Recommended Books for Grief
Below are several books for grief to help you with managing and accepting grief. Each one is described and a summary is provided.
Graceful Passages by Gary Malkin
Graceful Passages, a small book with music and spoken-word CDs, was created to help people come to terms with death. Used in many hospice situations, patients and family members have found it opens a way for them to talk to each other about life and death, forgiveness and accepteance, and the process of letting go. The words of wisdom from spirtual thinkers such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Ram Dass, Arun Ghandi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi and others appear in the book and are spoken aloud on CDs as an offering of thoughts, prayers, chants or stories of comfort and reflection.
Healing Your Grieving Heart, 100 Practical Ideas by Alan D. Wolfelt PH.D.
When someone loved dies, we must express our grief if we are to heal. In other words, we must mourn. But knowing how to mourn doesn’t always come naturally. This book offers 100 practical ideas to help you practice self-compassion. Some of the ideas tech you the principles of grief and mourning. The remainder offer practical, action-oriented tips for embracing your grief. Each also suggests a carpe diem, which will help you seize the day by helping you move toward healing today.
Alison’s Gift by Pat Hogan
Alison’s Gift: Song of a Thousand Hearts Opening is the true story of in-home after-death care that changed the lives of a family and a community. In her book, Something More, Sarah Ban Breathnach relates, “I have known many sacred encounters in my life, but the two holiest encounters I have ever been blessed to know and shall ever know were bringing my child into this world and helping another woman’s child leave.” That other child was Alison and this is the story of her life and death and the unique legacy she left behind.
This is a story of courage and compassion, bitterness and beauty, and love and loss. Alison’s Gift portrays a mother, family, and community coming to grips with the sudden death of a beloved child. More importantly, it demonstrates the value of community and courage in facing death, and handling the details of the loss of a loved one.
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A Caregiver’s Challenge by Maryann Schacht
Maryann Schacht was writing a manual on how to care for a terminally ill loved one when her husband Bob was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, she was no longer just the sympathetic social worker dispensing useful advice for her clients; she was a woman tending to the man who had beenher rock of support for 25 years. After his death, she continued working on the book, pouring into it both her personal ordeal and the practical guidance she’d always offered others. A Caregiver’s Challenge: Living, Loving, Letting Go is now available in paper back.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
It’s an oldie, but it is one of my favorites. It says more about grief than so many other books. The movie “Shadowlands” was inspired by it. (Reviewed by Todd Little, Bereavement Service Professional)
A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance: Help for the Losses in Life by Margaret Metzgar
I think this book is probabaly the best grief book I’ve ever read. It just has almost everything in it that I would try to tell people. First of all, it’s got beautiful pictures; it’s like a coffee table book that really touches on what grief is and how to understand what you’re experiencing. I’ve told people when I’ve given it to them, “It’s my whole support group in one book.” It touches on every loss you can name-pet death, traumatic death, death of a child, loss of heath. It’s a book about life, really, and it’s truly comforting. (Reviewed by Todd Little, Bereavement Service Professional)
Gili’s Book: A Journey Into Bereavement for Parents and Counselors by Henya Kagan Klein
It’s interesting on a number of levels, because she writes not only as someone who helps people deal with their grief, but also from the perspective of a grieving parent. It’s the story of her daughter and what she went through in losing her, the feelings she struggled with afterward. (Reviewed by Todd Little, Bereavement Service Professional)
The Gift of Significance: Walking People Through a Loss by Doug Manning
This is one of my all-time favorites; it’s the real story of grief. It talks about grief, the way people feel, and gives real down-to-earth ideas about how to understand the experience you are going through.(Reviewed by Todd Little, Bereavement Service Professional)
Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin Seligman
This isn’t a grief book at all, but it’s one I have really taken to heart and found a lot of value in. I think for grieving people this is a great book, because it talks about how to find true happiness, about how you don’t necessarily have to have happy circumstances to be able to have a good life or a meaningful life, one richer and better than you would have by looking for “happiness.” (Seligman also wrote “Learned Optimism.”) (Reviewed by Todd Little, Bereavement Service Professional)
Thoughts for the Lonely Nights: A Conversation About Grief by Doug Manning
It’s a unique book because it comes with a CD and it’s more of a journal. You get to hear Doug’s very calming, soothing, nice Southern drawl on the CD, and you have room to write down your own thoughts and feelings in the journal. He also reads portions of the book, so when you don’t feel like reading, you can simply lie in bed in the dark and listen. (Reviewed by Todd Little, Bereavement Service Professional)
Surviving the Death of a Sibling : Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies by TJ Wray
I live far away from my family and had no one to share my grief with when my sister died. After reading this book I no longer felt so alone with my pain. It felt like the author took my hand and helped me understand all that I was feeling. Each page was a hug. The writing style is warm and conversational and the content is amazingly pertinent to every nuance of feeling.
(Reviewed by Kathy Duby Mill Valley, CA)
Awakening from Grief: Finding the Way Back to Joy by John Welshons
A compassionate guide to making your way through grief. This book is the perfect companion when death has turned your life upside-down, or when someone near you has lost a loved one. (Reviewed by Lisa Baertlein, San Francisco, CA)
The Next Place by Warren Hanson
This nondenominational book reads more like a poem than a book. It is illustrated and is nice for both adults and children. When my father passed away recently my son read this book out loud to my mother while she was taking a break at the service and it really seemed to help. I would strongly recommend this book. (Reviewed by Karen Holmes, Jessup, PA)
Exit Strategy by Michelle Cromer
This Southern author wants people to think outside the box- or outside the casket as she provides many examples beyond the traditonal funeral. From having one’s remains shot into outer space or turned into a piece of jewelry to being spread across the sky in a fireworks display or scattered on a mountainside. All these innovative funerals, Cromer said, “represent an effort to make the passage from life to death more personal and connected with the rest of our lives. And they remind us that physical death and physical decay are natural processes, without which there could be no new life.”
A Season of Grief by Bill Valentine
This book chronicles Valentine’s emotional descent after the violent death of his partner of 21 years from an airline crash. Ric Newton, a California funeral director said, “This poignant journal demonstrates the complexity of acute loss and grief. His testimony reflects the value of meaningful ritual and the need to express grief in order to heal. A Season of Grief shows how difficult it is to grieve openly in a society where many people offer platitudes and trite expressions of sympathy in their desire to assuage the grieving.”
Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death by Lisa Cullen “Cullen is a gifted storyteller, and she’s at her best recreating the lives of loved ones lost, often via a detailed description of their memorial…She’s written a highly readable account of an industry that’s changing rapidly and profoundly, and that will at some point touch upon us all. Remember Me is a new look at what may be one of the least-examined parts of our lives.” —Bess Lovejoy, KGBBarLit.
Planning a Celebration of Life: A Simple Guide for Turning a Memorial Service into a Celebration of Life by Mary Hickey 30 pgs.
At last, a complete book to help guide you through creating a memorable and personalized life celebration event. From suggestions on where to hold the event, to a selection of recommended current music and poems this book is full of ideas that will make planning a life celebration easier.
A Passage Through Grief by Barbara Baumgardner
It is a journaling guide that has helped many people come to grips with their sorrow through writing. It was recommended by Vikki Sheerer
Seven Choices- Finding daylight after loss shatters your world by Elizabeth Harper Neeld
A seven-stage, step-by-step guide to mourning and recovery, accompanied by a description of phases necessary to complete the “grieving process.” Apparently this book was used by volunteers working with victims’ families after 9/11.
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
On Grief and Grieving applies the 5 stages of loss to the process of grieving and weaves together theory, inspiration, and practical advice, all based on Kübler-Ross’s and Kessler’s professional and personal experiences, and is filled with brief, topic-driven stories.
Read more about grief in this article. See ideas on how to keep their memory alive.
Have any books been helpful to you? If so, please share your recommendations with us at [email protected]