austin Chant,

Book cover of Caroline's Heart

Why this book?

A witch mourning her lover is saved by a curious cowboy in this by turns haunting and funny trans romance novella. Caroline’s Heart reminded me of Howl’s Moving Castle, with its magical house that serves as a portal to different geographies. But this book also explores the raw, dark-edged of grief of witch Cecily and her drive to revive her dead partner through her magic; One of Caroline’s Heart’s most powerful moments serves as an eerie reminder that sometimes holding onto grief corrupts our good memories of the people we love.

In Memoriam

By Nathan Burgoine,

Book cover of In Memoriam

Why this book?

James finds out that he has terminal brain cancer and starts to wind up his affairs, including looking for Andy, his lost love. This book takes place in the reality of James’s diagnosis with family and friends sometimes painful reactions to his illness and in the alternate universe of James’ increasingly real hallucinations of a life that could have been with Andy. This book both devastated and buoyed me with its intense and very real portrayal of someone grieving his own life, but who nonetheless seizes the chance to make give himself a happy resolution.  


By Shirley Hughes,

Book cover of Dogger

Why this book?

Neither Dogger nor Shirley Hughes will need much introduction to lovers of children’s picture books… it’s a well-established classic by one of the world’s best-known author/illustrators. Dogger isn’t specifically about bereavement, it’s about the broader subject of ‘loss’ – in this case, of a toy – which can be a great place to start a conversation with a child and explore the wider concept of loss in a less direct or traumatic way.

Grandad's Island

By Benji Davies,

Book cover of Grandad's Island

Why this book?

I’m in two minds about this recommendation: on the one hand, it’s one of the few commercially successful books that deals with the loss of a grandparent head-on, while managing to do it in a vibrant, rich book that a child reader is likely to enjoy and request again and again. Benji Davies’ beautiful, detailed illustrations are a visual delight and hit exactly the right note for the subject matter. My reservations come in the fact that the ending seems fudged and confusing: did Grandad actually die? Did he retire to an island? Or did he go to whatever version of ‘Heaven’ your particular (secular or non-secular) beliefs allow? It certainly encourages questions.  

Everett Anderson's Goodbye

By Lucille Clifton, Ann Grifalconi (illustrator),

Book cover of Everett Anderson's Goodbye

Why this book?

The book entails a powerful message by describing all the stages of grief that we go through after losing someone. A book reminds us that love does not end after death, but it lives in us as we carry on despite our sadness and loss. The story will allow the reader to experience sets of emotions as an integral part of healing.


By Sonali Deraniyagala,

Book cover of Wave

Why this book?

Wave is an extraordinary and brutally honest memoir about the 2004 tsunami that claimed the lives of an estimated 230,000 people, including the author’s parents, husband, and two sons. All of this happens in the book’s first devastating chapter. Deraniyagala uses the rest of the memoir to move back and forward in time. In the aftermath of the tsunami, she doesn’t want to live, but through remembering the past—the happy life she lived with her family—she is able to face a grief almost beyond words. No matter the loss—in my case, my mother to COVID in 2021—Wave reminds us that we all suffer and that we are capable of great resilience.

Paula: A Memoir

By Isabel Allende,

Book cover of Paula: A Memoir

Why this book?

In this heart-wrenching memoir, international best-selling author Isabel Allende interweaves her own extraordinary life journey and heritage, with her daughter Paula’s slow and torturous death. 

Driven out of Chile into exile herself, plus endangering her own life helping other refugees escape, Allende writes with deep psychological incite into the fate of the displaced. To being forced to leave one's home and country, to lose your tribe and nation, to survive the damage to your soul, and forever fearing not being safe.

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. 

The Sun Still Rises: Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss

By Shawn Doyle,

Book cover of The Sun Still Rises: Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss

Why this book?

This book is the first one I read after losing my husband. I was 31-years old, with a toddler and a newborn, and I had no idea how I was going to survive the rest of my life, better yet make it a life worth living. In The Sun Still Rises: Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss, author Shawn Doyle shares his story of loss, but more than that he shares hope with his reader. Hope that there is still light in the darkness of grief. At that point in my loss, hope was what I needed most. However, he didn't stop there, he also provided practical tips and suggestions about dealing with both the logistical matters that come with loss, as well as providing emotional support. This book helped me live my best life, in spite of my loss.

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief

By Martha W. Hickman,

Book cover of Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief

Why this book?

When I became a widow, I wanted to find books that would help me work through my grief, but it was so hard for me to find the energy to pick up even a small book. The physical and emotional effort required to read sometimes seemed like too much. I was in a bookstore when a stranger saw me looking at the depressingly small shelf dedicated to grief and grieving, and recommended Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief. When she handed me this book and I saw that it had short daily meditations, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. While a full-sized book was too much, this book filled with quotes and short daily meditations was exactly what I was looking for. The author's insight, provided daily in a few small paragraphs, gave me the support I needed without overwhelming me.

Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief: A Revolutionary Approach to Understanding and Healing the Impact of Loss

By Claire Bidwell Smith,

Book cover of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief: A Revolutionary Approach to Understanding and Healing the Impact of Loss

Why this book?

Claire Bidwell Smith’s Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief was the first book that revealed to me that anxiety lives in the body autonomous from the mind, and can cause panic attacks hours or even a day after the feelings flood the system, causing a lack of connection between cause and effect. It expanded my sense of what anxiety is, and how the physical response appears in unexpected places…like while grieving.

Billy, Me & You: A Memoir of Grief and Recovery

By Nicola Streeten,

Book cover of Billy, Me & You: A Memoir of Grief and Recovery

Why this book?

When I was halfway through Billy, Me, and You, I got off the tube I was riding, cancelled my plans, and took the book to a pub to give it my full attention. That was the power it had. So submerged in its world I was unable to put it down. It's so beautifully written and big and painful, it held my hand in my own grief and somehow radiated such warmth and hope like a magic thing.

You'll Find Me

By Amanda Rawson Hill, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of You'll Find Me

Why this book?

It is a beautiful book that explains that when loved ones cannot be with us physically, they are still present in our lives in many different ways. The story is written in a tender and heartfelt way that made me feel emotion with each turn of the page. I had to cry as I read the story, but they were not tears of sorrow, they were tears of joy and comfort knowing that death is nothing but an illusion.

Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: Field Notes from The Death Dialogues Project

By Becky Aud-Jennison, Felicia Olin (illustrator),

Book cover of Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: Field Notes from The Death Dialogues Project

Why this book?

I first learned of the Death Dialogue Projects through Instagram. The author has a standing open call for Tiny Death Stories of 100 words or less, and a few of mine were showcased along with many lovely true tales of personal loss and grief. What a welcome resource as well as her emotionally raw nature of her podcast translates well into her pages. The book is an obvious project of passion embracing death literacy. I love how healing and understanding are weaved through the shared stories.