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It's not challenging to find books about grief. After all, there are literally hundreds of book to choose from; a search on Amazon using that phrase results in a list of almost 1,600 titles. The challenge comes in picking the most appropriate book for your needs. That's why we've put together this list of our top ten recommended books: we want to simplify your search for recommendations of merit, and reduce your frustration. Each of the following books has something to offer anyone dealing with grief. The book descriptions provided can be found online, either at Amazon or Barnes and Noble; and source citations are provided for each volume.
We're always on the look-out for new titles to recommend to others. So, if you find a very special book about grief and bereavement which is not listed here, we'd love to hear from you. Call us at (519) 941-1392, or send us an email using the form on our Contact Us page.
The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us about Life After Loss
George A. Bonanno
We tend to understand grief as a predictable five-stage process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But in The Other Side of Sadness, George Bonanno shows that our conventional model discounts our capacity for resilience. In fact, he reveals that we are already hardwired to deal with our losses efficiently—not by graduating through static phases. Combining personal anecdotes and original research, The Other Side of Sadness is a must-read for those going through the death of a loved one, mental health professionals, and readers interested in neuroscience and positive psychology." (Amazon)
The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition
John James and Russell Friedman
"Incomplete recovery from grief can have a lifelong negative effect on the capacity for happiness. Drawing from their own histories as well as from others', the authors illustrate how it is possible to recover from grief and regain energy and spontaneity. Based on a proven program, The Grief Recovery Handbook offers grievers the specific actions needed to move beyond loss. New material in this edition includes guidance for dealing with: loss of faith, loss of career and financial issues, loss of health, and growing up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional home." (Barnes and Noble)
A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss
Jerry L. Sittser
"Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life—one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings." (Amazon)
Healing after Loss: Daily Meditations
Martha Whitmore Hickman
"For those recovering from the death of a loved one, here is a collection of daily affirmations and meditations to ease the grieving process and pave the way for healing to begin. (Ms. Hickman) is the author of more than twenty books for adults and children. Among her adult titles are The Growing Season, Fullness of Time, and I Will Not Leave You Desolate." (Barnes and Noble)
A New Normal: Learning to Live with Grief and Loss
Darlene F. Cross MS, MFT
"Everyone experiences loss. The pain of loss—whether it is the loss of a friend or loved one, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a job, or the loss of youth or health—can bring disabling feelings of helplessness, despair, numbness, and disorientation to almost anyone. A New Normal invites you behind the closed doors of private counseling, where grief and loss have long been the focus of healing. Whether you or a loved one are dealing with loss through death, loss of a relationship, loss of a job, or the loss of youth or health, this book offers understanding and hope. Here is a clear, proven road map to life after loss, the road to each reader's own New Normal." (Amazon)
I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One
Brook Noel and Pamela Blair, PhD
"Each year about eight million Americans suffer the death of someone close to them. Now for those who face the challenges of sudden death, there is a hand to hold. Written by two women who have experienced sudden loss, this updated edition of the best-selling bereavement classic will touch, comfort, uplift and console. Authors Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D., offer a comforting hand to hold for those who are grieving the sudden death of a loved one." (Barnes and Noble)
Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing after Loss
"If you are going to buy only one book on grief, this is the one to get! It will validate your grief experience, and you can share it with your children. You can leave it on the coffee table so others will pick it up, read it, and then better appreciate your grieving time. Grand's Cooking Tips section at the back of the book is rich with wisdom and concrete recommendations." (Amazon)
Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse
Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge, and Robert C. De Vries
"The authors, a clinical psychologist and a pastor and professor, offer comfort and guidance to those mourning their spouse's death. Both suffered the loss of a spouse at a relatively young age, and their empathy, combined with psychological insights, biblical observations, and male and female perspectives, help readers experience grief in the healthiest, most complete way." (Barnes and Noble)
About Grief: Insights, Setbacks, Grace Notes, Taboos
Ron Marasco and Brian Shuff
"About Grief is a refreshingly down-to-earth book about an issue that blindsides many people. Written in a warm and conversational way that is, at times, deeply moving, at times, surprisingly amusing, and always practical, it covers a wide range of issues facing people in grief. As one reader recently said, "Reading this book is like having a smart, entertaining friend around—at a time when you really need one." (Amazon)
Creative Grieving: A Hip Chick's Path from Loss to Hope
"Within a 20-month period, Elizabeth Berrien endured the loss of her stillborn son and the subsequent death of her husband on active duty in Afghanistan. She found herself a 27-year-old widow whose life had been shattered. In this book, she shares the experiences, the wisdom, and even the joy she gathered on her journey from grief to hope. Creative Grieving offers support and encouragement while acknowledging that there is no 'right' way to grieve. Elizabeth tells you about the emotions she experienced while grieving in an 'instant gratification' society, the importance of self-nurturing, the balancing of grief and motherhood, the redefining of community and relationships, and the discovery of new passion and meaning." (Barnes and Noble)
While those are our top ten books on grief, there are plenty of other online resources to turn to for recommended books. We've listed a few sources for recommended reading in the resources section below, including The New Yorker online article from 2010, "A Reading List for the Grieving". Here, author Meghan O'Rourke, acknowledged the most helpful literary passage for her came from T. H. White’s wonderful The Once and Future King, which is an Arthurian fantasy novel. Giving advice to the young king, the magician Merlyn says, “The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder in your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewer of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it.”
If you're setting out to learn what you can about grief and grieving, we can suggest additional online sources for recommended books on grief, including the Goodreads list, "Best Books about Grief and Grieving"; and of course, Meghan O'Rourke's very personal perspective, "A Reading List for Grievers", published online by The New Yorker in 2010, and The Guardian article, "Helen Humphreys' Top 10 Books on Grieving". (All are listed in the Online Sources and Resources section below.)
In the effort to better support the families we serve, we've spent years educating ourselves on grief and grieving. If you need additional book recommendations, or simply want to discuss the ways you can deal with grief, call us at (519) 941-1392. Your grief journey: we're here to support you every step of the way.
Online Sources and Resources:
O'Rourke, Meghan, "A Reading List for the Grieving", The New Yorker, 2010.
Humphreys, Helen, "Helen Humphreys' Top 10 Books on Grieving", The Guardian, April, 2013.
Goodreads, "Best Books about Grief and Grieving", 2014.