Books on grief and bereavement

Books are a great way to get general guidance, personal stories and inspiration relating to the grieving process. Here we list some of our recommended reads, as well as yours. If you have another suggestion, please use the form on this page to tell us about it!

Our recommended books

 DescriptionTitleAuthor(s)
After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding JoySheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
A follow-up to On Death and Dying draws on the original work's theories about the five stages of dying to provide empathic counsel to grieving readers, in a spiritual guide that covers such topics as isolation, children, and healingOn Grief and GrievingElisabeth Kübler Ross and David Kessler
At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise - a promise of piecing together a life that lay shattered at her feet...Wild. A Journey From Lost to FoundCheryl Strayed
A guide for young widows and widowers through the normal grieving proccess that highlights the speical circumstances of an untimely death. Young widows and widowers share thoughts and dilemmas about losing a loved one, what to tell young children experiencing a parent's death, returning to work and dealing with in-laws.I'm Grieving As Fast As I CanLinda Feinberg
The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up and how owning our stories of disappointment, failure, and heartbreak gives us the power to write a daring new ending. Struggle can be our greatest call to courage and Rising Strong, our clearest path to deeper meaning, wisdom and hope.Rising StrongBrené Brown
The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. There is a constant barrage of social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. Everywhere we turn, there are messages that tell us who, what and how we're supposed to be. So, we learn to hide our struggles and protect ourselves from shame, judgment, criticism and blame by seeking safety in pretending and perfectionI Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't)Brené Brown
Widowhood is a frightening prospect for any woman, but becoming a widow in one's forties, thirties, or twenties can be terrifying. Widows Wear Stilettos deals sensitively with the many problems and questions facing the young widow: depression and grief, helping children cope, facing in-laws, and returning to work. The authors also address practical concerns including financial considerations and personal issues such as health, self-awareness, diet, and exercise. This reassuring book shows how a life that feels at an end can begin anew.Widows Wear Stilettos: A Practical and Emotional Guide for the Young WidowCarole Brody Fleet and Syd Harriet
Following the death of a loved one, it is vital that children are given the opportunity to grieve. This wonderfully written, interactive book provides children the emotional tools they need to go through that process. Using direct but child friendly language, it addresses the mixed emotions felt by a child during times of bereavement and offers support and understanding.Love Will Never Die: Helping children through bereavementClare Shaw

Your recommendations

 DescriptionTitleAuthor(s)
A wife at breakfast, a widow by lunch...In 2011, after an unusually difficult year in a relationship which spanned more than two decades, author Helen Bailey, andher husband JS, arrived in Barbados for a much-needed break.The moment the plane touched down on this idyllic Caribbean island, Helen and JS relaxed, and tensions faded away. Everything was perfect. But only a few days in to the holiday, Helen found herself kneeling on the Barbadian beach, watching helplessly as paramedics tried to resuscitate JS - who'd been out for a swim in unexpectedly strong currentsWhen Bad Things Happen in Good BikinisHelen Bailey
Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later – the night before New Year’s Eve –the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary.The Year of Magical ThinkingJoan Didion
Blue Nights opens on July 26, 2010, as Didion thinks back to Quintana’s wedding in New York seven years before. Today would be her wedding anniversary. This fact triggers vivid snapshots of Quintana’s childhood ― in Malibu, in Brentwood, at school in Holmby Hills. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced.Blue NightsJoan Didion
Neuroscience meets spirituality. Most people will talk about following their heart, trusting their gut or using their head. Not many people talk about combining all three and providing scientific evidence for doing so. It's a textbook with a how to roadmap, explaining how your head, heart and gut has its own intelligence - how each of these intelligences can block or constrain the other and tools to integrate them, for more compassion, creativity and courage.

People can die of a broken heart - takotsubo syndrome. Grief and managing that whether in the workplace or home, by working from a place of compassion, using the heart's functions (desire, connecting & values) and gut functions (getting MOVING again after bereavement, coaching around IDENTITY & exploring SELF-PRESERVATION) clients can be supported and grow new neural pathways, and develop new ways of being, in their own time. The book's techniques can be used to reduce stress and gain control over the nervous system. Ultimately, it's about cultivating more compassion and generating wisdom. I believe it's a great tool to assist people in moving beyond bereavement.
mBrainingGrant Soosalu & Marvin Oka
Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1985, these poems were written after the death of Douglas Dunn's first wife in March 1981.ElegiesDouglas Dunn
The book reproduces A Part Song, a profoundly moving document of grieving and loss, and one of the most widely admired long poems of recent years. Elsewhere these poems become a space for contemplation of the natural world and of physical law, and for the deep consideration of what it is to invoke those who are absent. But finally, they extend our sense of what the act of human speech can mean - and especially what is drawn forth from us when we address our dead. Lyric, intimate, acidly witty, unflinchingly brave, Say Something Back is a deeply moving book by one of our finest poets, and one destined to introduce Riley’s name to a wide new readership.Say Something BackDenise Riley

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