The grieving process is complicated because grief works in different ways. No two people experience it the same way, there’s no definitive timeline for it, and it’s impossible to fake your way through. What we do know for sure about grief, though, is that we will get through it, even if it feels impossible right now.
How you navigate the grieving process — and how long grief lasts — depends on many factors. Having a solid support system is instrumental in your healing. Online grief counseling and self-help tools can help, too. For some people, reading books about grief can be beneficial. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 15 therapist-recommended books on grief.
If you or someone you love is grieving a loss, the following list of best books about grief can help.
1. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown
Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown is a thoughtful and compassionate exploration of grief’s complexities. Through her own experiences and those shared by others, Brown offers insight into how to cope with loss in meaningful ways in one of the best grief books available.
“We get to explore what it means to experience 87 of the emotions and experiences that dramatically influence us. And! What we can do about them when we get flooded out with them.”
2. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler
Kübler-Ross first coined the five stages of grief for us — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — and On Grief and Grieving shares how we can walk through those stages with a comprehensive understanding of the grieving process. This grief book covers sections about sadness, dreams, isolation, and recovery.
“This book gives us a structured approach to grief and loss that allows for certain personality traits to grieve with a plan. It feels good to have a slice of control over our own grief journey.”
3. Grief One Day at a Time: 365 Meditations to Help You Heal After Loss – by Dr. Alan Wolfelt
Grief One Day at a Time: 365 Meditations to Help You Heal After Loss is an invaluable resource for anyone who’s experienced the loss of a loved one. Written by grief counselor and psychotherapist Dr. Alan Wolfelt, this book offers daily meditations that provide comfort and guidance through the grieving process, with support every day for 365 days after a loss.
“Being in the present moment is a skill that we can learn to only process the things that are coming up for us now, rather than in the past or the future. It can reduce the overwhelm to live like this.”
4. Bearing the Unbearable by Joanne Cacciatore
The death of someone close is often so overwhelming that you feel alone in your pain. Cacciatore’s grief book helps readers understand their emotions and provides strategies for dealing with them healthily. Each short chapter can stand alone, walking with you as you navigate the grieving process.
5. How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies by Terese A. Rando
The goal is healing and finding peace in life again despite loss — something that may seem impossible right now but can become a reality over time with dedication and effort.
How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies offers comfort and support for people who are grieving. The book includes lessons on understanding your grief so you can let go, remembering how to take care of yourself along the way, getting through milestones like birthdays and holidays, and finding acceptance.
6. I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye by Brook Noel
Coming to terms with loss is the most difficult part of grief. Though it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, in one of her books about grief, I Wasn’t Ready To Say Goodbye, author Brook Noel encourages readers to look beyond their sorrow. She offers guidance on how to cope with the emotional and physical aspects of death and grief.
7. The Other Side of Sadness by George A. Bonanno, PhD
The Other Side of Sadness takes an unexpected look at and approach to grief. It goes beyond the traditional 5 stages of grief we’ve come to accept and anticipate, instead viewing the process as far from unpredictable. Bonanno acknowledges that we all have an incredible capacity for resilience as we face our grief.
8. Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers: How to Cope With Losing Someone You Love by Earl A. Grollman
Written for teens who’ve experienced a significant loss, Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers shares what to do when coping with loss at such a young age. Approachable and relatable, this is one of those books on grief where Grollman brings light to a much-ignored segment of grief. This also is the best book for teens that are dealing with the loss of a parent.
9. It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine
Written by someone who’s experienced her own devastating loss, Devine explores grief in her book through the lens that you shouldn’t necessarily be trying to get “back to normal.” Rather, true healing comes when you focus on forging a new path that encompasses your grief as a part of your life moving forward.
10. Surviving the Holidays Without You: Navigating Grief During Special Seasons by Gary Roe
The pain of loss is amplified with each (and sometimes every) major holiday or significant date you must get through after you lose a loved one. Surviving the Holidays Without You gives a roadmap to turn painful holidays into days that can help you heal.
11. Heartbroken: Healing from the Loss of a Spouse by Gary Roe
Gary Roe makes our list twice with his book about how losing a spouse can cause a unique form of grief that’s both painful and, at times, explosive. In Heartbroken: Healing from the Loss of a Spouse, Roe helps you heal and get through the emotions common to this specific type of loss.
12. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
If the traditional self-help format doesn’t resonate as you cope with loss, Reasons to Stay Alive addresses grief through a memoir. Walk with Haig as he recounts his loss and survival, overcoming the crisis and personal health struggles that almost took everything.
13. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig
Yet another Matt Haig book makes our list. The Comfort Book is a thoughtful, reflective look at some of the darkest times Haig survived. His story is interwoven with references to historical, scientific, and worldly occurrences from our past, all in a true testament to the power of resilience.
14. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is an insightful look into what it means to grieve after losing someone close to you. While their daughter was in the hospital on life support, Didion’s husband suddenly and unexpectedly suffered a massive, fatal heart attack. Didion shares her thoughts on denial, guilt, anger, and acceptance as she helps readers understand their feelings better and ultimately move forward.
15. Surviving the Death of A Sibling: Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies by T. J. Wray
Wray’s thoughtful look at her own loss acknowledges the difficulty of losing an adult sibling. While all losses are painful to overcome, there are unique challenges that come with losing siblings who are adults, have spouses, and possibly are already parents themselves. Surviving the Death of A Sibling explores how to navigate this very specific type of loss, with advice for understanding and managing each stage.
Finding Support for Grief With Talkspace
If you’re searching for support and tools that will help you cope with grief, consider reading one of the recommended books in this list. If you need more professional support, turn to Talkspace. You don’t have to deal with your grief alone. Online grief counseling at Talkspace can help you learn how to deal with grief by teaching you a variety of grief therapy techniques. Get connected today to start healing in your grief journey.
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