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10 Must-Read Books about Grief and Loss

by | Dec 15, 2017 | For Families

A blue notebook

Grief is something we’ll all feel at some point. We’ll grieve over a grandparent, a mother or father, a friend, sibling, a child — a loved one. We’ll all follow our own paths through our grief process, and navigating the grief journey won’t be easy. But these books can help. Below you’ll find messages of hope, healing, and guidance to get you through your own grief journey.

Grieving: A Beginner’s Guide by Jershua Hull McCormack

The author knows loss all too well. After becoming a widow early in life, McCormack talks about the trial of trying to navigate grief at a young age while raising two young children. Her approach dismisses the clichés of “overcoming grief.” Instead, she writes honestly and openly about what loss feels like and what it means to express one’s grief. The book acts as a guide for anyone who is grieving or wants to support someone they love who is grieving.

Excerpt: “Grief is not one emotion and no one emotion is appropriate for the grieving. People react to loss in different ways at different times and in different situations.”

The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing by Kevin Young

Kevin Young’s anthology is a collection of both modern and classic grief poems. The poems range in theme, spanning collections about remembrance, rituals, and redemption.

Excerpt: “Between grief and nothing, I will take grief. — William Faulkner”

Death’s Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve by Sandra Gilbert

After the unexpected loss of her husband, Sandra Gilbert examines our relationship with death and our grieving practices. Throughout the book, she touches on themes of the evolution of grief, grief and national tragedies such as 9/11, and cultural grieving customs.

Excerpt: “At such a time, in such a place, it seems right to try to understand what it meant for death, suddenly, to seem ‘plausible’ as if it had out of nowhere, unnervingly, opened itself to me when my husband was drawn through its doorway.”

Poems of Mourning by Peter Washington

Peter Washington’s anthology is another collection of poems that reflect on losing a loved one. The collection covers poets from throughout history and centers around the theme that there is a universal need for mourning.

Excerpt: “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet. — Emily Dickinson”

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

A Grief Observed is a classic reflection of Lewis’s experience coping with the loss of his wife. In a candid way, Lewis questions and struggles with the loss and his journey to find meaning in life.

Excerpt: “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning.”

I’m Grieving as Fast as I Can by Linda Feinberg

The book, written by a grief therapist, is a guide for widows and widowers. Feinberg uses her counseling experience to offer advice on topics such as returning to work and taking care of young children.

Excerpt: “I can’t tell you when, but I can help with the how. It has been said that the worst symptom of grief is that you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. You will see some. I promise.”

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Joan Didion’s book is another classic memoir that captures the experience of losing one you love. The book covers the first year after her husband’s death, her memories of their marriage, and her experience with the process of grief.

Excerpt: “We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. as we were. as we are no longer. as we will one day not be at all.”

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman

After losing her daughter at a young age, Hickman wrote a page-a-day style journal that includes inspiring guidance, prompts, quotes, and affirmations to help guide anyone who is grieving.

Excerpt: “I will be open to new ways of resolving my grief.”

Seasons of Solace: A Story of Healing through Photos and Poems by Janelle Shantz Hertzler

Hertzler lost her husband unexpectedly after he was hit by a drunk driver. In the aftermath, she began searching for meaning. In her book, she creates a spiritual journey for the reader through the use of poetry and photography.

Excerpt: “Within these images, I find meaning that connects with my own personal journey of grief and healing. I am continually amazed at how beauty and death so frequently dwell side by side.”

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye by Brook Noel and Pamela Blair

This best-selling book focuses on the topic of sudden and unexpected loss. In more than 20 thought-filled chapters, the book explores topics such as the loss of a child, funerals and rituals, depression, and how to cope in those first weeks after a sudden loss.

Excerpt: “You cannot explain the questions, the disorientation, the helplessness that arises when facing the world without your loved one.”


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